Honesty, Plaid and Y Byd

There’s something to be said for politicians being honest about the promises they will deliver when they get elected.

Plaid’s loss of control of Gwynedd County Council – over the closure of some of the primary schools with which the county is over-provisioned for the number of children born – may soon link up with another issue with which Plaid Cymru has historically been associated.

That is the Welsh language – and in particular the election promise which everyone understood would lead to the launch of a daily newspaper in that language. The issue of the schools and Y Byd (the putative name of the paper, which pushed the issue into the political limelight) are not really linked; but they are close enough to raise issues about the honesty of politicians.

We can leave the schools issue to Gwynedd’s newly-elected councillors and talks between Plaid (minus their group leader Richard Parry Hughes and councillor-cum-national president Dafydd Iwan) and Llais Gwynedd, odds-and-sods Independents, Labour and the Lib Labs. I am pretty sure the issue is not as clear cut as a quick glance at the election results would seem to indicate.

But the issue of Y Byd (shorthand for a daily paper, whoever starts it) is likely to run and run. Not in the public bar, perhaps, but in the more important bar of public opinion.

When I wrote in the last Cambria, I used the information to hand at the time. Some of that ‘gen was not quite correct. The small-sized extra grant for publications had been decided long enough ago for it to have been inserted in the budget – at £200,000-a-year, one third of that necessary.

On the face of it, Labour objectors were not to blame for the small figure. The not-insubstantial figure of Huw Lewis (Merthyr and Rhymney AM) would not have objected too much to even £1m (although he possessed doubts on other grounds).

Early in the autumn, senior Plaid figures discussed and agreed a civil service paper on the suitably-vague issue of Welsh-language publications mentioning the £200,000 figure.

I don’t know why the figure was so small (did Labour somehow force it that low ?). Neither why Plaid accepted the figure (were the individuals in that meeting unaware of how much was really needed ?).

Perhaps I will write more in the next Cambria.

My feeling that the issue will run comes from the editorial in the two-monthly magazine Planet. Some will say that Ned Thomas, the leader of the Byd, had too much influence in that leader (he was Planet’s founder).

But the editorial’s careful wording fits far too much with some ugly anti-comments on the Byd project by two party leaders at Plaid’s spring conference in Newport to be allowed to pass.

Planet talks of “enmities within parties”. The editor also ridicules Adam Price, MP, one of Plaid’s most sensible voices, for his over-espousal of the internet. Newspapers, some more than others (the Llandudno Daily Post is apparently doing pretty well) are suffering circulation-wise. Some web-nuts believe the last edition of a United States daily will on current trends be published in 2044 (unfortunately, I’m unlikely to be around to have the last laugh).

More important is whether politicians’ promises are to be believed. As I wrote last month, I don’t think this would have happened if Plaid had joined the rainbow coalition…

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3 thoughts on “Honesty, Plaid and Y Byd

  1. Is Y Byd dead? It’s among those who’ve tried for the 200k grant so it seems a bit premature to berate the Assembly for killing it off. If 600k was enough for a daily, then presumably 200k is enough for a weekly or weekend paper (at least).

    The sour grapes comments from Ned Thomas that I’ve seen suggest that he hasn’t taken on board the fact that the world has changed since Y Byd was launched in 2002. Many more of us have got broadband now and every newspaper in Wales is suffering serious circulation problems as serious news seekers migrate to the net. Y Byd was aimed at precisely this group.

  2. The £200,000 grant is derisory for any kind of start up for a news organisation – who’s to say you actually need less for an online newspaper – the only saving is print and distribution which is usually covered by ads that you don’t get online.
    And I don’t share the notion that printed newspapers are dead. It would have been better if Y Byd had been more ambitious in its aims: at a minimum there should be a nationwide free delivery, five days a week to every school, educational institution, and to every councillor – oh and AM’s bless them.
    The only self-called national newspaper in Wales (the Western Mail that doesn’t have much about Wales in its title does it?) relies for its very existence on huge public subsidy through exorbitant rates for large public sector recruitment and statutory adverts.

  3. Beware the newest kid on the block – he might not be worth as much as he thinks he is. So with the web for information-gathering. I’m currently trying to impose order on last week’s election results so I can write about them. The Cardiff press has all but abandoned ward results and the statistical compilations based on them. Torfaen was one of Wales’s most interesting results. But the council site is a disaster – each ward has to be accessed separately for the results; but party affiliations can only be found by accessing the nominations, again on a ward basis. Why doesn’t someone invent something called a newspaper so they can be easily collated ?

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