Writers at risk of entering politics

Jasmine Donahaye says recent events will put writers off standing to be politicians.

In Wales there is a very small pool of people who have the interest or the wherewithal to enter politics. To many of us outside the political world, it looks daunting, and though we question the qualifications and quality of everyone who might seek to represent us, not very many of us consider that our own qualifications, qualities and experience might make us viable candidates. We stand back, we watch from the sidelines, we complain and groan and roll our eyes in disbelief at what we judge to be politicians’ stupidity or inconsistency, their insincerity or immorality – but though we might change how we vote, and those of us who are authors might write critically about what we see, we do not decide to challenge that stupidity or immorality or ignorance by standing for election ourselves.

Recently, for the second time, I was informally sounded out about standing as a candidate in the next council election. I laughed it off, but after some urging I began to seriously consider it. That is until the Cambrian News, in a tawdry tabloid journalism move, attempted to smear Mike Parker, Plaid Cymru’s Westminster candidate for Ceredigion.

Mike Parker, like me, is a writer, though a much more prominent and successful one. Like me, like many, writers and non-writers alike, he was angry about the state of government, and the predicament of Wales, but rather than go on complaining, he took the risk of trying to do something different about it. He’s paid a nasty price for his convictions. Fourteen years ago, he wrote an article for Planet about racist attitudes among some English residents of rural mid-Wales, which the Cambrian News, in a patent political move, has utterly misrepresented. Apart from the main focus on the BNP, whose leader had moved to Powys, Parker compared the attitudes of some people who had, by their own admission, ‘fled’ to rural Wales, with  the attitudes of libertarians and ‘gun-toting Final Solution crackpots’ of the American wilderness retreat. I read the article at the time it was published, and found it closely mirrored my own experience in Ceredigion – including the attitudes I encountered of some English people towards the Welsh and to the Welsh language.

The Cambrian News misrepresented Parker, not least by attributing to him – by quotation marks in the headline – an epithet he never used, and by quoting from the 2001 article so selectively and with such serious omissions that it completely skewed what he had originally written. That was picked up by the national media and prominent politicians – as, one might safely infer, was intended. Not reading the original article, they have reinforced the misrepresentation on social media, and in discussion by political commentators in broadcast media and in the press, the misattribution of the epithet of ‘Nazi’ and reference to the ‘Final Solution’ has been reiterated without reference to the context. Had they included what the Cambrian News omitted of the surrounding text, it would have been quite clear that the reference to ‘Final Solution crackpots’ was an unquestionably accurate designation of a certain strand of extreme American libertarianism.

I support Mike Parker as a parliamentary candidate: in my view he is a principled, thoughtful, intelligent and careful (and witty) man. But I also value him as a writer, and I am appalled – though not surprised – by what the Cambrian News has done, and how, one after another, the broadcast, online and print media have failed to correct the basic misrepresentation.

To be misrepresented as a person and a writer is horribly painful: how, for example, to respond to inaccuracies in a review of your work is a perennial problem for anyone who is regularly published. But to have to respond as a political candidate to something you did fourteen years earlier as a writer requires, in many ways, betraying your commitment to your own writing, and that is perhaps the most painful thing of all. You do not have the luxury of talking about nuance or context, or assuming largely who your audience is. You cannot qualify or explain or comment on your own past work – you cannot say unequivocally, once they’ve been quoted out of context or misquoted, that you stand by your words. Nor can you ask the public to read what you wrote instead of relying on what someone else has written about what you wrote.

Last autumn I was similarly appalled by the serious misrepresentation of a writer’s work, repeatedly, which went uncorrected. That book was also misrepresented in ways that were patently political. Calling out the person responsible for that misrepresentation exposed me to something about which, in my naivety, I had known nothing – the shocking bullying power of certain political forces in Wales. The whole experience enraged me. That rage has not diminished since. It was that anger in part that made me consider seriously, like Mike Parker, not relying just on my writing to engage politically, but putting myself forward as a possible candidate.

Not so now. I am certain that there are people from all kinds of backgrounds who, seeing someone slurred in this way, will turn away from the possibility of entering politics. But there are particular concerns for a writer. You take certain risks as a writer. You try to present yourself, your views and the results of your research honestly. Indeed fudging things usually creates poor writing. I have written about things which, in context, I believe make sense, but which, taken out of context and thrown back at me would be a torture. In an election campaign there’s no room for the poetic metaphor (I once published a poem which features a baby in a woodburning stove – it was about post-natal depression); for honest self-examination (in my forthcoming book I examine my own racism); for self-disclosure (domestic violence, sex, desire – the list of topics subject to misinterpretation is quite long). These are creative decisions I would defend, but which, in the world of slur and spin, and 140-character character assassination, I would be unable to account for.

