Disgusted of Llandrindod Wells

The sweet smell of desperation
19/08/2009, 9:53 am
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Yowser. There’s a front page splash on the Western Mail today about Welsh Tory ‘links’ to a ‘think tank’ that had called for the NHS to be abolished.

“A RIGHT-WING Tory website and think tank was under fire last night after calling for the dismantling of the “Stalinist” NHS and its replacement by compulsory medical insurance for all,” thundered the paper.

Disgusted may be missing something but doesn’t recall seeing any left-wing Tory websites on the interweb.

Carwyn Jones, who found the site during one of his legendary internet sessions, said:

“I was appalled when I found this article on this group’s website. It’s a direct attack on the NHS and shows the real thinking in the minds of so many Tory MPs.”

This ‘real thinking’, by the way, was encapsulated by Tory MP Peter Bone, who considered ways to “provide everybody in this country with access to the same level of high quality health care, when they need it, at no huge additional cost.” The bastard!

In fact the whole premise of the story seems to fall apart once you get past the headline. Once again, the desperate Western Mail is determined to milk this non-story for all it’s worth – and Labour is desperately trying to smear the Tories as the ‘party of cuts’, when cuts are what is needed to put obese public finances back in shape.


The smell of death
06/08/2009, 9:33 am
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There’s an awfully grim set of news stories on WalesOnline today:

Wales let down (again) by BBC
21/07/2009, 10:05 am
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Wonks at Ofcom have found that in 2004-2008 the hours of BBC Wales’s regional news broadcast in Wales fell from 454 to 365. ‘The BBC is letting Wales down’, says David Williamson.

The fact that this happened in rather prosperous times is worrying. There will be a licence fee renegotiation in the next few years and it is likely to a tight one, given the UK Government’s noises about top-slicing lately. The axe should not be allowed to fall on Welsh programming. Welsh media are in a dire state as it is.

This isn’t the first time that the BBC’s withered coverage of Wales has been exposed. The King report found a year or two ago that coverage of stories with relevance to Wales on network news was paltry. The BBC’s tendency to retreat to a safe place while under attack was displayed. Then Director General Mark Thompson talked up the BBC’s record of delivering impartial news (hardly any of it about Wales on the network) and transparency (“We only know how bad it is because the BBC was generous enough to commission the report”).

Expect similar fig leaves this time.

Rumours of our demise…

Freedom Central, the Welsh Lib Dem version of Pravda, was reporting earlier that Welsh Labour had closed. Disgusted’s brief call earlier confirmed that this was the case. Before Plaid and the Welsh Lib Dem’s start celebrating, this was only a temporary measure. Apparently it was just a fire alarm.

In other less important news, the UK Government’s techno-wonk, Lord Carter, published the Digital Britain White Paper yesterday. The paper has been in the offing for ages, following the interim report earlier this year. It was also informed by Ofcom’s second public service broadcasting review. The story for Wales was also one of demise. ITV was broke and its ITV Wales content was about to disappear down the plughole forever.

Meanwhile twitters-in-chief and other techno-prophets promised the internet would provide the solution: cheap vox pop videos by untrained Western Mail hacks, anyone? Anyway, Carter has suggested using part of the licence fee to fund the rollout of porn-friendly broadband. Naturally the BBC wasn’t too pleased about this idea. But the element of the licence fee that Carter suggested is currently reserved not to the BBC but to the digital switchover (including the switchover’s mascot: the bastard son of the Smash Aliens). When the switchover is done this money will be sitting around gathering dust, as BBC execs salivate over the prospect of filling Jonathan Ross’s pockets with it. If we were to divide this £200m ‘surplus’ among the nations and regions Wales could get its 5%, or £10m (or 1.8 Welsh NHS’s). This is not far off ITV Wales’s current costs. Bingo.

15/06/2009, 3:26 pm
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Disgusted is back, and more disgusted than ever. My apologies for the absence of posts last week, which was due to family business and a few other things.

I am catching up on the news, mainly through the Western Mail. Summarised, their recent coverage of Welsh issues: the scandalous figure of £x has been spent brazenly/immorally/secretly by Y.

The financial comings and goings of our honourable members, WAGs and National Ass’es is one story. We could go over that again and again until people are so sick and disillusioned with politics that we end up with ‘representatives’ like Nick ‘No foreigners allowed to stand for my party’ Griffin.

Above these stories is another strata of money-wasting, one so eye-wateringly large yet barely spoken about. For example, MPs estimated that at 2006 prices the Trident nuclear warheads would cost some £14.9bn (not including the new submarines that would be needed to carry the precious and destructive cargo). Expressed another way, that’s 2.7 Welsh NHS’s, using the figure of £5.5bn from WAG’s budgets. By the way, England’s NHS IT upgrade (sic) was projected to cost 0.8 Welsh NHS’s but has since gone through the roof and launched into the atmosphere. The London Olympics in 2012 are set to cost about 1.8 Welsh NHS’s.

I’ve not done the math for other fields of Welsh expenditure but it’s an exercise that would be worth doing.

Incidentally, to measure time you might use the 45 minute unit, based on Iraqi WMDs (sic x 10,000,000): e.g. the Education and Training LCO took more than 12,500 WMDs.

Pistols at dawn
03/06/2009, 9:48 am
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Today’s Western Mail reports on the next All Wales Convention meeting on June 10th in Barry, the Vale of Glamorgan. It’s being held between 2pm and 4pm, so there’s little chance of that youth engagement that Emyr Jones Parry called for last week (unless they skip school to come).

For some reason the Western Mail has tacked on a story after that warning about “reports of people seen carrying the weapons in public spaces in the Vale of Glamorgan”. Let’s hope none of those people belong to Plaid Cymru or True Wales.