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‘Beige, soggy’ Welsh media not tough enough in scrutinising Welsh Government says ex Boris Johnson comms chief

09 Nov 2022 3 minute read
Guto Harri

The “beige, soggy” Welsh media is too “cosy” and not tough enough in scrutinising the Welsh Government, Boris Johnson’s ex-Director of Communications has said.

Guto Harri, who has formerly worked for the BBC and S4C, was called to give evidence to the Welsh Affairs Committee Commons Select Committee today.

He was asked by Delyn MP Rob Roberts whether journalism in Wales was too partial towards some political parties.

“Journalism in Wales could be a lot more muscular,” Guto Harri responded. “It should make politicians feel uncomfortable.

“I’ve just been on the receiving end of arguably the most brutal press and media in the world here in London. But it’s right. And the Prime Minister I served has always been very, very clear that he wants a robust press.

“A strong, robust, independent press that is prepared to kick you and hold you to account is part of a driver in our democracy to taking better decisions.

“I’m not sure that the press and media in Cardiff and across Wales is sufficiently robust and questioning in holding the administration in Cardiff to account as they should.

“They are not remotely as tough as the press and media are here holding this Conservative government to account.”

‘Robust’

The Welsh Affairs Committee chair, MP Stephen Crabb, asked Guto Harri why he thought the Welsh media did not scrutinise the Welsh Government to the same extent as the UK media scrutinised the UK Government.

“In London, there is a strong newspaper section,” Guto Harri answered. “There are very distinguished editors but they tend to not be shy about their views. And not be shy about putting forward their views of the world.

“We don’t have much of an independent press in Wales. I think WalesOnline are heroically doing their best, there are still some local papers, there are Welsh publications – Golwg, that the whole world heard about when I got my job in No 10.

“Barn is an excellent magazine, without naming all of them. They do their best.

“But there isn’t a Spectator, for a start. There isn’t a Telegraph. There isn’t a Mail. There isn’t any of that to condition the landscape.

“And then what you do have is a very, very dominant public service media presence which is now really well-resourced. I was part of a tiny team covering this place before power was devolved, and there were four or five of us. There are now vast numbers of people covering the Welsh Senedd, as there should be.

“But there seems to be a slightly beige, soggy consensus about it. How often do you hear the challenge that one in five people in Wales are on NHS waiting lists? That educational standards were so bad at one point that they stopped measuring them?

“That there was one FTSE 100 in Wales when power was devolved and there is still one FTSE100 in Wales.

“That child poverty was supposed to be the top priority for a Labour-led administration and years down the line, Mark Drakeford had to admit on Y Byd yn ei Le that it remains a shocking indictment of poor administration in Cardiff.

“So I think that a robust press that was a little less cozy, a little harder hitting, dare I say it a little bit more of that feistiness that they bring to Westminster politics, applied to Cardiff, would do everyone a word of good.”


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Brian
Brian
20 days ago

My name is Guto Harri and I am a traitor.

George Atkinson
George Atkinson
20 days ago

It was the toryscum who denied the Senedd the powers to deal with our own media. THEY ARE TO BLAME!
Also its the English who are in charge of the UK economy, so their blame shifting isn’t going to work. It’s their failure.

Last edited 20 days ago by George Atkinson
Gareth
Gareth
20 days ago

For him to claim that the British media is ” the most brutal press and media” he is, like his former boss, telling just plain lies. The main press and most popular in Britain, is 99% pro Tory, and the way they have let the Tory party off the hook is shameless. Even after 12 years in power, they still blame Labour and the devolved Govs, for the utter failure of Tory policy, while printing outright lies in defence of the UK Gov. Look how they reported the Kwarteng budget, greatest budget ever, they said, untill sterling collapsed. Hes talking… Read more »

Huw
Huw
20 days ago

So demanding of a challenging, robust media was the erstwhile PM that he hid in a ‘fridge better to enable its scrutiny of him. Tripe.

Aled Rees
Aled Rees
20 days ago

cachgi a chyffonwr
thank god we don’t have a daily mail or torygraph

Aled Rees
Aled Rees
20 days ago

sorry.cynffonwr.

GARETH WESTACOTT
GARETH WESTACOTT
20 days ago

He’s absolutely right there!

hdavies15
hdavies15
20 days ago

Well, he is and he isn’t ! The media in Wales may be beige and ineffective but the London centred MSM are either utterly opposed to a current government or seek to drive it to further extremes. That polarisation also renders most AngloBrit media ineffective. On the one hand you get a ranting, borderline deranged rags like D.T, Mail, Express, Sun pouring hatred in all directions feeding the dark prejudices of their “readers”, while on the other we have the Guardian and to some extent the Independent rolling out streams of stomach churning, simpering, virtue signaling clinker. And nothing of… Read more »

Y Tywysog Lloegr a Moscow
Y Tywysog Lloegr a Moscow
20 days ago

Do you mean far right?

I.Humphrys
I.Humphrys
20 days ago

I gave an uptick to you but was told I had already done so……………it’s like a US blue
voting machine?

Y Tywysog Lloegr a Moscow
Y Tywysog Lloegr a Moscow
20 days ago
Reply to  I.Humphrys

Yes mate. It’s a conspiracy 🙄

Quornby
Quornby
20 days ago

O dear what a disgrace…. Welsh media not dancing to the tune played by a Johnson apologist.

Y Tywysog Lloegr a Moscow
Y Tywysog Lloegr a Moscow
20 days ago

Dic Siôn Dafydd whines that the media in Cymru does not try to do English Tories’ work for them.
Is there any boot locker more vile that the bootlicker who turns on his own?
My dog deposits more appealing things in the back garden every morning than this suppurating sphincter of a man

Cathy Jones
Cathy Jones
20 days ago

What is truly worrying is that there is anyone left on this Earth who gives Guto Harri any credence whatsoever. He has all the integrity of a plasticine ladder.

Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
20 days ago

No question what passes for the ‘media’ in wales gives welsh labour a free ride (and at times seems to have an almost incestuous relationship with people in the party). Certainly it’s inconceivable eluned ‘brands hatch’ morgan would have survived as a welsh govt minister if more welsh media attention had been given to her numerous driving offences. Similarly questions around the green man festival, lobbyists and welsh labour govt ministers barely got a mention – let alone detailed scrutiny- in some sections of the welsh media (sad to say this website among them).

Wrexhamian
Wrexhamian
20 days ago

If Guto Harri truly believes that there are enough people in Wales who would buy a Welsh equivalent of the Mail, the Spectator or the Torygraph, he is welcome to squander his money in setting one up. No-one is suggesting that things have gone completely swimmingly under Welsh Labour, but there are online media critical of its record, e.g. Jac o’ the North, and Nation.Cymru occasionally. Harri might also reflect that a proposed enlarged Senedd will facilitate the greater scrutiny he requires, in the Siambr itself.

Last edited 20 days ago by Wrexhamian
Ivor Schilling
Ivor Schilling
19 days ago
Reply to  Wrexhamian

Jac O’ The North is something of a lone voice, unfortunately. Dont agree with everything he says, but he is doing more actual journalism for the benefit of Wales than all of the mainstream lot combined. Maybe he needs to look into crowdfunding something of a broader output (a news portal, or paper), something more lasting and with volunteer input.

Last edited 19 days ago by Ivor Schilling
Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
20 days ago

Rob Roberts and Guto Harri discussing a non entity (almost). Apart from Nation Cymru & Golwg 360, is there any WELSH media left that has not been taken over by London? Keep reading your propaganda rags lads and you’ll see how OUR country, not YOURS clearly, gets more than it’s unfair share of a vitriolic mullering daily. Pathetic!

CapM
CapM
20 days ago

“There isn’t a Telegraph. There isn’t a Mail. “
We can be thankful for small mercies I suppose.

If there were Welsh equivalents of the Telegraph and Mail then both would regularly disparage England and things English, whine about road signs being in English in England, promote the idea that Cymru is exceptional and that England should be grateful to have such a neighbour etc.

Or perhaps he imagines that a Welsh Telegraph and Daily Mail would be indistinguishable for the English versions apart from some paragraphs ending in “isn’t it”.
.

notimejeff
notimejeff
20 days ago

The lack of a national daily newspaper in either English or Welsh is in sharp contrast to Scotland and Ireland, which have several.As Harri says, Barn and Golwg do a good job but there is no publication to match the New Statesman or the Spectator. The Daily Post in North Wales and the Western Mail in the South are both owned by Trinity Mirror and do nothing to end this north-south division. Nation.cymru is welcome.

Argol Fawr!
Argol Fawr!
19 days ago
Reply to  notimejeff

NC is subsidised by the Welsh Gov and therefore must be cautious not to bite the hand that feeds them.

Llyn
Llyn
20 days ago

The big problem for the right complaint about this in Wales, is that the vast majority of Tory voters in Wales are not interested in what happens in Wales and many of them at best consider themselves British first and Welsh a distant second. This means they have little interest in Welsh politics and are perfectly happy reading the SE England focused Daily Mail, Express and Telegraphs. Leaving a primarily left leaning media whose readers are engaged and want to spend time reading about primarily Welsh issues.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
20 days ago

Wales has no true Welsh media thanks to treacherous Guto Harri and his Unionist sellouts. But Is this is the same little Englander who took the knee on GB News only to get two fingers and his marching orders by those antagonist sausage skins who argue free speech like a stuck record but denied him his.

Kerry Davies
Kerry Davies
20 days ago

What on earth would this amoral enabler of the Convict know about democracy?

Richard
Richard
20 days ago

Sir Guto is on this occasion right without any doubt at all.

Notttabottt
Notttabottt
20 days ago

You mean be like Channel 4 is to UK gov? Then threaten it when it tells the truth unlike all the other Tory infested media? c**t

Ivor Schilling
Ivor Schilling
19 days ago

He is strangely spot on though. Welsh ‘political’ broadcasts may as well be a branch children’s television.

George Bodley
George Bodley
14 days ago
Reply to  Ivor Schilling

At least it’s free if little Englander bull crap politics and views.little Englanders can keep their Tory News papers in little England.

Argol Fawr!
Argol Fawr!
19 days ago

We can trash Guto Harri as much as we like to make us feel better but we’re at risk of Throwing the baby out with the bathwater by outright dismissing everything he says here. Every administration needs checks and balances. The press should be a part of the process. Yet the Welsh press mostly regurgitate official statements instead of challenging politicians on their actions and inactions. Welsh gov and Local authority one’s.

Hen Rebel
Hen Rebel
19 days ago

He is right but fails to address why the majority of media in Wales is toothless and has very little interest in Welsh Political life. Quite simply ,eg in the north of Wales, local newspaper output is mainly by the Daily Post (reach Plc) with more advertising pages than actual content, welsh language content is confined to i page per week, the regional weeklies are erratic, three titles have now been condensed into one (Bangor, Anglesey, Holyhead mail-here you find the thoughtspeak from Virginia crosbie – who under no circumstances whatsover represents Bangor- for Sian Gwenllian or Hywel Williams you… Read more »

George Bodley
George Bodley
14 days ago

Screw Bozos chief another Tory Tosser.

Karl
Karl
14 days ago

Does he really mean not telling enough lies, like how does

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