Revelations that Scotland’s economy would shrink by billions of pounds if it became independent, have focused attention on the controversial organisation pushing for it in Wales, which was forced to delete a sexist promotional video after howls of outrage on social media and said it would launch an investigation into anti-Semitism, it has emerged.
The findings of an £11 billion hit a year to the Scottish economy, come in a report from the London School of Economics (LSE) and City University of Hong Kong (CUHK). Researchers discovered that quitting the UK’s common market would strike the economy of Scotland two to three times as hard as leaving the EU, just counting the impact on trade alone. The UK is Scotland’s largest and most important trading partner, the report said, accounting for 61 per cent of its exports as well as 67 per cent of its imports – around four times greater than its trade with the EU – and independence would increase trading costs with the rest of the UK by 15 per cent to 30 per cent.
These figures are likely to be even higher in Wales, where there is also a greater dependency on the UK Government for jobs. Yet the group YesCymru (YC) campaigns strongly for an independent Wales, saying on its website: “Our group will promote independence for Wales through a range of activities, to make the case that Wales, like so many other nations throughout the world, would be better running its own affairs, as part of a wider European and international family”.
But YC has made other news for all the wrong reasons. A contentious sexist video by the group (promoting Welsh independence) which was immediately deleted, has been condemned on social media, with one outraged critic stating: “fire the pig that designed it”. This alarming news came hard on the heels of revelations on The Eye that splits were emerging in YC, with one angry supporter tweeting that he had cancelled his membership, while another had shown his fury that he claimed the organisation had ‘liked’ a tweet from a right wing party, which it had also ‘retweeted’.
The cartoon YC video at the centre of the storm last month, showed the legs of a woman wearing stockings and red arms, with a map of Wales for her body, screaming “YEEEEEEEEEEES” in the caption below. But it was slammed on Twitter, and one detractor said about it: “I find it astonishing – and cowardly – that @YesCymru have merely deleted that sexist, appalling video from last night and not acknowledged the disgust felt by their membership and apologised for the offence caused, not to mention the damage sustained to the campaign”.
This, though, has not been the only controversy to have engulfed YC.
In August one of its members Kerry-Anne Mendoza (see story soon) had written: “Get Brexit done Build, build, build, Jobs, jobs, jobs Arbeit macht frei”. But it was only this month that the organisation had taken action, with the chair of YC Sion Jobbins saying: “We will be discussing the matter (her alleged anti-Semitism generally) as a committee in conjunction with our new diversity and inclusion lead officer who will be starting work for us on Monday (February 15)“.
Ms Mendoza joined YC in the Autumn, shortly after moving to Wales from her home city of Bristol, and her account tweeted news of her membership to its 59,000 followers. She is the Editor of the left-wing website The Canary, but was suspended briefly from Twitter following complaints about another post in which she compared those attending the Jewish Labour Movement’s conference to “white supremacists”.
Former Cardiff Council leader, the Liberal Democrats’ Welsh Parliament/Senedd Cymru (WP/SC) candidate for Cardiff Central Rodney Berman said: “The decision to admit and then publicly welcome this individual raises serious questions regarding the priorities and values of YesCymru. Quite frankly, it’s appalling”
Meanwhile after the then Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s defeat at the polls in December 2019, she suggested that those who opposed Labour over anti-Semitism would be attacked. Ms Mendoza also accused (Jewish) writer and columnist Jonathan Freedland of “manufacturing” the 2019 General Election result.
In January 2020 she claimed celebrations over the completion of Brexit could turn into a “21st century Kristallnacht” when Jewish properties were destroyed. After the Jewish Chronicle (JC) raised concerns about Ms Mendoza’s appearance at a Labour party meeting, she tweeted: “Black woman can’t talk about racism, says white man”.
Ms Mendoza has also appeared more than once on the controversial state-backed television station, Russia Today (RT) which is accused of being a mouthpiece of the autocratic Russian leader Vladimir Putin, and has played host to the conspiracy theorist in Wales, Anna Brees. For the programme On Contact, Ms Mendoza said she wanted an “alternative media”. She was also interviewed by Max Keiser on his show The Keiser Report, and declared that austerity is a “fig leaf” designed to conceal aggressive neoliberal policies
Despite all of this past history, YC has labelled her a “rock star” in a tweet which was ‘liked’ numerous times by several vocal and high-profile activists.
The organisation appears, too, to be offering highly questionable information. YC has claimed that opinion polls report support for Welsh independence among younger people is “around 40-50 %” and says: “Independence is becoming common sense view within young people in Wales.”. But the truth is that recent opinion polls suggest the figure among younger people is far lower than this, and also make clear that the vast majority of people in Wales support Welsh parties which are opposed to independence.
These facts though, like the research showing the multi-billion pound loss to the Scottish economy in the event of independence, have not been published by YC, but that has not stopped uncritical pieces about the group in the Welsh mainstream media.
One of the biggest broadcasters in Wales published an adulatory ‘story’ about YC, and another leading Welsh media organisation talked about its “rise”– yet both failed to challenge membership figures when other statistics have been highly debatable, they did not raise the negative news that one of its branches celebrated a potential attack on a UK military base in North Wales, and that another had said unionists “refuse to integrate”, or that a supporter who claims he invented the group’s ‘app’ wants to talk about banning gay people from Wales.
The ‘report’ about YC by ITV Cymru Wales’ Ellie Pitt, for example, began: “‘Westminster isn’t working for Wales’. These are the five words I have been hearing all week. Over the last few days I have had numerous conversations with recent joiners to the Welsh Independence group YesCymru.” But nowhere in the article is the body challenged about the huge criticism which has followed close analysis of the official social media account belonging to YC, which reveals it has far fewer ‘likes’ and ‘retweets’ than officials maintain.
Yet ITV Cymru Wales is not alone. The website WalesOnline (whose Editor, now known as the ‘Audience and Content Director’ Paul Rowland, threatened to sue our own man in charge Phil Parry) published another piece which, again uncritically, put the views of YC, beneath the tendentious headline: “The rise of Yes Cymru and why people are joining in their thousands”.
The ‘report’ on the website declared that: “By October, it (YC) had around 8,000 (members). In the past ten days or so that has shot up to 14,000. One thousand new members signed up on Monday alone, with a further thousand on Tuesday, which is why the group thinks something special is happening”.
Perhaps ‘special’ is not the right word to use, when the cause of independence has been undermined by revelations that Scotland’s economy would shrink by billions of pounds if it became independent, and attention was then focused on the controversial organisation pushing for it in Wales, which has been forced to delete a sexist promotional video after protests on social media, as well as having to say it would launch an investigation into anti-Semitism…
Bank robbery part two is next week, where The Eye explores how the figures on independence, could affect the funding of another nationalist organisation supported by the taxpayer where the Editor promotes it.
The memories of our Editor Phil Parry’s extraordinary decades long award-winning career in journalism (when uncomfortable facts were always presented in interviews) as he was gripped by the incurable disabling condition Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP), have been released in the book ‘A GOOD STORY’. Order the book now! The picture doubles as a cut-and-paste poster!