Cambrian News in ‘Candidate’ Slur

As a resident of Aber I have been absolutely appalled by this week’s front page of the Cambrian News. Yes, it has always been famed for its sub-standard journalism but this one really takes the prize for most utterly ridiculous headline ever.

Let’s recap on exactly what has happened:

In 2001 a young, English travel writer called Mike Parker came to mid Wales and met some people who lived here. In an article he wrote he said that there was a “sprinkling” of people who had moved over to rural mid Wales from England in order to avoid the multiculturalism which had grown in their native cities – he called them out for their racism. Mike Parker called out the small amount of racists who had moved to the area and his article was enjoyed by the few who read it. No problems occurred, as you might expect from an anti-BNP article.

Fast forward to today and our joke of a local paper decides that standing up to racism is a ‘Nazi slur’. Bear in mind that the word “Nazi” never appeared in the original article. If you actually read the original article you will find no resemblance with the headline that the Cambrian News have embarrassingly spouted today.

This article is a tricky one for me to write because while I feel passionately that what the Cambrian News has done today is despicable, I don’t want to appear biased towards one party.

I, and so many others in Aber, have the following problems with what the Cambrian News has done.

  • The headline itself – It varies throughout the county, but this is the collection,
    • “Incomers are ‘Nazis’, says would-be MP”
    • “Plaid candidate says incomers are ‘Nazis'”
    • “Candidate compares incomers to Nazis”
    • “Plaid election hopeful defends ‘Nazi’ slur”

Now if I were to run through every single problem with these headlines I would be here until after the election so I will keep this brief. The headline suggests that Mike Parker called incomers Nazis, when in fact he never said the word Nazi and said that only a “sprinkling” of incomers from England were racist. The second problem I have is the use of the present tense, “says”. The article from Mike Parker was written 11 years ago. The use of the present tense suggests that the comments (which of course are different from what the Cambrian News reported) were made very recently. The accusation is wrong and is completely out of date. In three of the four headlines the word ‘Nazi’ is put in quotation marks, suggesting that they are a direct quote. When you read the original article and fail to find the word ‘Nazi’ in there at all I’m sure you’ll agree that this is a very shady bit of work from the headline writer. My final big problem with the headlines is the use of the phrase “Nazi slur”. They are suggesting that the candidate made a Nazi slur and is defending that remark. A Nazi slur is defined as “a remark made with the intent of causing offence or demeaning those of one of the races, religions or cultures who were and continue to be targeted by Nazis”. What Mike Parker actually did was attack racism. He was doing the absolute opposite of what is being suggested here.

  • The second problem is the time of release

Why is it only now that they are reporting this? There is clearly an agenda at play. Mike Parker has been a local writer for over a decade and if the Cambrian News had had a problem with it then they could have reported it at any time. I would venture that they are either facing a massive reduction in readership (in which case they have made an enormous error by alienating every Plaid voter and many others like me.) Or, and perhaps more likely, they have a significant desire to see someone other than Mike Parker win in May. I cherish the freedom of the press we have here in Wales, without it I couldn’t write this article, but I am extremely worried about the fact that our one and only local paper seems to be backing a particular party. If our entire local press is backing one party then do we truly live in a democracy here in Aber?

I realise at this point that this article is quite a long one. Therefore I will be brief in what I have left to say.

  • The final issue I want to raise is perhaps the most worrying of all. I, like many others in Aber, know that the Cambrian News is not blessed with the most energetic journalists.

I can not for one second believe that the Cambrian News have looked through every article ever written by Mike Parker. Bear in mind that he is a writer, that is what he does for a living so there would be countless articles to trawl through. There is just no way that the Cambrian News have found this themselves. Somebody else has given them this story and I can certainly guess who. I am doing my best to remain impartial here. As I’ve said this is not a pro-Plaid article but a scrutiny of the Cambrian News. However, I can tell you quite happily that I will not be supporting the Lib Dems. I am not saying that Mark Williams or his office leaked this story to the Cambrian News, I wouldn’t want to get done for libel of course (I’ll leave that to the Cambrian News) but someone must have. Who has the most to gain?

