The publication of details in a controversial report saying Welsh independence is a “viable” option by the biggest broadcaster in Wales, failed to mention that the survey’s co-author stood as a candidate for Plaid Cymru (Plaid), her sister was a key figure in assembling the information, or that she wears her nationalism on her sleeve, The Eye can reveal.
The details about the latest observations from the Independent Commission on the Constitutional Future of Wales, by the BBC state: ‘Independence for Wales is a “viable” option… It (the commission) is co-chaired by Prof Laura McAllister and former Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams and the panel included figures from the four main political parties.
‘Prof McAllister said it was vital that the report “acts as an impetus for change for the people of Wales in the future and we want the conversation to continue”‘.
Former leader of Welsh nationalist party Plaid, Adam Price, included a link to the corporation’s piece on social media, proclaming: “It’s official, Welsh independence is viable (Welsh flag emoji) This is a huge step forward…”.
Before the report’s publication he wrote on Facebook (FB): “Tomorrow, the Independent Commission on the Constitutional Future of Wales will release its report. It may be the first official report to say that Welsh independence has advantages. Here’s why the report matters”.
Present Plaid leader Rhun ap Iorwerth, seemingly endorsed this contentious view by saying on BBC Wales Today (WT) that the best way for Wales to control key issues was through independence.
But apparently undermining any possible “impetus for change” towards this, is news about Professor McAllister.
She stood as a candidate for Plaid in Bridgend at the 1987 General Election (GE), and in Ogmore at the one which followed in 1992.
Professor McAllister is a former Welsh international football player, and closely tied to sport in Wales, as well as being at one time the chairwoman of ‘Sport Wales’, but a damning audit by accountants Deloitte, condemned the way contracts there had been awarded.
It said ‘Sport Wales’ risked damaging its reputation in the way it awarded contracts, by giving a consultant the specifications for a tender two days before his competitors.
Her sister, Fiona, was also a senior member of the research body which gave ‘evidence’ to the commission on possible independence, and accusations of a conflict of interest have been made.
Professor McAllister has, too, publicised the fact that she is a “Welsh woman” and that the BBC Proms made her feel like a “foreign tourist”, yet this was distasteful to many people in Wales.
Several years ago, Professor McAllister had written in her regular Welsh newspaper column: “I do realise that my national identity (Welsh) has been shaped and expressed largely through sport, but the Proms’ Union Jack waving (albeit with a smattering of European, Welsh and Scottish flags mixed in) and Rule Britannia make me feel like a foreign tourist”.
One keen observer of the Welsh political scene told The Eye: “It is extraordinary.
“NOWHERE in the BBC’s version of the report does it give the background of McAllister. Of course she would say that independence is a viable option! Nothing like impartiality in Wales. Does the word even exist in Taffia circles?”
This comes at a difficult time for the giant corporation (see stories soon), as major questions are being asked in the media about its impartiality.
Recently The Daily Telegraph declared on its front page: ‘BBC audiences think the corporation is not “sufficiently impartial”, the Culture Secretary says today as she announces tougher scrutiny of the broadcaster to deal with perceived bias’.
But other issues also raise questions about Professor McAllister and the judgement of the BBC.
She talked to the notorious ex-lobbyist Daran Hill about electoral reform on Senedd tv, but he was later jailed, after admitting two counts of distributing indecent images of children and three counts of making them.
Apart from appearing on television with Mr Hill and standing as a Plaid candidate, Professor McAllister went to Qatar as well to cheer on the Welsh football team at the World Cup (WC) there but fell foul of the authorities for wearing the wrong kind of hat.
To commentators, publicly announcing her attendance at the WC seemed strange, as her sexuality (she is gay) would be treated as a crime in the country.
One outraged reader showed his concern in a piece about her on the nationalist website Nation.Cymru (NC).
The site has been accused of being a mouth piece for Plaid, and is supported by the taxpayer through the Welsh Government (WG), unlike The Eye.
He wrote underneath it: “It seems to me practically every TV programme produced by BBC Wales that requires an opinion on Wales (Welsh elections, Welsh Government policy, Welsh football) Laura McAllister is there. And now she’s off to Qatar to represent us. is there anything she can’t do?”.
Her appearance at a famous New Year’s race in Wales also provoked controversy, but on the BBC’s website it was stated blandly: “In 2023, McAllister became the first Welsh person to secure a place on Uefa’s executive committee and is also an academic and public policy professor at Cardiff University“.
However here too there are headlines which may be unwelcome.
Professor McAllister received support in her UEFA bid from the disgraced former newsreader Huw Edwards, who has flouted impartiality guidelines by publicly supporting the nationalist cause in Wales.
Mr Edwards stated on Twitter/X, initially ironically: “Obviously I’m impartial —- but GO LAURA” with a Welsh flag after the comment.
Yet perhaps she might not have wanted this kind of endorsement, because Mr Edwards was later named as the presenter who had been suspended for allegedly paying £35,000 to a teenager in exchange for sexually explicit images, and ‘mental health issues’ were raised about him by his wife (see story tomorrow).
Maybe other issues should also now be raised – such as why a major media organisation in Wales publicised a report saying independence was a “viable option”, without saying the report’s ‘co-author’ had stood as a candidate for Plaid in elections, her sister was a key figure in assembling the information, and proclaimed that the Proms made her “feel like a foreign tourist”…
The memories of our Editor, Welshman Phil Parry’s, remarkable decades long award-winning career in journalism (when the FULL background of individuals was always given) as he was gripped by the rare and incurable neurological disabling condition Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP), have been released in a major book ‘A GOOD STORY’. Order the book now!
Regrettably publication of another book, however, was refused, because it was to have included names.
Tomorrow – more worrying news about the corporation, with details of how Mr Edwards, who was honoured by the late Queen yet venerated by some Welsh nationalists, is “unfit to take part in talks about his future”, putting centre stage as they do the extraordinary details of what took place.