Marcus Stead

Journalist Marcus Stead

Archive for January 2020

NEW PODCAST: Coronavirus Special

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By MARCUS STEAD

Coronavirus Special

 

Wuhan

Wuhan in Eastern China

In this special podcast, Marcus Stead and Greg Lance-Watkins discuss the rapidly-developing situation with the coronavirus outbreak:

  • What is the coronavirus?
  • Has the Chinese government reacted appropriately?
  • In western countries, what can citizens and governments do?
  • How serious could this potentially become?
  • And at some point, probably not this time, is a serious pandemic inevitable?

The podcast is also available on the Talk Podcasts website, iTunes, Google Podcasts, Spotify and the TuneIn app.

 

Written by Marcus Stead

January 28, 2020 at 5:09 am

Holocaust Memorial Day: Welsh Nationalism’s Shameful Antisemitism

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By MARCUS STEAD

WITH EACH year that passes, the number of Holocaust survivors still living dwindles ever further. For many years after the liberation of the concentration camps, survivors often did not tell their stories, the full horror of what they had experienced being too painful to recount.

But in recent decades, as they approached old age, survivors began to speak more openly about what they went through. Has the passing of years eased the pain of their memories? It’s not for me to say, but I suspect it has not. Survivors telling their stories in books, on film, in lectures and in school assemblies do so because they understand the importance of lessons being learned, and of history never repeating these mistakes again.

As the number of Holocaust survivors dwindles, their stories become more important, not less. The years since Jeremy Corbyn became Labour leader have seen a resurgence of antisemitism to levels that would have seemed unthinkable in mainstream British politics just a decade ago. And as with the 1930s, the resurgence of antisemitism has come from the left.

While it is right and proper that antisemitism in the Labour Party is properly reported and scrutinised, it is wrong to assume that antisemitism in Britain is confined to the Labour Party.

Welsh nationalist activists Phil Stead and Aled Gwyn Williams pay homage to Saunders Lewis

Welsh nationalist party Plaid Cymru has a history of antisemitism stretching back to its founder, Saunders Lewis, but it remains an ongoing trait with the party. As recently as last month’s general election, Plaid Cymru member Sahar Al-Faifi was suspended days after she appeared in a party election party when it was revealed she had been responsible a number of antisemitic social media posts several years earlier.

It would also be wrong to assume that Plaid Cymru has gone to great lengths to distance itself from its past. Saunders Lewis is still widely revered by Plaid Cymru supporters and the Welsh nationalist movement in general. They can be rather touchy when you raise the subject. At best, they seem to regard Lewis’s antisemitism as a minor character flaw, like leaving the toilet seat up after using it.

Below, I have reproduced an exert from my lengthy essay ‘Wales – A Country Divided’, which was originally published in February last year and can be read in full here. The exert details Saunders Lewis’s long history of antisemitism, which litters not only his politics but also his wider writings.

Underneath that, I have reproduced an article by former BBC Wales Head of News and Current Affairs David Morris Jones. Until last autumn, he ran an excellent hyperlocal news website for Penarth, which was updated several times per day. Ill health forced him to stop work, and the site has been closed down, but I have access to an article he published on 30 May 2019, in which he used former Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood’s disgusting comparison of Brexiteers to Nazis as a platform to expose Plaid Cymru’s long links to fascism and the Nazi movement.

Extract from Wales – A Country Divided by Marcus Stead

Indeed, Plaid Cymru itself was founded during a meeting at the 1925 Eisteddfod in Pwllheli. The party’s co-founder, the aforementioned Saunders Lewis, was an ardent Monarchist and devout Roman Catholic. He didn’t care much for political independence, even going so far as to say that Wales was a nation (as in a people with a culture and, most importantly for him, a language). His ultimate vision was of a Welsh-speaking, monoglot Wales of small-scale farmers as part of a united Catholic Europe.

Lewis was far from universally popular among the Welsh nationalist movement. A significant number were suspicious of his conversion from Nonconformism to Roman Catholicism. He was pretentious and snobbish, with a reedy voice, cerebral style and aristocratic contempt for the proletariat. Many Welsh language literary critics don’t hold his extensive writings in high regard.

Saunders Lewis

Saunders Lewis

But there was a far darker side to Lewis, ones which modern-day Plaid Cymru prefers not to talk about.

