Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I don't do 'Wobbling'.

I was horrified tonight when it was suggested to me that I might be 'wobbling' about the way I intend to vote on an amendment to the Public Bodies Bill next Thursday morning. I've been considering carefully, but I do not do 'wobbling'. I'm still having serious trouble with my spine, but I've always prided myself on 'backbone'. I was offended to hear it suggested. If I ever decide to vote against my Government, the first to know will be the whips and the relevant ministers.

At issue is whether S4C should remain a part of Schedule 3 of the Public Bodies Bill. To some of you this will be double dutch - but what it amounts to is whether the UK Government (while S4C remains non devolved) should have any overall influence over the governance arrangements of the Welsh Language TV channel, S4C. Since I do believe that as far as possible, S4C should be operationally and editorially 'independent', I have had to think carefully about this issue - particularly since one of the Government MPs on the Committee examining the Bill has made clear that he is voting with the opposition. This means that the Government majority is reduced from 3 to just 1 - and because its known that the Welsh Language is hugely important to me, I have become something of a campaigner's target. In general, I believe in politicians being accountable, and in the end, I really cannot accept that even S4C should be totally without democratic accountability. I also think (and this is a touch provocative perhaps) that some of the poor governance we've seen over the last few years has been because there was so little external 'governance'.

I have received a huge amount of correspondence over this issue. Its been a good well organised campaign. Forced me to think through my position on it very thoroughly. But having decided where I stand on the issue, I'm feeling relaxed and certain in my stance - which is not to say that I will not be asking Ministers for some firm assurances on Thursday morning. Quite looking forwards to standing up without a 'wobble' in sight.


Simon Brooks said...

I still believe that the Welsh Conservative Party should really put the pressure on as regards this issue. Jeremy Hunt botched the whole issue back in October last year, and Welsh Tories need to organise an exit strategy. It is no point throwing S4C to the BBC in London for the service to be run down year by year. People will just say "the Tories destroyed S4C" everytime people argue that there can be a pro-Welsh centre right. There needs to be a sensible compromise solution.

Ffred Ffransis said...

The UK Government has always had influence over the governance of S4C - as shown by Jeremy Hunt's unilateral decisions over the channel's future without resorting to the democratic niceties of actually consulting anyone in Wales about his proposals. So it is rather disingenuous to suggest that S4C needs to be included in Schedule 3 of the Public Bodies Bill so as to afford the UK Government any influence. This would give the Government the influence of a sledgehammer !
Glyn is an independent-minded enough MP to be willing to further consider representations on this issue and still remain "relaxed" !

Hedd Gwynfor said...

Glyn, I have read your blog, and I appreciate that the Welsh language is hugely important to you, but surely the views of the people of Wales should be of more importance to you than some ‘senior politician’ calling names? I believe that you are incorrect re. S4C and the Public Bodies Bill. I believe that the clauses concerning S4C must be removed from the Bill for the following reasons:

* Tens of thousands of people throughout Wales have expressed their opposition to the government's plans by signing petitions, attending rallies and meetings, emailing their MP, including the Archbishop of Wales, numerous Welsh organisations and Trade Unions.

* Decisions on the future of S4C should follow a full review of the channel, as requested by the leaders of the parties in Wales (including the Conservative party!!), instead of being rushed through as at present.

* If the clauses dealing with S4C are not removed from the Public Bodies Bill, and if the responsibility for S4C is transferred to the BBC the only Welsh language TV channel in the world will lose 40% of its funding, its independence and there will be no guarantee of any funding for the channel after 2015. It will, therefore, be impossible to plan for the future of Welsh language broadcasting.

* When S4C was first established, it was protected by legislation from political interference for a VERY good reason. With the passing of the Public Bodies Bill, it will have lost that protection, and this is totally unacceptable.

* The demise of the Channel could lead to serious linguistic tensions in Wales. The establishment of the Channel did a great deal to ease these tensions in the first place.

* The severe proposed cuts in funding will make it practically impossible for a quality Welsh language service to survive.

* The government by signing the European Charter promised to safeguard Welsh language broadcasting. By going back on their word, they are breaking international law.

* The Welsh Affairs Committee and the Culture Committee have both opposed the government's plans for S4C. Their views should be respected.

I am not aware that there is any real support for these plans in Wales. Please therefore acknowledge this unity and strength of feeling by reconsidering your position and support the amendment to remove the clauses concerning S4C from the bill.

Gareth Jamie Bevan said...

Annwyl Glyn, thank you again for meeting us (Dysgwyr Dros S4C) in Lodon yesterday.
Allthough you say that your vote is the same as everyother MPs on the committee it is true that you have a greater understanding of the needs of people in Wales and therefore of the significance and importance of S4C. No one yet, within the government, has been able to give a good answer as to why the Public Bodies Bill is not suitable for one broadcaster (Channel 4) and yet it is ok to include another (S4C). Where is the sense in this? You told us yesterday (and i believe you) that you would be asking numerous difficult questions of your government including the Channel 4/S4C one. We would be interested in the replies you recieved.
Of course to vote against your party, as you said yesterday, would have consequences for you personally. But to vote in favour of these ill thought out plans for S4C would have national consequences. At this time we need people who are prepared to lead us and break away from what protocol demands of them, especially when they themselves know that the proposed plans are unjust and unfair. I have no doubt that you have, as you say, plenty of backbone, enough to withstand pressure from either side of the debate. Your vote will make a difference. Should the committee decide to remove S4C from the bill it would not simply be a matter of 'They'll go ahead with it in the end anyway', as you mentioned in our brief meeting. It would most definitely send a strong message to the government and bring us one big step closer to attaining real independence and sufficient funding, and thus a real, longterm future, for our only Welsh language channel.
To finish, i implore you not to let the efforts of those thousands of people who campaigned for the channel originally to go to waste. Do not let the efforts of those thousands of people who are campaigning now go to waste. I understand you have had hundreds of messages regarding S4C over the past few days. Please ponder over them as you prepare to vote tomorrow,
diolch yn fawr
Jamie Bevan