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Opinion

State-funded satirist pens balanced article

01 Oct 2023 6 minute read
Andrew RT Davies. Stefan Rousseau PA Wire; 20mph sign. Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Ben Wildsmith

Absolute scenes in the Senedd this week as First Minister Mark Drakeford further tightened his grip on freedom of speech in the nation.

Wearing his customary peaked cap, epaulettes, and mirrored sunglasses, the Premier swept into the chamber accompanied by an escort of female bodyguards, who are recruited from his tribal stronghold in Carmarthenshire.

There had, he raged, been threats against his personal safety. As a punitive measure, his government would be reducing the national speed limit to 10 mph over the Christmas period.

‘Your Judeo-Christian festivals mean nothing in the New Wales,’ Drakeford glowered.

‘Loyal citizens may celebrate a responsible Ecomas in the safety of their own homes. Dissidents will be struggled with by the masses and held to account by licensed journalists.’ A spontaneous round of applause broke out in the press gallery, where correspondents had been issued with new iPads by the regime.

There you go: three solid paragraphs of anti-Welsh Government satire, as demanded week-on-week by puce-faced Twitter commentators with profile pictures that feature them holding large game fish aloft.

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Stop the boats!

‘Balance’

Mindful of your insistence on ‘balance’, however, you’ll forgive me if I briefly cast an eye over this week’s contributions from Andrew ‘Reliable Target’ Davies.

It seems that Windcheater Winston feels that his treatment at the hands of this outlet has been too robust.

In response to Mark Drakeford’s disclosure that thousands of threats had been made against himself and Deputy Minister for Climate Change, Lee Waters, Davies complained that Nation Cymru, a ‘purported news site’, had ‘painted a target’ on the backs of him and his family.

Suggesting that Nation Cymru be defunded, Davies sought to draw an equivalence between our coverage of him and threats on social media to coordinate physical attacks on the First Minister.

Who knew that the horny-handed son of the soil was such a fragile soul? I’d been given to understand that this plain-talking defender of free speech welcomed a bracingly agricultural approach to political discourse.

The idea of his whimpering into the silage due to journalistic doggedness seems off-brand.

Davies’ own approach to the national debate is notable for two reasons: a propensity to misrepresent facts in the service of narrative — see the ‘blanket’ 20 mph limit or Labour’s supposed desire to hand £1600 a month to asylum seekers — and a willingness to repeat such claims relentlessly, and long after they have been discredited.

Troll

Davies is an internet troll. His Twitter account exists not to inform nor persuade the electorate, but to inflame it.

A sympathetic explanation for this behaviour is that Davies hopes that entrenching division will shore up the existing Conservative vote in the upcoming Westminster election. A glance at the polls, however, suggests that this strategy isn’t bearing fruit.

Another, less palatable, explanation for Davies’ online behaviour is that it is unrelated to electoral behaviour in Wales and not aimed at us at all. The Tories in England are facing the loss of previously safe seats, and their biggest fear is that elderly, traditionally Conservative voters will stay at home on election day. It is to these voters that the culture war is pitched.

The fringe fearmongering that used to be the preserve of UKIP et al has now been deployed by a government that sees an existential threat to the Conservative brand.

Knowing that we are an electoral lost cause, the party has utilised Davies to peddle misinformation about life here in Wales and spook English voters about the prospect of Labour governance.

He is, however, a minor player in the wider game.

Disintegration

The disintegration of UK politics is happening at a dizzying speed.

In the last week alone, we have seen Suella Braverman unleash an attack on multiculturalism that drew condemnation from the United Nations, while over on GB News, where Davies appears alongside Lee Anderson, Jacob Rees-Mogg, and Nigel Farage, a female journalist found herself attacked in sexual terms by Lawrence Fox.

This is desperate, grim stuff and, after the election, we can expect to watch the protagonists play musical chairs, as they seek to cling on to whatever political or media positions remain open to them.

We’ll see what all Davies’ tweets are worth to him then, I suppose.

Losers

The direct losers from Davies’ clownish political persona, and disinterest in the nuts and bolts of Welsh policymaking are serious Conservative politicians and voters who would like to see a centre-right government in the Senedd.

Wales is, and always has been, to the left of centre in relation to England. It follows, therefore, that electoral success for the Conservatives is unlikely to come from the extreme right wing of the party.

In pursuing the approval of that faction in England, Davies has left mainstream conservatism without a voice on his own watch.

There is plenty to take issue over with our Labour government. From NHS outcomes to Cardiff Airport, and a perceived over-cautiousness in approach, an engaged opposition could hold it to account in a way that made it a potent force.

Instead, the Welsh electorate has been used as scenery in the disaster movie of Westminster politics by a politician who seems ambivalent at best as to whether the democracy that has sustained him thus far should exist at all.

If Davies has a target on his back, it is not because the press has painted it on him.

Rather, he has chosen to place himself beyond the pale of reasoned debate in Wales, and the incoming arrows he should worry about are from sensible Conservatives who have had enough of being humiliated by his leadership.


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Dafydd Huw
Dafydd Huw
6 months ago

Excellent response by NC. Good response to the right wing troll that is Andrew right wing t××ser

Dai Rob
Dai Rob
6 months ago

Class again Ben, as per usual!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

adrian savill
adrian savill
6 months ago

gwych

Gareth
Gareth
6 months ago

Clywch clywch. Dethroned not so long ago by the real conservatives, only to be re instated, and then mirror the London cabal by purging the traditional conservative members. A cheap version of Trump, who not only criticised and mocked every move by the Senedd, but offered no credible alternative, while spreading falsehood after falsehood. Will be remembered as another John Redwood, but without being recognised as Redwood was, by his London masters. Essentially a nobody to the London Tory’s who he hope’s to impress.

