Wednesday, January 10, 2007

its a shame about David Banks....

When I moved to the ancestral home land a few years ago obviously I started reading the local press. Mostly it is dull but worthy sometimes dreadful now and again excellent etc.

One of the few people who wrote with any great style or appeared to have anything to say was Daily Post columnist David Banks. Its not that I agreed with him but he wrote with passion skill and humour and seemed generally well informed. I am not sure whats happend of late but he seems to have gone off the ball.

I dont expect him or any other columnist to give my party an easy ride. A party that cannot listen to fair criticism has a problem. About a year ago David wrote a column attacking Plaid for spending time coming up with a new logo and our sonic version of said logo. He mentions the sonic version just about every time he writes about Plaid. He claimed we should be spending time developing our policies. I pointed out to him that we were doing just that and that comparatively little time had been spent on the logo. In the comments section on his blogg he accused me of being less than honest in my response . Yet the reality is that the we have spent two years developing policy and a series of meetings held over a six month period sorted out the logo. Still maybe he gets some pleasure in winding us up.

This week he had a pop at our policy of giving a free lap top to every child claiming that we would want the computers back after 5 years, that not every child would need one and that the money would be better spent on a few books. A phone call to one of our press team would have revealed its not our policy to ask for the computers back. The cost and bureaucracy of some sort of means test would be absurd. Huge numbers of kids in Wales have no access or very little access to IT at home. Many parents struggle to find the money to help equip their kids. Here is a great chance to really help develop the Welsh IT skill base and in the long term attract better paid jobs and investment. David Banks couldn't be bothered to check his facts.

Fair enough we all make mistakes and get a bit lazy. I have been guilty now and again of the same thing. It would be less of a problem if David had mentioned the latest budget in the assembly. Thanks in part to Plaid schools will get extra money and will be able to keep money saved through greater efficiency that Labour wanted returned to the general "pot". Still mentioning this would have made his comments about spending the computer money on books look a bit daft which is perhaps why he neglected to mention it.

However if it was just about having a go at Plaid I would be tempted to leave it. The other week though he had a go at the Conwy County Council Cabinet for refusing to allow cyclists on the promenade or for finding a safe route for them. In fairness he has a point about safe routes and if there was an easy solution one would have been found. However his claims that the cabinet were ignoring the local economy are close to barmy. He asked what the strategy is for developing tourism in Llandudno. Well maybe the multi-million investment in the conference centre has passed him buy but the strategy is fairly clear to those of us who actually read the Daily Post.

Does any of this really matter? Actually I think it does. There are few media outlets in North Wales and as I said above David Banks was one of the best writers commenting on issues in North Wales. I would welcome him taking a serious look at our programme, things like the 50% cut in business rates, support to first time buyers, plans to halt the hospital closure programme etc., even if I didn't like his conclusions .

Some people in my party tell me that it is a risk criticising a journalist a few months out from an election. I reckon he is big enough to respond honestly.

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