This is why I think that whatever one’s own political sympathies or affiliations, whatever one thinks of Mike Parker’s political affiliations or, indeed, of his writing, he deserves the overt, concerted and loud support of writers, artists, academics, intellectuals, and the literary and publishing organisations and institutions in Wales. We need people like Mike Parker in politics, standing for election across the political spectrum – people who are principled, thoughtful, intelligent and engaged, and who can bring to government a new kind of ethics and experience. But if we are to have them, we need to hold to account and demand correction from those individuals and groups who seek to misrepresent them

Jasmine Donahaye’s latest book is The Greatest Need, a biography of Lily Tobias. Her memoir, Losing Israel, is published in May.

29 thoughts on “Writers at risk of entering politics

  1. Here’s what was written by Mr Parker in 2001 –

    “To some extent, rural Wales has become the British equivalent of the American mountains, inhabited by a sprinkling of paranoid conspiracy theorists, gun-toting Final Solution crackpots and anti-government obsessives.”

    I would draw a distinction between an “anti- government obsessive” and a “gun- toting Final Solution crackpot”. The first fits into the “certain strand of American libertarianism” to which Ms Donahaye refers while the designation ‘Nazi’, in my humble opinion, is a perfectly valid shorthand for a “gun-toting Final Solution nutcase”.

    Indeed, the “libertarians” are usually so anti-government that they are the first to scream “New World Order Illuminati, totalitarian Nazi” at the Federal Govt.

    Mr Parker still seems to be sticking to his views although he seems to regret the colourful overthetop language now. A pity. It’s the over the top nature of the comments which make the whole spat entertaining.

    More writers in politics please – at least the language is more lively.

  2. Knowing nothing of Mr Parker beyond this article, which is favourable to him, it is hardly evidence of his thoughtfulness and intelligence if he describes libertarians as ‘Final Solution crackpots.’

    Libertarians believe in a minimal role for the State, while the so-called ‘Final Solution,’ the Shoah, is the ultimate manifestation of the direct opposite, extreme Collectivism or Statism.

    This is a basic conceptual error. It is also a deeply offensive insult, almost certainly deliberate. As such, it is fairly typical of the misrepresentation those who do not go along with the dominant Collectivism – whether Socialist or Nationalist or both – must endure on a daily basis in contemporary Wales.

    This is indeed one of the reasons that the best of our people rarely put themselves forward for election these days. The article is right about that much – but perhaps Jasmine, who comes across as a sincere individual, might care to reflect on whether it is not, in other places, part of the problem.

  3. Every politician who smeared Mr Parker with the awful piece of journalism from the Cambrian News, should read this. Then, if they do not have the courage to at least admit fault, they are clearly not deserving of their electorate. Peter Hain, Huw Thomas and Leighton Andrews are three who should be tested this way. The first an MP, the second a Councillor and the third an AM. All are guilty of spreading the slur, all removed their tweets & to my knowledge, none have retracted their comments or apologised. Sadly, the BBC and other braodcast media in Wales are equally at fault; the Western Mail for once showing higher standards of journalism.

  4. A vital contribution, Jasmine. Lots of issues thrown up by this sorry episode. The continuing and serious deficit in mainstream journalism in Wales, and the persistent habit of recycling ‘stories’ and press releases is, to my mind, the most serious. The fully intended smear of Mike Parker’s candidacy can go largely unchallenged because many media outlets do not appear to give much importance to truth over controversy. Although to be fair, I applaud Martin Shipton’s piece on the matter. Not as loudly as this, mind. I hope the opposite becomes true and that writers, artists and intellectuals of all stripes are inspired to weigh in to public debate as you have here far more frequently and readily in order to counterbalance our media’s obsession with headlines and spin over analysis and facts.

  5. Oh Really! All of my life nationalists have trotted out endless derogatory remarks about English people living in the West and North West of Wales. When the snide closet racism finally comes home to roost then they cry foul and pretend that they were talking about someone they once met or someone that they overheard in a pub …..but anyway we all know about the “White Flight” racist English so it’s Ok to tell unattributable stories about them. And then it becomes….well, you know, ALL English people living in West Wales.

