Voting rights…

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‘The details of what is happening in this election are extraordinary!’

Reporting on elections has always been important for our Editor Phil Parry, during his 40 year journalistic career, and today a key one gets underway but is unlike any that he has covered – in Russia.

Earlier he described how he was assisted in breaking into the South Wales Echo office car when he was a cub reporter, recalled his early career as a journalist, the importance of experience in the job, and made clear that the ‘calls’ to emergency services as well as court cases are central to any media operation.

He has also explored how poorly paid most journalismis when trainee reporters had to live in squalid flats, the vital role of expenses, and about one of his most important stories on the now-scrapped 53 year-old BBC Wales TV Current Affairs series, Week In Week Out (WIWO), which won an award even after it was axed, long after his career really took off

Phil has explained too how crucial it is actually to speak to people, the virtue of speed as well as accuracy, why knowledge of ‘history’ is vital, how certain material was removed from TV Current Affairs programmes when secret cameras had to be used, and some of those he has interviewed.

He has disclosed as well why investigative journalism is needed now more than ever although others have different opinions, how the coronavirus (Covid-19) lockdown played havoc with media schedules, and the importance of the hugely lower average age of some political leaders compared with when he started reporting.

 

These MATTER!

Covering elections is vital for anyone in the media, but the one that has started today is very different – it is a sham.

Three days of voting begins today in Russia and millions will take part in the re-election of President Vladimir Putin, the country’s longest-serving dictator since Stalin.

‘Hello, Is that the election office? I’m the winner, got it?’

In a land where opposition politicians are dead, in prison or in exile, where speaking truth to power is a criminal offence and where a paranoid autocrat is happy to kill hundreds of thousands of his own people or his neighbours in order to assert and maintain his power, an election seems entirely unnecessary, a strange charade or a quaint anachronism.

With no viable alternative or proper scrutiny, Mr Putin is certain to get the result he wants. Russia’s only independent election-monitoring organisation, Golos, has been designated a “foreign agent” and its co-founder is in jail.

All of this is a long way from the General Elections (GE) I have covered (although mistakes were sometimes made), because they have generally been free, fair and transparent.

The first election I covered was the 1987 GE when I worked for Cambrian News Agency supplying stories for all the UK newspapers and broadcasters, as an extremely green 22 year old reporter.

Ron Davies won his Caerphilly seat easily

I was stationed in the Caerphilly count, and tasked with the responsibility of phoning the results back to my office, where they were then fed on to the wires.

This was the MP seat of the former Secretary of State for Wales Ron Davies, who was then a Labour opposition spokesman and a rising star, so that made it an important count.

Ron Davies with Tony Blair – both could celebrate their victories

Later when I was working for BBC Cymru Wales I presented the graphics coverage of the 2005 GE.

It was held on Thursday May 5, and Tony Blair, won a third consecutive victory, although they didn’t do so well in Wales.

There Labour lost ground, although they still won 29 of 40 constituencies and 42.7 per cent of the vote.

Peter Law ‘sensationally’ won…

In what the BBC described as a “sensational defeat” Labour lost Blaenau Gwent, its “safest seat in Wales” to Independent Peter Law.

Plaid Cymru (Plaid) also fell back losing Ceredigion (to the Liberal Democrats [LD]) and failing to regain Ynys Môn which they had narrowly lost to Labour in 2001.

Unfortunately the graphics system wasn’t working properly, so Plaid came up as a gain in Pontefract and when I reported this I used the immortal words: “That can’t be right”.

Vladimir Putin wants the public affirmation – but the result is in no doubt

This duly appeared as “The Top 10 Mistakes Of The Night” in The Independent.

But at least this is nothing like what is happening in Russia.

The result won’t be a mistake…

 

The memories of Phil’s extraordinary decades long award-winning career in journalism (including some of the political stories he has covered) as he was gripped by the rare neurological disabling condition Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP), have been released in a major book ‘A Good Story’. Order it now.

‘BUY MY BOOK!’

Another book, though, has not been published, because it was to have included names.