Last edited 6 months ago by Gareth
Y Cymro
Y Cymro
6 months ago

Today potato head Welsh Tory leader Andrew RT Davies spoke at the Conservative party conference in Manchester and he described the Welsh Government 20mph default speed limit law as, and I quote his words. ” Extreme ideology”. Well, well. My understanding.of extremism differs greatly to this pompous pig farmer with zero charisma. Less we forget. This is the same man who represents a Conservative party whose Home Secretary and daughter of economic migrants herself Suella Braverman stated how she “dreamt of sending migrants home” and stated “simply being Gay doesn’t qualify you for asylum” rant in America recently. What about… Read more »

Annibendod
Annibendod
6 months ago

I guess every cloud has a silver lining – I certainly don’t recall as many folk giving up on the Tory UK establishment and considering greater Welsh autonomy, even if that doesn’t translate into full statehood yet. Fe ddaw eto haul ar fryn – fe godwn eto.

Jeff
Jeff
6 months ago

This the bloke at his conference spouts “extreme ideology” yet is happy to remove the uk from the ECHR? He is happy to remove some fundamental rights from everyone in Wales just so he can get a gold star from Braverman, rather extreme idiology to fix a problem his party created and goose step down a path that ruined a nation and millions of lives last century.

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
6 months ago
Reply to  Jeff

RT is a farmer who may have his eye off the ball. Are we likely to hear how he is being screwed over by the Tory Australia deal or is his farming model exempt from that or has he already indemnified himself from its’ effects like Rees Mogg did by transferring his interests to Dublin after selling the Break-it disaster to the rest of us?

Gareth
Gareth
6 months ago
Reply to  Fi yn unig

Mr Davies insured himself from the post Brexit deals, by claiming £ 100 thousand EU farming subsidy just before we left. Hate the EU, claim all the benefits. Didnt Nigel Farage do the same ?
https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&opi=89978449&url=https://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/politics/welsh-conservative-leader-received-nearly-11040379&ved=2ahUKEwi7-8em6dWBAxXoh_0HHVbUBoMQFnoECBQQAQ&usg=AOvVaw1wv0csVFcSEnZRqBamPLma

Jeff
Jeff
6 months ago
Reply to  Fi yn unig

2 options. He is duped by the existing spin from Tufton St for he is all in. I suspect he is all in. There is no way at this level of politics you support Braverman unless you buy it and it fits your outlook. There is no way you keep writing pieces for the usual suspect rags or appear on gbeebies geared up to fight the Tufton St corner and not see it for what it is. I wonder how many on the Cons Welsh opposite bench are grinning and bearing it. I would have walked by now.

Jonathan Dean
Jonathan Dean
6 months ago

I’ve always considered ARty to be Welsh Labour’s greatest election asset. I’m surprised the other Welsh Conservatives don’t try to hold him back, but what do I know?

Jeff
Jeff
6 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan Dean

Problem is we don’t have a decent opposition. Every governing body need scrutiny. Look at the way Boris cleared the deck of anyone that would oppose him. He got rid of good people and the UK is now left with the dregs and some of the worst people in power ever.

Looks like Welsh Cons are doing the same. Dissent is verboten in the ranks or else. There are decent Cons in Wales, but not allowed to challenge Mr Davies? Thought there was a good one on the way up then he popped up with Farage.

Rob Pountney
Rob Pountney
6 months ago

Absolutely nailed it…

Rob
Rob
6 months ago

I wonder if the Welsh Tories regret ditching Paul Davies in favour of RT Davies? What Paul Davies did in the Senedd was nothing compared to Partygate.

Richard E
Richard E
6 months ago

Defunding of alternative voices that seek to cover the views of at the very least a third of current Wales opinion Versus the rack of 🗞️ news outlets, tv channels and pod casts that cover the 20 per cent who see ARTDs West Anglia unionist alliance.

Are we in Russia , Hungary, Belarus etc etc ?

Philip Davies
Philip Davies
6 months ago
Reply to  Richard E

Nation.Cymru is funded by readers donations, a fairly modest periodical grant in five figures from the Books Council of Wales and advertising. There’s nothing wrong with partisanship and it is perfectly appropriate that those who see Wales’ future as an independent one should have a voice. Nevertheless, it is equally acceptable that questions have been raised asking whether any taxpayer subvention is appropriate for what is essentially a campaigning periodical. I myself tend to view the modest subvention in the light of important historical Welsh struggles to define ourselves to at least some degree apart from our powerful and at… Read more »

Last edited 6 months ago by Philip Davies
Richard E
Richard E
6 months ago
Reply to  Philip Davies

You lost me at the very end my friend – good comments in 99.9 but –

Wales is a one party state and almost always was – hence the state we are in !

Philip Davies
Philip Davies
6 months ago
Reply to  Richard E

Wales is still nominally a democracy – but machine politics is always in the background of all democracies, often directing a mere fiction of representative government from behind the scenes. So I’d agree we were at least in danger of becoming an oligarchy. I nevertheless chose to end my appeal to the Editor of this journal in an upbeat and encouraging way. Please forgive my presumptive optimism! Surely the fundamental reason we are losing democracy is that not enough people really believe in it any more? And so it pains me when this National Journal stoops to petty point-scoring and… Read more »

Last edited 6 months ago by Philip Davies

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