    It’s just the usual “dog whistle” rubbish trotted out endlessly by nasty nationalists everywhere….Wales, Scotland, England the story is the same; incomers bad, us locals pure as the driven snow. Plaid, BNP what’s the difference?

  6. and yet again, the Welsh language is shoehorned into the issue! Mike Parker’s original article was not about that at all!

  7. I hope Mike Parker does not let this attempt to smear him affect his campaign and it’s good to see those like the author and others who are exposing the smear for what it is.

    Writers who enter politics are particularly vulnerable to such tactics whatever party they’re from but as long as they are British nationalists there will at least be a national outlet for rebuttal whether in left or right leaning press and media or a BBC with a duty to be impartial.
    However for Scottish and Welsh nationalists no such outlet for rebuttal exists UK wide and in Wales’ case even Wales wide.
    Part of the democratic deficit taken advantage of in order to maintain the British nation state.

  8. Yes, for goodness sake let us have , “higher standards” of journalism in the Welsh media.
    Perhaps then the level of political debate in this country would be elevated above the present platitudes than the tawdry commentary that at present is called , ‘journalism’; much of which in my opinion is ego bound, and male – dominated.

  9. Shalom Jasmine… Your basic premise is correct – if writers enter politics every word they have ever written will probably be dissected by their new enemies in the political tribes they did not join. These words can and probably will be used against them. Where your premise falls flat is that the same applies to everybody else who enters politics!

    So on that basis nobody should enter politics and, in a sense, this is what is happening now. It has become very difficult for anybody who has ever ‘lived’ or who has established opinions of their own to enter politics because everything will be used against them. Politics has become a dirty game – it is no longer about serving the people it is about serving themselves! The political class… The bubble dwellers…

    This is probably why politics has increasingly become dominated by boring out-of-touch faceless clones who have done a degree in politics, or similar, have then become interns, or spent some time in the 3rd sector, and then they slowly move ‘up’ the political ladder until they come to rule over us. In the end it hardly even matters which party they support because they all came out of the same artificial politically correct mould and they all look, think, and sound the same! In most broad policy areas they are the same – they only differ in detail… So the details get blown up out of all proportion and they call it party politics. We are left with terribly earnest sounding empty shells battling for supremacy and the real people can’t see much point in voting for any of them!

    And when the proverbial hits the fan it seems the political class comes together and it becomes them and us – increasingly they look after their own in preference to looking after the best interests of the people they claim to serve.

    So if you do decide to enter politics, make sure you have or can grow a skin that’s thick enough to take whatever they throw at you and be prepared to be constantly disappointed by your fellow travellers… Unless you become one of them in which case the journey will have been pointless because we really do need to break down the status quo and put more real people who have real lives back into front-line politics… As part of that process I would agree that we must revive and defend the right to offend!

  10. I wonder if J Jones has seen what the Unionist Labour candidate Huw Thomas wrote in 2006?

    So, it is OK to mock an English girl in England (Oxford, not Rhydychen) for offering him a St George flag.

    It is likewise cool to incite people to disfigure cars on the basis of their owner’s nationality.

    But if people despise the BNP, heaven forbid!

    Mike Parker will come out of this a better man. Muck has been spread and once it has been cleared away, a cooler reality will emerge from this pathetic episode.

  11. People despise politicians. But politicians also despise the electorate, with just as much justification. Most people could not name the Home Secretary or the Welsh Secretary, do not know what Westminster controls and what Cardiff Bay does and have little idea of the different policies of the parties. The electorate, generally speaking, is lazy and pig- ignorant. That being so it gets slightly better politicians than it deserves but only slightly.

  12. Mr Jones – your hostility to Plaid Cymru appears to have coloured your judgment. As Mike Parker, was born and brought up in England and now lives in west Wales, I think it is stretching credulity to believe that Mike Parker will ever call all English people (including himself) living in west Wales racists; and as this Englishman is the candidate for Plaid Cymru in Ceredigion it does not indicate a party overly hostile to England and the English.

    As for the rather ludicrous, “Plaid, BNP what’s the difference?”. Well one is a left-wing, liberal, internationalist, pro-EU, bilingual party; while the other is a far-right racist, anti-immigrant, anti-EU party set up by the neo-nazi John Tyndall. After the recent leaders debate on ITV, where Leanne Wood was widely praised dressing-down of the right-wing Nigel Farage over his comments about so-called “health tourists” with HIV, you must be in a minority of one to hold such a bizarre viewpoint.

