Mark Drakeford, Welsh health minister and professor of social policy no less (these days, just about everyone who has attended the Cardiff university Welsh madrassa is a professor of something or other), was spouting forth on the Sunday Politics show last Sunday – the Welsh version, which I assure readers is far more entertaining than Andrew Neil’s London spot.
Whilst ducking and diving in true Welsh government fashion, he seemed to be of the opinion that viewers were privileged to hear his pearls of medicinal wisdom and that indeed they were lucky to see him at all. He did have better things to do than accounting for himself you know. I mean, never mind the fact that the Welsh NHS is receiving less money than the English NHS due to Carwyn’s Bernie ap Madoff accountancy rules and farcical use of taxpayers’ money to generate no hope causes eg billions of European hard earned going AWOL, Carwyn’s Carriers at Cardiff airport, business ‘Techniums’ and bankrupt pubs (I’m not joking, see next column).
He began his justifications with a flogged out, tedious and somewhat pedestrian class war diatribe aimed at Cameron’s “telescopic Etonian” perceptions of right not being might – I wonder who wrote that for him? One cannot help but wonder here, what his views on Fettes College elitism and doctoral graduates of the University of Edinburgh are? Not quite the stuff of a Cardiff madrassa, are they? Maybe he had eaten too many laverbread splattered Welsh cakes for breakfast, who knows?
So, the point of all this?
The interview was a classic example of Carwyn’s government being camera shy and not taking kindly to public scrutiny. The soundings I hear from the Welsh media are all the same: Carwyn’s gegin cabinet (gegin, Welsh for kitchen) are always reluctant to show their faces and take a sound thrashing from their masters, indeed they won’t even advise the Assembly Communications Office of briefing times.
Allow me to give you a more personal example of the Welsh government’s contempt for democratic accountability and scrutiny. Only last week when I telephoned its press office for notification of press briefings, one Matthew Pritchard implied I was lying and then in a fit of juvenile tantrum slammed down the phone when I advised that I am a member of the NUJ (with a press pass), I write regularly for SWW Media (owners of the Evening Post, Star, Journal etc etc) and that I have made contributions to both Welsh and national broadcasting and media (BBC’s Sunday Politics being one of them ).
Where previous requests for comment were made to the head of the Welsh government’s press office (one Simon Jenkins, no Alastair ap Campbell I hazard, more a pacifist Ghandi without the loincloth) were concerned, the response was always the same. ‘We do not respond to blogs ie Uncut.’ This ruefully robotic and shifty reply may well have some merit, were it not for the fact that I write for the Welsh press and not just Uncut? Further I am certainly not lying, as Mr Pritchard implies. The evidence to refute this scurrilous accusation is all over the internet for all and sundry to see.
I should mention here, that the Welsh Labour Party press office is no better. Their communications apparatchik Huw Price ( I wonder what his salary is?), is equally inclined to Putinesque lock down when it comes to any kind of journalistic scrutiny that, in his profound sound bite and protective wisdom, may be deemed even remotely inquisitive.
Where Uncut is concerned, I suspect that both Jenkins and his toy throwing side-kick Pritchard, have been too distracted by the pages of Goebbels Diaries and a parochially compliant Welsh media to consider that internet news platforms are rapidly taking over from their print counterparts. The Welsh government may not like my pointed criticisms in these columns and elsewhere, but it is accountable and subject to unapologetic scrutiny whether it likes it or not.
We live in a democracy, albeit that Carwyn and his professorial Team Druid would have the Welsh believe otherwise.
What will they try and do next?
Stop me going to Liberal Democrat and Tory press briefings?
As I have said before, Carwyn’s Labour is not Ed’s Labour and as far as I know Ed hasn’t just forked up £6,661 of taxpayers’ money for a personal 75-inch office TV either.
Julian Ruck is an author, journalist and columnist. He also makes contributions to both Welsh and national broadcasting and media.
Tags: accountability democracy, Julian Ruck, Letter from Wales, Mark Drakeford