A ‘news’ website, whose ‘Editor’ has urged people to vote Plaid Cymru (PC), claiming it is “A news service by the people of Wales, for the people of Wales” and is backed by taxpayers’ money, ‘reported’ contentiously “Support for Welsh independence has risen again”, it has emerged.
This disturbing ‘information’ is based on the fact that a St. David’s Day poll this year put the numbers at 11 per cent, whereas last year it was seven per cent.
One of the comments on Nation.Cymru reads: “Welsh National Party will move things along, too. Things looking decidedly warm for reactionaries”.
Yet there are other ways to look at figures showing that “Support for Welsh independence has risen again”.
In 2019 another poll found that around 30 per cent of people appeared to support independence, but last month a different survey put the numbers backing it had slumped to just 21 per cent of those surveyed with 56 per cent against, and 12 per cent saying they didn’t know.
The ‘don’t knows’ are usually divided equally, and that would put those opposed to Welsh independence at 62 per cent.
The numbers wanting independence come from a population in Wales of about three million, and you will see them squeezed even further during any independence referendum campaign.
Even so the aims of Nation.Cymru are clearly to promote independence.
In an ‘opinion piece’ on the website headlined: “Why Wales should have the power to make St David’s day a national holiday” the case was put strongly for Welsh independence.
It said: “We’re not allowed to have a bank holiday for St David’s Day because Westminster deems it so.
“This is just one of a litany of indignities inflicted by the Westminster elite on Wales, and it may seem like a relatively trivial one.”
It is clear, meanwhile, that the ‘Editor’ of Nation.Cymru himself, Ifan Morgan Jones, is too firmly behind Welsh independence, as well as a supporter of PC.
He is also a lecturer in ‘journalism’ at Bangor University’s Department of Creative Studies and Media, on a course which is not accredited by the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ), and as such will presumably know that neutrality is an important part of journalism.
This should also be a fundamental tenet for a website that claims it is ‘a news service for the people of Wales‘, and is backed by public money, because as Mr Jones will be aware, reflecting all shades of public opinion is vital for a journalist.
In the 2016 Welsh Assembly elections PC secured 12 seats, one more than the Tories and 17 fewer than Labour (the party in power in Wales) – both of which are opposed to independence.
In the General Election of 2019 PC gained 9.9 per cent of the popular vote, with the Tories on 36.1 per cent and Labour on 40.9 per cent.
Despite this, Dr Jones published on Facebook last December a picture of a postal ballot paper with his pen pointing at the PC candidate, and has posted a photograph of himself and his partner above the slogan “I’m voting Plaid Cymru”.
In July 2016 he helped further a rally for Welsh independence in Caernarfon and said that Wales: “faced being part of a state which (is) being politically neglected”.
Last September an opinion piece was published in which he said: “In an independent Wales, the future of our nation wouldn’t be decided by politicians completely removed from our concerns, like gods playing dice with our fate on the summit of Mount Olympus”.
Apparently oblivious to the fact that Dr Jones’ website effectively represents all views not just those of PC (because everyone pays for Nation.Cymru through their taxes) he says plainly on his site: “Much of the current money we do have to spend is due to support through the kindness of the Welsh Books Council.
“But such public money is thin on the ground, and ideally, no news site should be dependent on grants that, in the current financial climate, may not last forever.”
On Friday Nation.Cymru published the assessment of its funder, the Books Council of Wales (BCW).
It ‘reported’: “The Chief Executive of the Books Council of Wales, Helgard Krause said: ‘We are very grateful to the Welsh Government for supporting our exciting plans to upgrade our IT systems, ensuring we continue to compete with the publishing industry across the UK and beyond'”.
It is clear too that the BCW, which funds what appears to be a politically partisan ‘news’ site, enjoys strong political support.
The Welsh Government (WG) announced £750,000 of additional funding for the BCW to invest in a new digital system to manage the sale, supply and distribution of books.
The BCW will also receive additional capital funding of £145,000 during the current financial year.
The Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism (formerly a leading figure in PC), Dafydd Elis-Thomas, said that he was “delighted” to support the BCW to invest in this sector of the Welsh economy.
“This will be a significant boost to the Books Council of Wales but also the whole publishing industry in Wales,” he said.
The BCW distributes grants to publishers, and supports a number of print as well as online publications such as Click on Wales, the Welsh Agenda, Planet, New Welsh Review, Poetry Wales, and Wales Arts Review, in addition to Nation.Cymru.
But Nation.Cymru is searching for more funding than just public money, and has not been without controversy.
In the comments section below one article, it published the views of a right wing blogger who has in the past posted a picture of paramilitary group leader Cayo Evans holding a gun.
Royston Jones, who lauds his time in the Free Wales Army (FWA) in the 1960s, described on Nation.Cymru ‘elderly people’ coming to Wales as “incomers” who are taking up too many places in Welsh care homes, and that the situation is “absurd”.
Yet these contentious published views may enrage many ‘elderly people’ from England now in Wales.
Mr Jones was a founding member of Ein Gwlad (EG, Our Land) which became Gwlad, Gwlad (GG, Land, Land), and fielded a number of candidates in the General Election last December who all lost their deposits.
Royston Jones wrote on Nation.Cymru: “Let’s be brutally honest. For too long elderly people moving from England to Wales has been viewed as a growth industry by the ‘Welsh Government’, local authorities, and of course the owners and providers of care homes.
“This is an absurd and self-defeating ‘economy’ when all the negatives are taken into account. So why is it encouraged?”.
However people might also ask why a ‘news’ site supposedly serving all ‘the people of Wales’, and supported by public money, is at the same time ‘encouraging’ Welsh independence by ‘reporting’ a poll showing that 11 per cent of people support it when other surveys show the numbers plunging…
Soon – how a story about PC showing that electoral rules had been broken was suppressed by Nation.Cymru, while another concerning a party opposed to independence was seized on, and what our satirical writer Edwin Phillips makes of a ‘report’ that support for Welsh independence “has risen again” when it is at 11 per cent.
Our Editor Phil Parry’s memories of his extraordinary 36-year award-winning career in journalism as he was gripped by the incurable disabling condition Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP), have been released in a major new book ‘A GOOD STORY’. Order the book now! The picture doubles as a cut-and-paste poster!