Dear Giles, what are you afraid of?

Dear Giles,

Recently you appeared on BBC Question time in Bangor, Wales and, of course, the question of Brexit came up around these 2 major points:

  • whether or not EU funding for Wales would be continued by the UK government (it likely won’t)
  • whether or not the UK government was listening to the regions re Brexit (it likely isn’t).

The Tory representative was clearly looking uncomfortable around these points.  He tried to indicate that UK government taking over funding for Wales was part of the EU brexit negotiation (when clearly it isn’t) and that the government was listening to Welsh representatives when it’s clear that isn’t happening either.

At one point the specific question “Do you think the people of Wales were misled on Brexit?” and Hugo Rifkind was very careful to say:

I think the Leave campaign was willfully misleading however I wouldn’t like to say if the people of Wales were misled, that’s up to them

So far so good, a reasonable discussion & focused, by the way, almost wholly on the present issues facing Wales.  Then you loudly interjected, around 25 minutes in:

Its very patronizing, all this thing you get from remain, saying people were fooled, that they are all idiots. This is the message people are hearing, it was was all to do with the media, there was tabloid media.  People are grown ups, they understood, and now they are being treated like poor little dears who didn’t understand.

Who said this?  Who on the panel “patronized” the voters or called them idiots?  In fact when Leanne Wood tried to say “I never called anyone an idiot” you talked over her and said “well that’s the mesage people are hearing”.  But if anything the theme was about broken promises, government not listening and the very real concern that funding for Wales will dry up.  I’ve watched the section 2 or 3 times now and your interjection in no way reflects the discussion up until that point.

So I have to ask Giles, what exactly are you afraid of?  You say you love democracy, but democracy must involve healthy and honest debate.  Valid, real and current concerns about involvement of the regions and welsh funding were being discussed and you tried to shout them down with the same frankly populist rant of “stop calling people idiots” used by any right wing Brexit supporter when anyone dares to question the wisdom of Brexit.  Why are you trying to shut down debate?  Why are you afraid of honest discussion?  Can we not even discuss the terms of Brexit now?  Why does any criticism of our current precarious position instantly equate to saying that leave voters in June last year are “idiots”?  How can you say that the EU has a “democratic deficit” and then proceed to ignore any discussion of Central government not listening to the regions?

It’s not a case of people being “patronized” by Remain.  The people in Wales (and in other regions) were told “it’s our money, of course the funding will continue” and they voted accordingly.  They were lied to because now those promises are being broken, why are you trying to close down debate over those broken promises?

When it comes to the current NHS crisis do you attack the government for broken promises over how the NHS is “safe in our hands”?

Or is your attitude “Listen the voters knew what they were voting for 2 years ago so there’s no point complaining now”?

I wonder perhaps if you were smarting over being called out earlier for being “callous” when you casually said:

it may well be that the rebalancing of the economy will be hard for lots of people but in the long term it will be much better for all of us

not registering the fact that its about to get very hard, very quickly for many of the people in the audience due to broken leave promises.  Will it be hard for you personally?  Will you personally lose anything from Brexit, because if not what right do you have to say that the pain of others is a price worth paying?

You’re a man of the cloth, isn’t listening to people’s concerns part of the job description?


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