Finally I must say that I’m disappointed at all of the other candidates who have jumped on the bandwagon without checking their facts. It is unfortunate but, perhaps with the Cambrian News being so definite in their assertion about a ‘Nazi Slur’, it was unavoidable that the other candidates would be swept up in the hype and hysteria.

This election just got dirty and the Cambrian News have their hands caked in mud. To anyone who buys it next week will you please tell me how full the letters’ page is with complaints? I think I’ll skip it for a while.

25 thoughts on “Cambrian News in ‘Candidate’ Slur

  1. In truth, no section of the community is immune from racism, and challenging it wherever it arises is the duty of everyone. However, as a ‘multicultural’ family moving (back) to Aber from proudly and successfully multicultural Leicester, I can say we have never encountered a hint of the phenomenon described in Mike Parker’s original article. The problem is, whole communities can become stereotyped so easily, and a ‘them and us’ attitude is all too easily stirred up. Having said that, local papers love aping the national tabloids…and bias in newspapers is something those of us on the left have got used to…

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  2. I’ve tried via Twitter encouraging Mike Parker and Planet magazine to share the original article. One Twitter user has already posted a photo of what he calls ‘the pertinent section’ . That clearly shows the comments which have sparked this row follow Parker’s criticism of BNP leader Nick Griffin’s attempts to integrate himself and his ideas into the community in Montgomeryshire. Also that Parker was saying racist attitudes should be tackled.
    Does Jac care to expand on who he thinks researched Planet’s back copies? Parker has posted a statement on his Facebook page and underneath the Powys councillor from Montgomeryshire, Myfanwy Alexander, comments she believes its muck spreading ‘from the same people’ circulating scare stories about the health of the Tory MP in the constituency which the Lib Dems are desperate to regain. To be clear I’m not making any suggestion about who is behind any of the stories.

    Also I think some of the comments in the post here about the Cambrian News are unfair . Last month it was named Welsh weekly newspaper of the year.

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    1. My guess would be MI5. For this is not really about Mike Parker or Ceredigion, this is about saving the UK from a bloc of SNP, Plaid Cymru and Green MPs. Limiting the size of that bloc by denying Plaid Cymru Ceredigion would be judged a perfectly legitimate operation for the agency entrusted with internal security.

      Then again, it might be the work of the British army’s new 77th Brigade, the ‘Facebook Warriors’. http://j.mp/1Nriuzo It’s quite amazing, but revelatory, that in this time of ongoing defence cuts the UK government can spend money on what is, effectively, a black propaganda machine.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve seen no evidence that the author of the Cambrian News piece has even read the original Planet article. The story, such as it is, has been recycled from press reports from between 2001 and 2003, all available online. The Daily Telegraph has even covered this story today (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/plaid-cymru/11522401/Plaid-Cymru-candidate-compares-the-English-to-Nazis.html), in effect quoting their own account of the same event back in September 2001 (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1340095/English-travel-writer-raises-hackles-in-Wales.html), but now through the prism of Cambrian News. They’re having an especially good election campaign, aren’t they?

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  4. The story was then picked up by the BBC who republished this lie/smear:

    No apology from candidate in Nazi slur row
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election-2015-wales-32226112

    Again, ‘Nazi’ was never used by Mike Parker back in 2001.

    The story was then picked up by Sky and The Telegraph and taken to a whole new level saying that he called all English ‘Nazis’. He has never used the term to refer to the English (living in England, Wales or anywhere else). The headlines are totally misleading and disgraceful:

    Plaid Cymru candidate compares the English to ‘Nazis’
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/plaid-cymru/11522401/Plaid-Cymru-candidate-compares-the-English-to-Nazis.html

    Would-Be Welsh MP Compares English To Nazis
    http://news.sky.com/story/1461148/would-be-welsh-mp-compares-english-to-nazis

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  5. Maurice, I agree, there is a danger of creating ‘us and them’ which is why this article is 14 years old.

