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"Where YOU are"

Betsan Powys | 09:54 UK time, Wednesday, 26 August 2009

That moment near the end of the 10 o'clock news where Huw Edwards says "goodbye for now" because it's time for the news "where you are" makes a friend of mine wince, throw something at the telly and bend my ear whenever I bump into him.

He was born up in the north of England and now lives and works for the NHS in Wales. In fact he's a pretty crucial bit, now, of the NHS in Wales and has been for some time - a bit that's about taking big lumps out of small babies and saving their lives. He's interesting to talk to about health policy in Wales and there's no way that devolution has passed him by. He thinks about it because he feels the impact of it on his job every day. There are days when he likes it more than others.

However when Huw gears up for that handover, he squirms.

I don't think it's just the 'bye for now' bit. It's the 'where you are' bit that really gets him. Yes, he knows Huw is right because what you're about to get is indeed the news where you are and yes, he does want to know what's going on where he lives and works but does Huw HAVE to put it like that?

Let's face it, I say, isn't is possible that you hate it because it brings out that part of you that thinks devolution has not improved patient care, that militates against it and that - sorry about this mate - just needs to get over it. Or leave the room at 10.26pm.

He came to mind yesterday during a debate on how we in Wales cover the General Election. The question posed wasn't a brand new one but it's a more pertinent one than ever given the extra powers granted by the Government of Wales Act 2006.

Dilemma: what happens when a whole programme, being broadcast across the UK during the General Election campaign, is dedicated to - let's say - health? You can picture it. Candidates from all parties standing at lecterns, each being given a chance to spell out where they stand on all sorts of contentious issues relating to health policy. The presenter will be putting their feet to the fire while making it clear that these issues relate to 'England only' every now and then because he or she will have been told to. The candidates will all be fighting seats in England. Health is devolved so extending an invitation to candidates standing anywhere else would make little sense.

So should the programme be broadcast in Wales or not?

1. Yes. As long as the presenter makes it clear the issues being debated relate only to England and that how these candidates - if elected - vote will have no direct effect on health policy "where you are" in Wales. Why not? Just because you live in Wales it doesn't mean you're not interested in debates across the border in England and want to be properly informed about them.

2. Yes but the Welsh Health Minister (and Ministers from other devolved nations) should be given a lectern too and a chance to chip in on why some issues are dealt with very differently here. They could give practical examples of where a different approach has led and add to the context/debate. Just because you live in England it doesn't mean you're not interested in debates across the border in Wales and want to be properly informed about them.

3. No. It's not relevant to Wales. Showing it here would just confuse voters at a time when being clear about which policies would affect their everyday lives is crucial. They will be informed about it anyway if they read newspapers, watch network news programmes, listen to the radio, read online news reports etc.

4. No but why not broadcast a programme here with candidates standing in Wales? Voters wants to learn about their attitude to health policy even if the way they vote in Westminster doesn't directly impact on constituents in Wales.

Getting this one right? Tough, whatever you make of "where-you-are wincers" as I'll dub them. So a hint: contributions like 'None of the above - show a re-run of the Grand Slam winning match against France' aren't helpful, no matter where you are.


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