  13. Funny that nobody seems to have picked up on Parker’s hypocrisy.

    His initial reaction to this furore was to say that he wrote that article a long time ago…when he was much younger…that he was less wise back then etc etc…

    And then afterwards when the story became bigger, he came out and said he fully stood by his remarks.

    These two positions, might I suggest, are inconsistent with each other. If he stands by his remarks he made all those years ago 100%, why would his first response have been to temper them?

    I also agree with what another comment hinted (the first comment by John R) that Parker’s words were ham-fisted and very poorly informed, perhaps trying to sound more cultured and informed than he really is, comparing Nazis to the inhabitants of the American mountains, almost interchangeably.

    A remarkable lack of political knowledge I would suggest – I don’t think Parker really knew what he was talking about. So he should make a great MP.

  14. Mike Parker denounces racism, and the lamentable Cambrian News tries to smear him with the very thing he opposes. I’ve myself experienced the kind of appalling attitudes of which he complains. There’s always, of course, the particularly tedious irritation of having one’s conversation interrupted by some paranoid boor who’s convinced one was talking English till they came in, but switched to Welsh specifically to talk about them.

    However, by about the middle of the Eighties I noticed a particularly unpleasant development. The boor’s rant now began with words to the effect that ‘I left [town somewhere in England] to get away from the [group of people currently targeted for demonization by the Blackshirt Mail], and I can’t be listening to all this foreign talk.’ In addition, as Mike Parker noted there were some genuinely frightening individuals who’d decided that Wales would suit them very well as a sort of adventure playground. It’s good that there are politicians such as Mike Parker and Leanne Wood ready to take a principled stand against stereotyping and xenophobia.

  15. I’m not sure that the author of this piece has learnt anything from this Mike Parker episode! Mr Parker got in hot water by lazy making stereotypes punctuated with offensive language… yet Jasmine Donahaye is in danger of stereotyping here with her tangent swipe at English people and their attitude towards the Welsh language. This is totally irrelevant to the story and was not part of Mike Parker’s initial concerns in the slightest.

    What point is Jasmine Donahaye trying to make with her one line ‘thow-away’ comment one wonders? Are English people in Wales not allowed to have any opinion on the Welsh language according to her? That in itself would seem to be a bit racist… unless of course she is also not happy for me (Welsh) to hold an opinion contrary to hers on the Welsh language.

    Now of course, hearing the Welsh language spoken organically in Ceridigion, far away from draconian Welsh Government legislation and the whip of the Welsh language commissioner is a truly wonderful thing. However, if Jasmine Donahaye is referring to the language in political and policy terms then I and many others who are not English would have more than a few choice words as to what shouldn’t be happening currently ‘in the name of the language’! However, going by Plaid Cymru’s logic, in the same way that Mike Parker is allowed to be offensive to English incomers (because he is one), I should be allowed to criticise the Welsh language with impunity because I am Welsh. What a bizarre world we live in!

  16. @ SeaMôr Bytts
    “…. I should be allowed to criticise the Welsh language with impunity because I am Welsh. ”
    Isn’t that what you do already.

  17. There is a great deal of diversion going on there. The essential point is that Mike Parker wrote some remarks about English migrants to Wales arriving expressing racist views about their home country. This clearly angered Mr Parker and he used angry and intemperate language to express his views. Were he to express his views as a candidate today, he would no doubt have a more measured approach but, if he has any integrity, his anger at racism will not have dissipated with the passage of time; he will have simply learnt to manage it more effectively.

    However, there seems to be an underlying assumption by some that English people can never be criticised for their behaviour and opinions, however ugly. Most people understand that when you move to a new country or area, you do not go around making hostile remarks based on ignorance about the community into which you have moved. If you do, then expect the consequences. Unfortunately, the English as a nation have form on this, having conquered half of the world destroying languages and cultures in their wake and seeking to impose their values and language in pursuit of wealth. Wales and Scotland also played their part in the British Empire project so we do not have completely clean hands in this matter.

    Seamôr Bytts states his view that he should be allowed to criticise the Welsh language with impunity because he is Welsh. He can criticise the Welsh language as much as he likes. But no-one in a democracy gets to criticise with impunity.

    There is another question here which often gets ignored in the heat of battle, and that is why people have such vehement objections to the existence of a language and the presence in out society of speakers of that language. The emotions are at times so vile that it strongly suggests that there is hatred and bigotry at work. As we seek to build a civilised society, there is no place for bigotry in it, even though it is a daily reality for many, and not just Welsh speakers.

    So by all means, express your ugly views, but don’t be surprised if you wake up with a crowd around you.