    That is, Mike Parker hasn’t made this an issue, the Cambrian News has by reviving and giving a discraceful heading to a 14 year old article.

    Mike is a professional writer who’s probably published around 250,000 words in his career, some of which are meant to be challenging or close to the bone. Should we also see what jokes he said on the stan up circuit before coming into politics?

    Let’s also remember in the month or so before publishing the article in 2001 there was a BNP ‘festival’ held in Llanerfyl which the police and Labour were opposed to. There was a heated debate at the time which may explain the language used. Mike, also wasn’t a Plaid member, or spoke Welsh or had any political ambition or calcukation. He was a writer who’d fought to have the iconic ‘Rough Guide’ publish an edition on Wales (they initially wanted to lump Wales with England) and he had recently moved to rural Wales. The public can’t complain of ‘career’ or ‘bland’ politicians but then complain when someone who hasn’t spent their whole career calculating ever word coukd be malignly edited as they decide to stand for election.

    Mauruce, I agree there is no big racism problem here (though being white I wouldn’t be best placed to say). But let’s not pretend there wasn’t a small element of feeling of ‘unease’ shall we say by a section of society with multi culturalism and by some against the Welsh language. That’s just to recognise reality as there is probably still homoohobia too. Mike didn’t make this an election issue.

    Jac, let’s not talk of conspiracies. There’s an election on, someone, CN or one of the other parties have gone on google or, knowing Mike is an author who’s written extensively, has trawled through his archive. They’ve then given a discraceful heading to it, of the type, “man denies rape charge’.

    Personally, speaking as a Welsh speaker, I’d be proud to have a gay, Englishman from Kidderminster who’s been respectful enough to learn Welsh (for no calculated career of political gain) as my MP. I’d prefere to have an MP who’s against renewing Trident and an austerity budget which has hit this area hard, than an MP who’s a career politician or just talk in platitudes whilst voting for cuts and foodbanks.

    There’s also now a question over the future of the Cambrian News. There won’t be a big boycott but a lot of people will feel very uneasy about supporting it. That’s a pity, because a place like Ceredigion needs a newspaper as a meeting point.

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    1. What Mike Parker said in 2001 was that a minority of the English moving to Wales are of the ‘White Flight’ variety. Which is absolutely true. This should have been Parker’s and Plaid Cymru’s defence. But this would have meant raising a taboo subject that Plaid Cymru has no wish to discuss.

      As for my conspiracy theory, what do you think MI5 does – help old ladies across the street? A lot of people have been trying to point the finger at the Lib Dems but, personally, I don’t think they’re capable of it; but there are many shadowy figures wanting another Tory – Lib Dem (possibly DUP) coalition after May 7th.

      The Cambrian News does not deserve to survive, and that was true before this incident, so I’m disappointed to read you bemoaning what you seem to consider a one-off error of judgement. What Ceredigion needs is a replacement for the Cambrian News, along the lines of what is happening in Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire.

      Seeing as Mike Parker never used the term ‘Nazi’ will he or Plaid Cymru be taking legal action against the Cambrian News, the BBC and other outlets that quoted him as using that word?

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  6. The Aberystwyth Voice article is written in the first person and includes personal opinions. All of which is fine and dandy so long as we know who wrote it. I couldn’t see anyone’s name at the start or end of the article. Did I miss it or was it an omission? If the latter, it’s a bit unfortunate in an article criticising someone else’s journalism.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi there Nicholas. This article was written by an anonymous author at Aberystwyth Voice. Anonymity is maintained here to allow people to write what they really feel without fear of persecution. I believe that it is the content of articles that matter, not the name of the journalists.

