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Former Welsh Secretary accuses BBC of being ‘enthusiast for devolution’ while forgetting England exists

08 Dec 2022 3 minute read
John Redwood MP by Richard Townshend (CC BY 3.0)

A former Welsh Secretary has accused the BBC of being “an enthusiast for devolution” while at the same time forgetting that “England exists”.

Sir John Redwood made his comments during a Commons debate on the future of BBC local radio.

He told the house that there was engagement with English issues on BBC Radio as the corporation has a “distorted view of devolution”.

“I see behind this centralised planning at the BBC a distorted version of what our constitution should look like within the United Kingdom and a wish to impose that against the very clear majority wishes of people when they’ve ever been asked these subjects in referenda and elections,” he said.

“Because it’s not just that they wish to create phoney regional groupings instead of truly local radio, but they have a very distorted view of devolution. The BBC seems to be an enthusiast for devolution, to Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

“But it doesn’t even know England exists. And it always wants lopsided devolution, one of the four important constituent parts of the United Kingdom is scarcely ever mentioned, it’s never suggested that it should have any powers or any right to self-government.

“There is no engagement with English issues on BBC Radio in the way that there’s a very clear engagement with Scottish issues or Welsh issues, or Northern Ireland issues, and this causes enormous resentment.”

‘Cardigan’

The debate came after the BBC said that local radio stations in England would have a significant number of programmes cut under new plans.

All 39 networks in England will keep their current schedule from 6am to 2pm, but after that shows will be shared.

There will be one “all-England” show from 10pm across the week, and on Sunday afternoons.

Rhodri Talfan Davies, director of Nations, said at the time the cuts were announced: “These are ambitious and far-reaching proposals to grow the value we deliver to local audiences everywhere.

“The plans will help us connect with more people in more communities right across England – striking a better balance between our broadcast and online services – and ensuring we remain a cornerstone of local life for generations to come.”

But Labour shadow culture minister Stephanie Peacock said in the Commons today that there is agreement among MPs that “the BBC should review their decision to end local programming on weekdays after 2pm”.

She told the Commons: “It’s absolutely right that institutions like the BBC modernise in an increasingly digital world, keeping pace with global media giants.

“But, in doing so, we must protect the traditional yet vital services like the excellent local radio network that makes our BBC the world-leading service it is.”

She added: “There is agreement across this House that the BBC should review their decision to end local programming on weekdays after 2pm and secure the future of the local radio network.

“Given the importance local communities place on local BBC radio, and the fact it’s an intrinsic part of what their licence fee goes towards, there is concern that reducing local content will drive a wedge between the BBC and the public to its detriment.”

Elsewhere in the debate, Conservative North Norfolk MP Duncan Baker likened BBC local radio to a “cosy cardigan”, saying “you put it on, you immediately have some familiarity”.


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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
2 months ago

There must have be an alien space craft fall to Earth on the night of the 17th of October 1964 and before it resumed its journey across the solar system a clutch of eggs were lain in a nest somewhere on these islands by mutants from another planet and every few years the shell of one cracks and out crawls another Welsh Secretary like some malignant ET…strangers in a strange land indeed…

Make It Stop
Make It Stop
1 month ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

He used to be known round Whitehall as “the Vulcan”. Stared straight at you, never blinked and turned his whole upper body to change gaze. May still be called that, but I wouldn’t know, luckily being retired now

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago
Reply to  Make It Stop

My other half worked in Welsh health at the time of Redwood’s vice-royalty. He totally refused to sign letters written in Welsh even with the full translation. She was leading on Europe-wide projects but virtually had her passport withdrawn, so anti-Europe was he. She remembers him as ‘Mr Spock’…

Dafydd
Dafydd
1 month ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

Nice to see the Robert A. Heinlein reference! Nadolig Llawen!

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago
Reply to  Dafydd

Diolch, Nadolig Llawen…

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
2 months ago

John Redwood should note this. On the list of 195 global nations plus other territories, England does NOT exist. Neither does Wales or Scotland. Ireland, however, DOES. It is entirely the fault of him and his ilk pushing the Union that we are all in this position so he should look at himself before speaking.

Marc
Marc
2 months ago

He has obviously not listened to the sports coverage on 5 Live , they talk of little else but England

The Original Mark
The Original Mark
1 month ago

I read this article last night, and I’m still lost for words this morning. Just what planet do these idiots live on?

Llyn
Llyn
1 month ago

As the Senedd is an important component of the British Constitution (backed by 2 referendums of the Welsh public) it appears odd the a “Conservative and Unionist” MP by implication would like the BBC to be sceptical about important sections of the British Constitution? Would he also like the BBC to be unenthusiastic about the the existence of the monarchy and the House of Commons?

Cynan again
Cynan again
1 month ago

I would be interested to see one iota of evidence for this. I mean apart from the “Traitors” gameshow (where the only Welsh person is a traitor) when do you even hear a Welsh accent on nay of their programming ever? Unless it was made in Wales (but pretending to be somewhere else) and they needed extras?
EBC is not pro-devolution because it barely acknowledges we even exist

Eifion
1 month ago

Wel wel, mr redwood, Lloegr ddim yn, cael digon o sylw “English votes for English laws” hwnna ydi o

Argol fawr!
Argol fawr!
1 month ago

I think Redwood and Mogg came out of the same mould, or do I mean mold.

Mr Williams
Mr Williams
1 month ago

John Redwood’s opinions are not worth the effort of getting angry.

Rob
Rob
1 month ago

Well what country am I looking at when I look across the Bristol Channel? Has Redwood not been following the World Cup? When England beat Wales the BBC would act like they had just beaten a bunch of Johnny Foreigners. Where I might have sympathy for Redwood is the lack of recognition England gets. No devolved English Parliament, you cannot fly the English flag without being called racist, no English anthem (the motion was scrapped a few years ago), and English votes for English laws scrapped last year. So if Redwood is looking for someone to blame then he should… Read more »

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