Lewis’s writing is littered with numerous grotesque examples of anti-Semitism. A repeated phrase of his is ‘Hebrew Snouts’, which he uses when referring to Jewish financiers, with Alfred Mond being a favourite target of his.

Lewis had an affection for the politics of Franco, Salazar and Petain. Plaid Cymru officially remained neutral during World War II. Some senior figures openly advocated that a German victory would be better for Wales. Lewis’s anti-Semitism and support for fascism became a target for opponents of the party and an embarrassment to some of its supporters, including the writer Ambrose Bebb (the grandfather of current Conservative MP Guto Bebb).

Of Hitler himself, Lewis declared: “At once he fulfilled his promise—a promise which was greatly mocked by the London papers months before that—to completely abolish the financial strength of the Jews in the economic life of Germany.”

Plaid Cymru’s stance did not stem from Christian pacifism but from their own nationalist opposition to Britain, which they saw as a greater threat to Wales than Hitler. In the late 1930s, the party’s internal newspaper cited Jewish influence over the British media as a source of the drive to war.

Of  English children being evacuated to Wales to avoid the bombing of their homes during the war, Plaid Cymru said that that would completely submerge and destroy all of Welsh national tradition. Saunders Lewis went on to say that the movement on population is ‘one of the most horrible threats to the continuation and to the life of the Welsh nation that has ever been suggested in history.’

So, there we have it. Hitler and Mussolini were friends of the nationalists, but English children escaping the ravages of war were the enemy.

Plaid Cymru doesn’t like to mention or discuss, let alone condemn its own murky past. Indeed, former party President, Lord Dafydd Wigley, who will have known Lewis personally, called for the ‘character assassination’ of him to end during a 2015 interview, as though Lewis’s abhorrent views were some kind of minor character flaw.

David Morris Jones on Leanne Wood comparing Brexiteers to Nazis, and Plaid Cymru’s links to fascism and antisemitism

David Morris Jones

 

Leanne Wood,( former leader of Plaid Cymru and a former AM for South Wales Central which includes Penarth ) has come under attack for publishing a cartoon on Facebook which suggests that people who want Britain to Leave the European Union are, in effect, Nazis .

The controversial  cartoon shows a figure representing the EU arm-wrestling with a  Nazi Swastika over a ballot box.

On social media the lack-lustre Leanne, who was replaced as Leader of Plaid Cymru  last year, has praised the tasteless, politically-motivated and grossly misleading cartoon as a “powerful image”.

Leanne Wood served as the leader of Plaid Cymru from March 2012 to  September 2018. Plaid Cymru supporters have lambasted her lack of judgement – condemning her Facebook post as “idiotic”‘, “childish”  and “totally inappropriate”.

Ironically Plaid Cymru itself  (whose anti-semitic founder, Penarth author Saunders Lewis, praised Hitler and backed the Fascists in the Spanish Civil War)  has  plenty of fascist skeletons hidden away in its own murky history.

Plaid Cymru first came  to prominence after a terrorist arson attack committed by three of its central figures on the RAF bombing school on the Lleyn Peninsula in 1936.

It was at this bombing school young RAF airmen were to be trained to meet the growing threat posed by Nazi Germany.

In the 1960 and 1970s nationalists and fellow-travellers committed a series of terrorist bombing and arson attacks across Wales targeting major infrastructure and “English-owned” holiday homes .

The fascist element of nationalism reached its zenith in the creation of the “Free Wales Army” (whose uniforms and insignia aped those of the Nazis) and in the sinister Mudiad Amdiffyn Cymru which planted three bombs on the processional routes of at the Investiture of the Prince of Wales in 1969. (A soldier was killed in one explosion and a young boy injured in another).

 

 

 

Written by Marcus Stead

January 27, 2020 at 7:12 pm

Twenty Minute Topic Episode 32: The Great Brexiteers

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By MARCUS STEAD

 

The Great Brexiteers posterTHE UNITED Kingdom will finally leave the European Union this coming Friday at 11pm, and in this special edition of Twenty Minute Topic, Marcus Stead and Greg Lance-Watkins pay tribute to those eurosceptics who campaigned for Brexit, but sadly did not live long enough to see it delivered.

Among those Marcus and Greg pay tribute to are Norris McWhirter, perhaps best known for his role on long-running children’s TV programme Record Breakers, Labour politicians Peter Shore and Tony Benn, as well as Greg’s friend Christopher Booker, the campaigning journalist who died last year.