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  7. If Mike Parker dos say that some English incomers were “gun-toting Final Solution crackpots” then he was indeed describing them as Nazis.

    The Final Solution was the name for the most extreme of all Nazi policies – genocide.

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    1. Only a fool would believe that Mike Parker described English people moving to rural Wales as “gun-toting Final Solution crackpots”, and only a truly devious individual would pretend to believe that’s what he said.

      With that remark he was referring to those who join anti-federal government militias in the USA; those who seek out remote areas, free of ethnic minorities, where they can return to a vanished America. A stretched comparison perhaps, but with the references to guns and Holocaust removed, seeking out rural areas free of ethnic minorities rings a big ding-dong.

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  8. So, what was essentially an article by an English author highlighting racism and prejudice which is portrayed as the author is racist and prejudiced!

    We then have Alistair Campbell and Labour party members – not content with sexing up dossiers which have lead to the death of hundreds of thousands of people and £ billions spent by UK taxpayers, now ‘sexing up’ an unfounded slur.

    We then have headlines along the line of ‘Fred Blogs denies raping woman’ which perpetuates the lie.

    And then BBC, ITV, Sky reports on the accusation.

    This is a common threat in ‘reporting’ Wales.

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  9. The whole Cambrian News title is disgraceful and shows the low standard of journalism at that paper. What is even worse is the ragtag politicians who have followed its lead and made calculated comments about a candidate opposed to them. If they bothered to read the article it is obvious that Mike Parker is confronting a racism that is prevalent in rural Wales as shown by the number of National Front supporters living here. As someone who has lived and worked in rural Wales all his life there is no doubt that a small percentage of incomers do hold these racist views and have moved here from cities over the border to get away from what they see as an invasion by people of other cultures. People – open your eyes and look around you!!! These people are here in our midst and hiding your head in the sand and shooting the messenger will not make the problem disappear.

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  10. Phil, you are undoubtedly right, but racist attitudes can also exist among rural folk who haven’t moved anywhere. Some research shows that racism is more prevalent in ‘mono-cultural’ environments than in the cities where various diverse communities rub shoulders and get to know each other. I am disturbed that this Mike Parker row has been conflated with a pro- or anti- Plaid Cymru discussion. I for one tend to associate ALL nationalisms (even those that purport to be progressive) with ‘them and us’ attitudes, so would not support PC for that reason. The ‘dirty tricks’ attack on Mike (or on any other democratic politician) is despicable, and I have always actively supported challenging racists, and would do so alongside Mike. I do NOT think, however, that being anti-Plaid Cymru is being anti Welsh!
    PS: I don’t think articles should be anonymous…

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    1. You have quite a talent for the woolly and the ambiguous. For example, “Some research shows . . . “. How about a link? Though if you’re right about mono-cultural environments being more racist then this obviously explains why US cities have never known race riots. Why Arabs and Jews “rub shoulders” just fine. Though come to think of it, how is it possible to judge levels of racism in societies where everybody’s the same?

      You are “disturbed that this Mike Parker row has been conflated with a pro- or anti- Plaid Cymru discussion”! What do you think “this Mike Parker row” is all about? Are you unaware there’s an election on May 7th?

      If you’re opposed to “ALL” nationalisms does this extend to Gandhi, Mandela the Dalai Lama and so many others most would regard as fighters against colonialism, discrimination or oppression. Come to that, just about every country in the world is the creation of nationalism, so how would you order human society globally?

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  11. http://oclmenai.blogspot.com/

    Have a look at Blog Menai. The posts show Huw Thomas, Labour candidate for Ceredigion, advocating criminal damage against cars showing the English flag. Light hearted, perhaps, but worthy of note due to Thomas’ appalling behavior during this affair.

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  12. Can we read anything into the fact that of the ‘main party’ opponents to Mike Parker only the LibDem candidate has not been quoted in response to the article?

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