  18. Rhobat Bryn Jones,

    “Seamor Bytts states his view that he should be allowed to criticise Welsh”

    Don’t play silly! It’s plain to see that what I was doing was accentuating a point. I was merely pointing out that Plaid Cymru’s defence of Mike Parker’s offensive sterotyping of the English was “Oh it’s alright… he is English”. Then in this article Jasmine Donahaye suggests that the English shouldn’t be allowed to hold an opinion on the Welsh language. The logic is a little bizarre!

  19. Putting your personal remark to one side, you over-made a point by citing an extreme and thus ludicrous example as a way of ridiculing a more serious point that was being made.

    For one thing, the charge that Mike Parker stereotyped the English has been made but not proved. You do not win an argument by simply asserting an assumption with no supporting evidence.

    Mike Parker may have offended certain English people, but being offensive is not in itself the issue. I am quite happy to call Nick Griffin, an obvious example, a racist. I expect that he finds that offensive. I hope he does. And for as long as he continues to express racist views, I will continue to offend him. When he stops, so will I.

    The issue that you are avoiding, if not in denial about, is that there English migrants who come to Wales with racist attitudes, including towards us Welsh. They are far from being a majority but they are a significant number. What is telling about your position is that you have no view on what are unacceptable attitudes in a civilised country but you leap on the people who call these racists out. What does that say about your values?

    Perhaps my powers of concentration have eluded me but where does Jasmine say that the English shouldn’t be allowed to to hold an opinion on the Welsh language?

  20. @SeaMôr Bytts
    ” I was merely pointing out that Plaid Cymru’s defence of Mike Parker’s offensive sterotyping of the English was “Oh it’s alright… he is English”.”

    The fact is that MP did not stereotype the English in his article for Planet fourteen years ago. Have you not read and understood the text of his article? He compared a section of the English incoming community, who were happy to tell him about their bigoted views and reason for moving to Wales, with amongst other things the ‘gun-toting Final Solution crackpots’ that retreat to the wilds of the USA.

    If anyone has taken the “Oh it’s alright… he is English” position it’s been the British nationalist press, media and political parties who have ignored what he wrote for the past fourteen years. Do you think the same thing could be said If Mike Parker was Welsh.

  21. ‘Serious misrepresentation of a writer’s work’!

    I am subject to this on a daily basis and mainly from my most venerable compatriots, bless them.

    As for freedom of expression in Wales, dear me, yet another bold fantasy. The Welsh media such as it is, has been nationalised. BBC Wales, the Western Mail, ITV Wales…….and why?

    Because so many of the journos, staffers, presenters even weathermen, are all in the pockets of Welsh government patronage. All fully documented, all fully exposed in the national press and Westminster’s Labour Uncut.

    At least Jasmine, if you are going to pontificate about Welsh political freedom of expression be honest about it.

    The Welsh ‘media’ is a complete and utter joke (apart from SWW Media, who at least try, they publish me!) and I know. I’ve sat right next to them all at press briefings and so on. As for serious Welsh media political commentary, analysis and debate, you have as much chance of this in Wales as my ageing one legged greyhound catching a rabbit!

    Wales is in dire need of a Paxman or Andrew Neil, nationalist pussycats just don’t hack it.

    Julian Ruck

    PS I might just stand at the Assembly Elections next year? – now that really would be fun. Imagine how much of a pain in the arse I could be then?!

  22. I really don’t think it is a good idea for writers of any type (including Mr.Parker) to enter politics unless you have the hide of a Churchill or Johnston. Express your anger in books, literature, film, music, any creative media. This, over the long term, has a much more potent effect on society.
    So I am very glad indeed such a talented writer as Ms.Donahaye is not going to stand as a politician. It would be an unmitigated disaster for her personally and would deprive the rest of us of a true and talented literary voice for the expression and exploration of ideas.

  23. To John Winterson Richards,

    The bravery is all yours for agreeing with me on something.

    To Chris Jones,

    Where do you want me to start?

  24. To Chris Jones,

    As it happens I’m starting to do book reviews. I recently did one on Naomi Klein’s ‘This Changes Everything’, some interesting responses from America.

    Not quite the poeticals, but what the hell. Oh and scribbling didn’t seem to do Disraeli any harm, indeed like the great man himself, when I fancy a good read I just write one!

    Julian Ruck

  25. So pleased to see Mr Ruck contributing to discussions. Finally, we will get to read the thoughts of a compassionate humanitarian, who has done so much to advance Welsh culture.

