Friday, 7 October 2016

More Ambush Time than Question Time

I've long since stopped expecting any semblance of impartiality on BBCs Question Time programme. In the last few months the supposedly randomly selected audience has started more and more to a resemble a UKIP gathering - without the fighting of course. Furthermore in recent times it's become routine for anyone who challenges the accepted wisdom of the british state on any matter to get ambushed by 'randomly selected' members of the audience. Alex Salmond, Caroline Lucas, Natalie Bennet, John Mcdonnell and Diane Abbot have all found themselves in the show's crosshairs in recent months and last night it was the turn of Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood to get the 'treatment' in an edition of the show broadcast from Neath in south west wales.

A good friend of mine who lives in Neath who applied to be in the audience and who wanted to ask a question about the impact of brexit on Wales couldnt even get a ticket to be in the audience. But lo and behold an audience member from Carmarthen some 30 miles away got to ask Leanne a question about the Plaid controlled Carmarthenshire council's Welsh language policy in schools. I have to admit i dont know anything about the matter the audience member was referring to or indeed if it has any basis in fact but it's obviously no coincidence the programme's editorial team selected that question for discussion and no coincidence host David Dimbleby turned to leanne first for a response.

You dont have to be Columbo to work out the question was clearly selected because it was designed to try and damage leanne and damage her party on prime time tv. Worse still the resident tory on the panel the Welsh secretary of state Alan Cairns was permitted to imply that Plaid was somehow involved in the arson campaign against 'holiday homes' in wales in the late 1970s - and without so much as a word of admonishment from the show's host.

For those who may be unfamiliar with this topic the problems of empty holiday cottages in rural Wales was a major concern in the late 1970s. Local people in welsh speaking communities were unable to get housing while scores of properties - often snapped up by affluent people from the south east of England - lay empty and unused for most of the year. As a result a group calling itself Meibion Glyndwr (Sons of Glyndwr) carried out a series of arson attacks on dozens of unoccupied holiday cottages in Wales. It's worth pointing out at this juncture the issue of unoccupied holiday cottages hasnt just been confined to rural Wales - it's been a problem in other rural parts of the UK too in places like Cornwall, Yorkshire and Cumbria (and sad to report that decades on it's still a problem).

The welsh arson campaign ended in the early 1980s and despite a massive police operation no one was ever arrested or charged for the attacks. But there was certainly no evidence linking anyone in Plaid Cymru to the arson campaign. Indeed some well informed people on the welsh political scene have long suspected the british intelligence services may have been behind the arson attacks as part of a wider campaign to damage welsh nationalism. If that sounds far fetched to some people dont forget that former intelligence operatives like Fred Holroyd and Colin Walllace have confirmed that MI5 were up to all sorts of shenanigans in the north of ireland in the 70s and 80s - sometimes with deadly results.

But any uninformed observers watching last night's Question Time might well have gone away with the impression that Plaid Cymru (an essentially left of centre party it should be noted) is a party which is only interested in the welsh language and whose members used to go around burning cottages owned by english people. And just to be sure the viewers at home 'got the message' there was a bizarre cameo from an audience member - obviously straight from central casting - labelling plaid 'racist'. I think we can safely say that with regards to Last Night's Question Time it was job done so far as british state is concerned, and it can surely only be a matter of time before we hear those 3 little words - 'arise Sir David'.

Given the shabby treatment their representatives repeatedly get on the show maybe it's time the left in the UK formed a pact and agreed to boycott the show? And with the 'randomly selected' QT audiences increasingly made up of kippers it would surely make sense for the programme's panel to follow suit? The show could hardly get any more right wing than it has become - and after yesterday's startling events in Strasbourg it certainly wouldnt be boring.


  1. The problem for Plaid is that it didn't condone the actions of Meibion Glyndwr. Not then and not now.

    This represents a clear and present danger for any civil society.

    1. If plaid didnt 'condone' the actions of the so called Meibion Glyndwr how is that a problem anon? And im afraid ive really no idea how you can say Plaid is a 'danger' to civil society.

  2. It wasn't just homes owned by English people. This is history. We need to get on with what is happening now. Plaid is doing this. It is in noway a racist party. You don't have to be welsh speaking and you can be any nationality. This welsh speaking nonsense is just that and people are fed this as a means to undermine Plaid and our future the people who live in Wales.

  3. Yes lorraine i think Alan Cairns was playing to the gallery so to speak when he made those deeply disappointing comments. A 'gallery' which unfortunately likes to try and divide people in wales along language lines. Politicians opposed to greater self government for wales have sadly been doing this for decades - in fact the likes of the kinnocks and george thomas developed it into an art form.

    I remember a welsh speaking friend once telling me the language is a treasure and belongs to everyone in wales. He was right - it is a treasure and it does belong to all of us.

    It's the brexit backing british nationalists who are obsessed with peoples place of origin and who want to keep 'foreigners' out - not those of us who support self government for wales.