Thursday, August 25, 2005

Column, August 2, 2005

AS contributions to political debate go, the one tapped out by Aled Cottle is hardly the most helpful.
Wales has had more than its fair share of great orators, men and women who were often able to sway public opinion solely through the power of their words.
Lloyd George, Nye Bevan, Gwynfor Evans and Neil Kinnock have all made their mark on the character of this country through their speeches.
It’s fair to say that Mr Cottle’s memorable, albeit brief, remarks were about as useful as Corporal Jones of Dad’s Army who often volunteered of the enemy that they: “Don’t like it up ‘em.”
Writing to a website so obviously partisan as Natwatch, the one to which Mr Cottle is said to have fired off his intemperate e-mail, was a mistake.
Pointing out that the Anglo Saxons originally came from Holland/Germany was about as useful to a 21st century audience as telling them that Julius Caesar arrived here from Rome.
Using abusive language rather negated whatever mixed up point was trying to be made in the first place.
It’s easy to see why a website set up to expose “the failure, mendacity and xenophobia of nationalists in Scotland and Wales” would stir up hostility in some quarters. But to respond with a tirade like that is simply playing into their hands.
What a shame there was no-one there to say in the finest traditions of bar-room brawls: “Put down the keyboard Aled, they’re not worth it.”
It was a brave move of Labour AM Carl Sargeant to call for Mr Cottle’s job. I trust he will be insisting this set a precedent and that AMs and MPs, all of whom, like Mr Cottle, are paid from the public purse, should forfeit their jobs if anything other than honeyed words are uttered by them. Unfortunately at the moment we have to wait until an election to remove them if we are offended by their words or deeds.
It’s good to see Mr Sargeant taking a stand over the decline in political debate though and I’m sure he will be insisting his political colleagues live up to the same standards that he sets for Menter Iaith staff like Mr Cottle.
But what of this site Natwatch. Well you can see it for yourself at and make your own minds up.
You’ll notice though that all of its messages are by the conveniently anonymous “price4president” and that while the site is keen to expose the mendacity of nationalists, it’s not so keen on debate, as you cannot post a message to the site yourself, unlike many other Blogs.
It’s latest contribution to the Welsh political scene is this: “Tomorrow Nat Watch will be gate-crashing Seimon Glyn's annual family holiday. Yes, you've guessed it. We're sending a correspondent to the Eisteddfod (lucky her!). We will bring you a series of special reports from the maes, at the biggest Welsh nat festival of the year.”
You and I thought the Eisteddfod was a cultural festival where all shades of political opinion were present. It would seem price4president knows better.
And it is interesting, very interesting, that the two AMs who have drawn our attention to a site that has only been running since May are both Labour AMs. First Leighton Andrews and now Carl Sargeant. How very public-spirited of them.
If you want the alternative view, log onto which has a healthier attitude to debate.

AND talking of unhealthy contributions to debate, this missive recently arrived after a recent column.
Now, I have to preface it with a health warning – I don’t believe someone could be stupid enough to hold these views.
It’s timing, coming so soon after the Cottle e-mail scandal is somewhat suspicious as well. Almost as if it were intended as a diversion. Make your own minds up anyway.

I read your column last week, I agree 100% with Chris Bryant , cos no one cares about Welsh language, no one speakes it, I moved here 10 years ago from London and I’ve heard little Welsh. We are in Britain don’t these thickoes speak English?!
Its not a real language anyway, it should be BANNED! Only sheep*******s speake it! And for your information Welsh not never happened, its just propaganda from nationalists who should be shot. So a valley drowned for a resov resouvir, who cares?
If I had my way I’d drown the whole f***ing Wales! And you’re ignorant, cos I walked into a pub other nite in Rhyl and everyone turned Welsh – all talking about me! Why don’t you wright abot that.
From a PROUD Englishman”

Dear God almighty where to start, where to start?
Well, 14 errors of spelling, grammar or punctuation in the space of 135 words does rather make one wonder just what this little man is so proud of. These ‘thickoes’ probably do speak English, and I’m prepared to lay money that they have a better command of it than the rather loose grip he has of its intricacies.
They’re my asterisks, not his, this is, after all, a family newspaper and there might be children reading, and I’m already exposing them to his atrocious spelling, best to spare them his appalling language as well.
While claiming in his first paragraph that no-one speaks Welsh, he says as he signs off that when he walked into a pub in Rhyl everyone started speaking Welsh and they were all talking about him. A contradiction which, unsurprisingly, doesn’t strike our letter writer all that readily.
It does rather make one wonder which pub though, because Rhyl is hardly a heartland of the language. If it did happen, I’m sure that if the letter’s author looks as mad as he sounds most people were indeed talking about him and one word would have been on their lips – NUTTER.
I’m taking it that a ‘resouvir’ is a reservoir, and as for drowning all of Wales, well you had a go not so long ago and gave up. But I would point out that Wales is generally a good bit higher than England and so if you ever succeeded then England would sink below the waves long before we did.

ONTO a far more rational correspondent. This is from Stan Granton, a reader from Anglesey, who like many parents is fighting the council’s decision to make parents cough up a lump sum to pay for children’s bus fares.

“Dear David,

Thanks for highlighting the plight of Anglesey parents, of which I am one. This ridiculous new charge is horrendously high, I have two children at high school and one more going in Sept 2006, yes that magic £180 comes to mind.
There is a side of this situation that I think some people have missed. Many parents such as myself, will choose to do the school run themselves, I am in a position to be able to take and collect my children on a daily basis.
I know many more from Llanfairpwllgwyngyll, who will also be doing the same. Can you imagine the congestion at approximate. 8.30am and 3.30 PM, dreadful, and I suspect that other parents on Anglesey with children at the other high school will do the same.
This will go against both UK Government, Assembly Government and police policies. We parents are forever being told to stop the school run in order to reduce early morning and early afternoon congestion.
I am unable to comment on the situation at the other high schools on the island, but I do know that Ysgol David Hughes's site will struggle to cope with the numbers that will be involved.
Just to give you the figures relating to Ysgol David Hughes, 600 children between Llandegfan and Llanfairpwllgwyngyll. Yes that £36,000 for school transport should we all be mug enough to pay.
I would be grateful if you could ask parents of Anglesey, both high school and junior level(after all they will one day be affected if we do not stop this) to write to Anglesey Council Education and Leisure Department to protest.
The more of us that do this the more they will realize that this situation is going to get out of hand should they go ahead. I for one do not have the ability to keep £180 a year spare with three growing children around, getting them back to school and though the year is expensive enough without this added cost.
I reckon I spend approximately £1,830 per year on my children's requirements for school, (uniform, trips, shoes and coats, dinner money and school equipment.)
Hoping that you are able to help and thanks for your comments in your column lots of us are affected and support form someone such as yourself is grateful appreciated.”

The decision by Anglesey is bad for children, bad for education and bad for the environment and it is time that someone with an ounce of common sense on that council got a grip of the situation and revoked what is a bad policy.


Nic said...

I'm glad someone out there is thinking what I'm thinking.

Banksy said...

Hello Nic,

The link you've posted wouldn't open for some reason , but I'm guessing it might be along the lines of speculating who might be behind Natwatch.

Have you seen you've been namechecked there recently?

Banksy said...

Ah, I've just looked at your blog and found what you linked to.

Seems pretty much on the money to me.