 

Marcus Stead 2020

Marcus Stead

Marcus and Greg could not possibly pay tribute to everyone who did their bit, but this podcast gives a brief insight into just some of the great characters who helped make Brexit happen.

The podcast is available on the Talk Podcasts website, iTunes, Spotify, Google Podcasts and via the TuneIn app.

Written by Marcus Stead

January 26, 2020 at 12:17 am

Marcus Stead on Radio Sputnik

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By MARCUS STEAD

Earlier today, I spoke to Radio Sputnik about the upcoming Brexit negotiations between Boris Johnson’s team and EU officials.

Johnson’s team will go into these negotiations believing Brexit to be an opportunity. Their approach will be that, while it would be good to have a positive future trading relationship with the EU, but that must not be at the expense of being able to strike trade deals with the wider world.

The EU may well try to force the UK to accept free movement of people, in return for Single Market access.

Controlling immigration is one of the key benefits of Brexit, and sacrificing it is not a red line worth crossing, but from the EU’s point of view; they won’t want to make leaving look easy or appealing, as anti-EU sentiment is growing fast in other countries throughout the bloc, and it knows that this project to build a single European state, is in trouble.

You can listen to the interview in full below:

 

Written by Marcus Stead

January 22, 2020 at 6:52 pm

Twenty Minute Topic Episode 31: Tackling Homelessness

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By MARCUS STEAD

 

Greg Lance-Watkins 1

Greg Lance-Watkins

IN THIS week’s edition, Marcus Stead talks to Greg Lance-Watkins about an idea Greg has for tackling homelessness.

Greg’s idea is a remarkably simple, yet effective way of bringing dignity and safety to the homeless.

Marcus asks Greg a series of questions about potential problems and pitfalls, all of which Greg addresses convincingly.

There doesn’t appear to be any obvious downside to Greg’s proposals, so why won’t local councils go ahead and implement it?

 

The podcast is available on the Talk Podcasts website, iTunes, Spotify, Google Podcasts and the TuneIn app.

Written by Marcus Stead

January 19, 2020 at 5:19 am

Twenty Minute Topic Episode 30: Harry and Meghan

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By MARCUS STEAD

 

Harry and MeghanTHE DUKE and Duchess of Sussex, or ‘Harry and Meghan’ as they are more commonly known, released a bombshell statement in which they announced they were stepping back from Royal duties to pursue their own paths.

In this podcast, Marcus Stead and Greg Lance-Watkins reflect on the appalling way in which they went about announcing this, without consulting the Queen or senior members of the Royal Family.

With ‘crisis talks’ set to take place during the next few days, they also assess what could and should happen from here.

Was Meghan Markle naive about what a life of Royal duty and service would mean, or is she calculating and scheming?

And how do Harry and Meghan’s ‘woke’ credentials contrast with the example set by the Queen over more than 60 years?

The podcast is available on the Talk Podcasts website, iTunes, Google Podcasts, Spotify and the TuneIn app.

Written by Marcus Stead

January 12, 2020 at 1:42 am

Coffee Break with Marcus and James: 2020 Episode 1

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By MARCUS STEAD

 

Coffee Break Poster 2020 1Marcus Stead and James Easton return with the first Coffee Break podcast of 2020. Topics discussed include:

  • Christmas shopping in January
  • Do other countries ‘do Christmas’ better?
  • Good manners/etiquette in Japan and South Korea
  • 2020 in sport

The podcast is available on the Talk Podcasts website, iTunes, Spotify, Google Podcasts and the TuneIn app.

Written by Marcus Stead

January 11, 2020 at 4:32 am

Twenty Minute Topic Episode 29: Iran – Are We Heading For War?

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By MARCUS STEAD

 

Qasem Soleimani

Qasem Soleimani

THE ASSASSINATION of major general Qasam Soleimani marked a major escalation of tensions with Iran, and what happens next is highly unpredictable.

In this week’s podcast, Marcus Stead and Greg Lance-Watkins put the events of early 2020 into a wider historical context, and assess what may happen in the days and weeks ahead.

What motivated President Trump to carry out this reckless action? Are we heading for a major conflict for Iran, and could this turn into a much larger war?

The podcast is available on the Talk Podcasts website, on iTunes, Google Podcasts, Spotify and the TuneIn app.

Written by Marcus Stead

January 5, 2020 at 2:44 am