Getting Up Betsan's Nose

When the Electoral Commission decided last Wednesday that there should be no officially designated Yes and No campaigns, Yes For Wales Ltd, the only bidder for the Yes lead designation, put out a statement saying that despite the Commission's decision that the company would remain the official leader of the Yes campaign because it retained the support of all the other groups who had registered support for a Yes vote. Fair enough.

Yes for Wales Ltd also noted the fact that there isn't a similar umbrella group that unites those on the No side, again a fair comment.

Given that Yes campaigners have united around Yes For Wales Ltd and that No campaigners are disparate the Company's statement also contained an opinion that broadcasters should reflect this reality saying that as there is no recognised lead for the 'No' campaign, no single group should be treated with any sort of priority over other fringe parties campaigning for a No vote. In other words Mark Beech from the Monster Raving Loonies and myself should be treated as the True Wales no campaigns' equals.

This statement appears to have got up the nose of BBC Wales' political editor Betsan Powys. How dare Yes for Wales interfere with the BBC's editorial judgement! On Dragon's Eye on Thursday on her blog today she says "We'll decide who to interview based - not on whether they've sent an envelope to the Electoral Commission - but after considering things like whether a group, or individual, has a demonstrable track record of campaigning on the issue, have campaigning capacity and whether they represent that side of the debate to the greatest extent. In other words you try to use editorial judgement when you decide who to interview and how often."

I totally agree with Betsan the BBC and other broadcasters must show fair editorial judgement in deciding who to interview and how often, to do otherwise would be unacceptable especially from a public service broadcaster. But I'm not quite sure that the BBC is showing fair editorial judgement. When Betsan goes on to describe who the BBC is likely to interview from the No side she explains that we will be "hearing from all sorts of voices from within True Wales".

Mark Beech and I might just have "sent an envelope" to the Electoral Commission in Ms Powys' haughty view, but in sending those envelopes we have shown that concerns about the GOW Act referendum are wider than just those expresses by voices within True Wales. As Yes For Wales Ltd says any fair editorial judgement should ensure that those wider concerns are heard.


  1. Both yourself and Sir Eric Howells have probably got more followers across Wales than "True Wales" (that is more than 5). Clearly you should be given a fair share of the BBC's "No" campaign airtime.

    The important point for me is that whatever is left of the "No" campaign gets to speak for itself on the BBC and that its disparate arguments are not distilled, paraphrased, polished and given a thin veneer of coherence, respectability and credibility by Betsan Powys, Vaughan etc.

    This is especially the case as far as Radio Cymru, Newyddion, and CF99 is concerned. If you and / or Sir Eric are the only Welsh-speaking "No" spokespeople, your voices should be heard.

  2. If there is no official No campaign then there are no official no spokesperson. You can't have a General Election where members of Plaid, Tory, Labour etc give statements and then interview someone, anyone, who holds a different view but do not represent anyone and have no written support.

    The BBC will probably prop up the no campaign again as they did in 1997, where every press statement by the Yes campaign was automatically given over to some nuckle dragger to give the contrary view even though there wasn't a No campaign.

  3. This is just like the BBC coverage of S4C: spin, spin and spin again

  4. you should assert your right to be heard Alwyn. I look forward to seeing you on Dragons Eye. THAT is the meaning of democracy. It is not for the EBC to pigeonhole or try to steer the debate. I pay extortionate licence fees for the full picture. That includes The Blackwood Raving Looney Bunch as well as the Monster Raving Looney Party.
    Ti'n Dallt Betsan? - Dwi'n talu dy gyflog di dim y ffordd arall rownd

  5. Quite frankly I believe that because True Wales are not much of an opposition. Betsan Powys and the BBC have decided to take on part of that role.

  6. The BBC are locked in to the same rules that the Electoral Commission are, and the false idea that there are two equal sides.

    If we're talking about editorial judgement why don't BBC journalists spend a few minutes looking at the True Wales website? Then maybe start asking questions about the obvious lies they are spreading in the public arena. They could put together a great programme and they could factor in everything from the Yes for Wales official sites and accounts and see whether they'd said as well.

    Journalists in Wales during an election campaign would tear apart a political party that claimed organ donation amounted to "the harvesting of body parts".

    They won't scrutinise or criticise True Wales at all and the people of Wales, those few that are interested, will assume there are two equal sides when that is not the reality.

    And I of course support BBC Wales and its political coverage. It's the best media source we have.

  7. On Good morning Wales this morning Betsan showed how displeased she was by Roger Lewis by allowing Rachel to interrupt constantly, but cutting Roger off immediately he started protesting at yet another True Wales lie. I have a feeling that poor Betsan has been 'got at' to make sure that True Wales have no cause for complaint.

  8. I fear that the only coherent "No" arguments are being presented by Betsan Powys. Let them speak for themselves.