Tuesday, April 10, 2018
No place for any anti-Welsh bigotry
BERNADETTE HORTON takes Rod Liddle to task over his latest column which is insulting to the people of Wales
RIGHT-WING hack Rod Liddle decided to give his extreme personal views in the recent edition of the [Rupert Murdoch-owned] Sunday Times on the naming of the second bridge across the river Severn linking Wales with England.
The background to the story is that First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones and Tory PM Theresa May decided jointly to name the crossing as The Prince of Wales Bridge in honour of Prince Charles.
Many people in Wales are unsurprisingly annoyed and angry at this decision and feel the Welsh people should have been consulted and perhaps a choice of names submitted and a public majority vote made.
The days of people doffing their caps to royalty are long gone and it irks proud Welsh people the bridge is being named after the heir to the English throne when we could have named the bridge after the last real Welsh prince Owain Glyndwr or perhaps someone like the inspirational Aneurin Bevan, father of the NHS, or distinguished writer Dylan Thomas. Some people suggested Tom Jones and Shirley Bassey would be much higher on the list than Prince Charles.
Deciding to capitalise on the growing discontent and petitions being started in Wales to change the bridge’s name, Liddle wrote in the Sunday Times: “The Welsh, or some of them, are moaning that a motorway bridge linking their rain-sodden valleys with the First World is to be renamed The Prince of Wales bridge in honour of the venal, grasping, deranged (if Tom Bower’s new biography is accurate) heir to the throne.
“That Plaid Cymru woman who is always on Question Time, has been leading the protests. They would prefer it to be called something indecipherable like Ysgythysgymlnggwchgwch Bryggy.
“Let them have their way. So long as it allows people to get out of the place pronto, should we worry about what it’s called?”
Liddle is straight out of the 1970s Jim Davidson book of casual racism that died a death back in the era with good reason.
The Irish were always the topic of such jokes, as were the Scots and the Welsh, portrayed as “Paddies, Jocks and Taffs”.
Never the English. The 1970s were also a time of racist “humour” against black people, with comedians mocking the accents of Caribbeans.
But these too became tired and shoddy. Regionally, people from Birmingham have been portrayed as slow, people from Liverpool as thieves, people from the north-east as incoherent, people from London as wide boys.
But Liddle and his ilk of middle-class, middle-aged white men need to grow up and understand that this form of casual regional prejudice fuels an undercurrent of social media abuse that can then take the form of physical attacks out on the streets in 21st century Britain.
There is a moral duty not to print racist remarks in newspapers and the Sunday Times is culpable by allowing this diatribe to be printed.
We all know the sick and disgusting online remarks that spew forth from the likes of failed Apprentice applicant Katie Hopkins, who tries to shock simply in order to garner headlines.
But she crossed the line so far even the Daily Mail got rid of her as a columnist, as did The Sun.
Liddle crosses a few lines in his piece. His sexism is blatant, as he well knows the name of Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood but refers to her as “that Plaid Cymru woman” in order to belittle her in print.
Wood is a serving assembly member and leader of her party and should be referred to as such.
His allusion to Wales as some backward country behind the supposed First World country of England reeks of imperialism and a Little Englander attitude that is entrenched in the far-right political parties he probably admires.
Liddle obviously knows nothing about Wales, Welsh people or Welsh history and should refrain from public comment until he is better informed.
I contacted North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones about Liddle’s article and he is looking into it, alongside North Wales Police.
We have to report newspapers and their reporters who think casual racism towards a country and its people is OK because it quite frankly is not.
There are some warped idiots out there who see emblazoned headlines about Muslims, refugees and immigration and are acting out assaults, murders and hate crime because they are being psyched up to do so by our right-wing media.
Some people will laugh and say Liddle’s article isn’t casual racism but a light-hearted skit on Wales and the Welsh. Well, we don’t see it quite that way in Wales and think attacks in print by national newspapers should not go unpunished.
I sincerely hope the Sunday Times acts and issues a public apology for allowing this article to be printed and that Liddle apologises and makes an effort to learn there is no place for his casual racism in modern Britain.
Here in Wales the issue of the naming of the second bridge will not go away. Welsh people have a right to be part of a process to name such landmarks and, as online petitions are racking up large numbers of signatures, the hope is the bridge can be renamed.
In future when new buildings and structures are built, people should be fully included in the naming of them and not have some royalist name imposed upon us simply because our government’s leaders say so.