  26. Jasmine Donahaye preaches rigour but doesn’t practise it.
    She accuses the Cambrian News of politically-motivated misrepresentation of Mike Parker, of trying to “smear” him and of practising “tawdry” journalism, and says she is “appalled – though not surprised – by what the Cambrian News has done…” She states as a fact that the Cambrian News did not read the 2001 Planet article (how can she possibly know that?).
    Thus her entire thrust is that the paper acted reprehensibly, did a thoroughly bad job and was generally at fault from start to finish. At which point she leaves us dangling. For, apart from one sketchy attempt at justifying the “misrepresentation” charge, she affords her catalogue of denigration not the slightest substance. She makes no attempt to justify her vilification, provides not a single a scrap of evidence to support it. Donahaye raises two fingers in the direction of the paper and sidles away, as if in deference to some eccentric assumption that denigration requires no explanation. Showing a similar contempt for the need for substantiation, Ioan, Dylan Moore and Tim Saunders do much the same in their responses.
    Funnily enough, this is rather like what Mike Parker did. Probably unintentionally, he nevertheless wrote and later defended what could be interpreted as large-scale unjustified disparagement of people from England who now live in rural Wales.
    As a writer, Parker must surely be keen on precision. Strange, then, that something went wrong when, in 2001, he contributed to Planet an animated article on racism. Strange too that something also went wrong 14 years later, in April 2015 when, by now Plaid Cymru’s parliamentary candidate for Ceredigion, he said he stood by what he had written in Planet. For in saying that he appeared to be standing by one crucial detail in his article which was insupportable because he had provided no evidence to support it.
    This mattered, because the detail in question unfairly cast a lot of people from England now living in rural Wales in a very unsavoury light. They had apparently been labelled as racists.
    Parker had been living in Wales for about 18 months when he wrote his piece for Planet. He had moved to Montgomeryshire from the Midlands and liked what he found. Apart from one thing.
    He said in Planet that he had “lost count of the number of times that people from England who have spoken to me in pubs and shops have made racist remarks…”
    He wrote: “It is a sad truth that many English migrants into rural Wales are out-and-out racists.
    “Their principal reason for leaving English cities was to get away from the multi-cultural society, from black and Asian people in particular, and they see rural Wales, with its largely white population, as a safe haven.”
    Leaving aside the point that there can be neither safe nor unsafe havens because a haven is a place of safety, it’s clear that Parker should have seen that it was ridiculous –on the strength of what he had written in his article – for him to claim that “many” people from England living in rural Wales were “out-and-out racists.” Because nowhere in that piece did he provide evidence that “many” – that is, crucially, a large number – of the people who had crossed the border and settled in rural Wales were in fact racists.
    He may indeed have “lost count of the number of times that people from England who have spoken to me in pubs and shops have made racist remarks…” But how did that add up to corroboration of his claim that “many” of the tens of thousands of people who had been born in England and later moved to rural Wales were racists? It didn’t.
    Unfortunately, Mike Parker seems not to have spotted his mistake. Any more, presumably, than did the people at Planet who, presumably, checked his article before it was printed.
    And so to April 2015, when he is asked about the piece by the Cambrian News. Parker says: “I was younger and angrier when it was written and would never express myself like that now.”
    It’s anyone’s guess what that means. But then comes the doubly unfortunate thing. He adds: “However, the point I was making is definitely still valid.”
    Still valid? So, 14 years later, where yet is the evidence that “many” of the 28,000-odd England-born people now living, for example, in Ceredigion had wanted to escape from “…black and Asian people” and saw rural Wales “with its largely white population, as a safe haven…”?
    Parker says he “lost count of” the number of people he heard making racist remarks. Perhaps there were dozens, or scores. Possibly even more. He doesn’t say, but he clearly means a lot, though more than dozens is perhaps unlikely.
    However, because tens of thousands of people from England now live in rural Wales, and he says that “many” such migrants are “out-and-out racists”, he must be referring to thousands of people.
    Yet these will be people he has never met and never spoken to, and he will have not the faintest idea what they think about anything. He cannot possibly know that they are racists. But his use of “many” – in a context of thousands – in his Planet article makes it impossible to conclude other than that he was saying they were. And now he says that what he wrote 14 years ago is “definitely still valid”.
    This, then, is big-scale unsubstantiated denigration. It’s likely to have been unintended, but that’s what it is. Parker denounces prejudice in others, but leaves himself open to that very same charge.

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