Friday, August 01, 2014


So Powys County Councillor Myfanwy Alexander has caused a stink by using the N word in a cabinet debate.  As expected in these politically-correct times retribution was swift.  Ms Alexander will be sent on an equalities training course and has already apologised for her use of the word - why does this all remind me of Maoist China?  She has also been referred to the unelected Public Service Ombudsman for Wales, which will doubtless lead to more abject apologies and severe reprimands in due course.

Ms Alexander used the unfortunate term during a discussion on the cross-border health arrangements which see many Powys residents treated in English hospitals.  The councillor complained that she and other patients were being mocked for having Welsh forenames.  Some Shropshire based public-servant had told Myfanwy that her name was just "a meaningless jumble of letters."  Furthermore when she had asked if a Welsh-speaking nurse could speak to her father she had been told "that's fine as long as you don't mind your father being considered a racist."

Ms Alexander rightly complained that an Indian patient would not be mocked for having an unfamiliar name.  I'm reminded of a recent BBC "comedy" where a Welsh teacher was humiliated by having his pupils make sheep noises.  Everyone in the show thought this very droll and I was left wondering what the reaction would have been had an African teacher - to use another degrading stereotype - been greeted by monkey sounds.  The councillor viewed such double standards as Welsh people "being treated like n*****s over the border."  What she clearly meant was that Welsh people are now the only minority who can be treated in such a disrespectful way by polite society.  Of course the councillor's substantive complaints are ignored in the hullabaloo and she has become the villain of the piece for transgressing a taboo.

It seems to me that these taboos have become a way for the neo-liberal elite to avoid any suggestion that they are exploiters.  They may not pay their fair share of taxes, they may be economically and socially corrupt but at least they never break politically-correct codes of behaviour.  Why should they, none of them damage the financial bottom line.

So where do we go from here?  A hundred years ago our Radnorshire village had a rather good mixed choir and I've inherited a couple of examples of sheet music from their repertoire.  One piece is an English-language version of Myfanwy by Thomas Walter Price entitled Arabella - some even claim that Price's lyrics predate the Welsh version?  Perhaps Ms Alexander should consider adopting this forename.  It should have sufficient vowels to satisfy even the dimmest English public servant.


Jac o' the North, said...

The point here is that Myfanwy Alexander wasn't insulting black people, she was identifying with them. That's not racism, that's empathy.

I recall French Canadian activists back in the 1960s referring to their people as 'white niggers' in order to explain that they were exploited in Canada as black people were in the USA.

Anyone too thick to understand the difference is to be pitied; but those who know that Ms Alexander was not making a racist comment, are to be condemned for the opportunistic bastards they clearly are.

radnorian said...

Is it opportunism or fear? You know what a storm of self righteous indignation falls upon those who transgress.

Maybe these councillors are just scared of standing up for common sense. And of course they can get suspended by unelected officials for breaking some rule or other. Another affront to democracy.

Anonymous said...

Of course Unison really do live up to Jac's description "opportunistic bastards."

Anonymous said...

Bore da pawb.

The substantive point is whether Welsh people are treated badly by hospitals 'over the border'. Because of a lot of work and personal experience as a carer, I thought her comments were seriously inaccurate and inflammatory. We have never been treated with anything but courtesy and respect and have never received a second class service. Sometimes, staff did not know where Rhayader is, but this may have been true of their knowledge of say South Herefordshire.

The real problem of course is access to services, but in the real world, most complex services eg heart surgery are done on a regional basis because of specialisation and therefore we have to travel. Presumably we would prefer a skilled heart surgeon to the general surgeon of old, even if s/he is English?

Councillor M should produce some real evidence of poor treatment eg waiting times, non access to services etc rather than throw brickbats at the English NHS. (or look to her own services, don't start me on this one).

As for the storm on the use of the N word, I find her use of it puzzling. She should know it it not acceptable and at a deeper level, I find comparing our situation to black people in the deep South .. well .. unsettling. This is because the depth of discrimination is simply not comparable at all as any superficial study of the deep South will show. I suppose it is the appropriation of the relatively privileged of the experiences of the deeply underprivileged that I find objectionable.

Django said...

It's an open secret that hospitals in Herefordshire and Shropshire do not care to have patients that live in Wales on their wards longer than they have to - despite the fact that many of them are English anyway.

In regard to access to services perhaps anonymous can tell us how the NHS in Wales compares with other retirement hot spots in England?

Anonymous said...

Django, cannot really comment on the myth that Welsh patients are discharged more quickly than English patients, certainly our experience in Hereford and Birmingham was the complete opposite. There is a lot of pressure on beds at Hereford as not enough were provided when the PFI hospital was built.

Also dont know regional picture in England either - waiting times in England were certainly shorter for elective surgery such as cardiac and orthopaedic.

Anonymous said...

What a complete load of utter tosh, both pst and comments.

radnorian said...

I'm sure you have an excellent point Anon just not quite sure what it is?