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Politics in the Islands: Anglesey

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Chris Mason Chris Mason | 16:15 UK time, Friday, 15 April 2011

A view of the Port of Cemaes Anglesey taken through a fence

I've spent the last week trying to speak to people on 5 live that we don't get on the radio very often. With the elections to the devolved administrations in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales coming up in less than three weeks now, I thought I would look into what people make of devolution when they live just about as far away from their national capital as it is possible to get, and still be in the country.

Earlier in the week, I reported from the Shetland Islands and from Rathlin Island, the only inhabited island off Northern Ireland. Now it's Wales's turn - and I am on Anglesey.

The Royal Wedding

A shot of a

The first thing that is striking here is conversations aren't dominated by the elections - but by the Royal wedding.

People here regard William and Kate as their own. Prince William works at RAF Valley on Anglesey and there's speculation that the couple may live here after they're married at the end of this month.

Two royal wedding tea towels in a shop window

And there is a whole range of tea towels available...

But politics on Anglesey is fascinating. One wry observer of the local political scene told me that to call Anglesey politics a dog's dinner does a disservice to man's best friend.

The Welsh Assembly has had to appoint outsiders - known as "commissioners" - to run Anglesey Council, after years of infighting. But the Welsh Assembly itself feels very distant from here. It's 200 miles away. To put that into context, it's 270 miles to London from here. So the Welsh Assembly Government subsidises an airlink between Anglesey and Cardiff. It costs taxpayers £1.2million a year. Some see it as a complete waste of public money. Others see it as a vital way of binding Wales together.

The language

A sign for a barber's shop written in English and Welsh

Many people here are very passionate about being Welsh - and speaking Welsh. Welsh can be heard, and seen, everywhere - and not just in official documents and road signs...

A shot of a cashpoint with instructions in both English and Welsh

...but also on cash machines.

It's thought around two thirds of the population here use Welsh on a day-to-day basis at home, in shops, and in the pub.

Welsh Identity
A Welsh flag flying over a row of flowering trees

There's a real sense of patriotism here on Angelsey. The Welsh flag is displayed prominantly on the island.

My island hopping adventure ends here. By the time I get to Westminster, I will have clocked up just under 2,000 miles in a week, without leaving the UK. I am struck by the different outlook on each island towards devolution.

The devolved administrations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have to wrestle with the paradoxes associated with some of their voters being very isolated from their national capital. Technology and expectations mean isolation isn't what it used to be. And yet for many it is as appealing as it ever was. The battle for devolved government to be seen as relevant on its geographical fringes hasn't been conclusively won yet.

If you've missed any bits of my trip on Drive and Up All Night, you can catch up on the BBC News website. I'll also be posting some photos of my travels on the 5 live blog. And on Twitter: @chrismasonbbc

Chris Mason is 5 live's political reporter.


  • Comment number 1.

    Haven't heard all your pieces probably. So what do all the voters of the devolved areas feel about having power over England's referendum - surely as quite a bit of England is not voting, this will sway the results of the referendum? How powerful.

  • Comment number 2.

    Haven’t many posters on here for a long time being saying 5 Live has dumbed down and there isn’t enough serious news content only to be dismissed by 5 Live blog staff as being an unrepresentative tiny minority?

    Well finally the BBC Trust seems to be taking note of 5 Live’s slide and is going to more closely monitor 5 Live to ensure it fulfils the licence requirements of 75% news content. Though there has to be a question about 5 Live regarding celebrity gossip and reality shows as news.

    Radio 5 Live to face closer scrutiny after TalkSport complaint

    Talksport challenges BBC Radio 5 Live’s 'fluffy’ news content

    ”The BBC Trust has said that there are “significant and valid” questions about the quality of Radio 5 Live’s output."

    Let’s hope something will be done about Richard Bacon, how his program can be said to be part of the 75% news content is very questionable.

  • Comment number 3.

    In reply to post 2

    Actually the trust "rejected TalkSport's complaint, saying that under the BBC's current definition of news and the way Radio 5 Live measures its output, the station is hitting its 75% news quota as outlined in its service licence"

    So instead of cherry picking things to suit your agenda, why dont you include the main facts?

  • Comment number 4.

    Fedster read the articles:

    “Senior BBC executives are understood to be privately concerned that the station has become too ‘fluffy’ featuring too many lightweight subjects such as celebrity lookalikes.”

    “While the trust did not uphold UTV’s complaint, it said that Radio 5 Live’s news programming includes “speech content which may not appear to be news-related”. The trust report said that the complaint “raises some significant and valid questions about what constitutes news on 5 Live and how broadly an individual news programme on 5 Live should go in its delivery of news”.

    Fedster of course they rejected the complaint what do you expect but surely even you in would admit the Trust saying it “raises some significant and valid questions” and deciding to carry out a review of 5 Live and more closely monitor its news output shows they accept there is an issue.

  • Comment number 5.

    So in other words 5live is adhering to its current service licence and has been cleared of any wrong doing by hitting its 75% news quota, but both talkSPORT and the Trust are nitpicking and trying to find a new definition for "about what constitutes news on 5 Live", so they are having a second bite at the cherry.

  • Comment number 6.

    Well if saying the 75% news content should be real news and not celebrity gossip and trivia is nitpicking then you are right Fedster.

    “It said programmes categorised by the BBC as "news" featured discussions of presenters' recurring nightmares, celebrity lookalikes, music reviews, listeners' irrational hatreds and irritating habits.”

  • Comment number 7.

    Yes but the point is the 75% news content is part of the service agreement, the Trust has ruled that 5live is adhering to its current service agreement, so in other words the Trust has ruled that the likes of "presenters' recurring nightmares, celebrity lookalikes, music reviews, listeners' irrational hatreds and irritating habits" are indeed part of 5lives 75% news content.

    To sum up 5live has been CLEARED OF ANY WRONG DOING.

    As AVK states "We're pleased with the BBC Trust's findings that Radio 5 Live is compliant with its service licence obligations to provide 75% of its output as news, rejecting UTV's claim that this was not the case"

  • Comment number 8.

    The BBC is judge and jury... they are hardly going to too critical of their own...

    Digital Spy has some very interesting additional information....

    TalkSport claimed that only 45-56% of 5 Live's output was news, with many items falling outside of the remit, such as "entertainment-based interviews" with the likes of comedian Alexander Armstrong and listener-generated features.

    I would think this is about right ... and I would hope that UTV would publish their findings publically and let the people decide.

    Some good news... "Next week, the Trust is scheduled to launch a review of 5 Live and 5 Live Sports Extra, which will focus on "addressing these issues and providing greater clarity".

    About time! I wonder if public submissions will be permitted, or if this is a closed internal review?

    "Published today, a report by the Trust's General Appeals Panel found that 5 Live was "compliant with its commitment that news represents around three-quarters of output each year".

    The key phrase here is "each year" ... I am sure during the election period, world cup et. al. 5Live exceeds their quota... but in a normal week it must be far lower.

    And then we have this (sit down before you read this) .. "The review will evaluate options for imposing "a more nuanced method of monitoring the proportion of news output" on 5 Live compared to the current system, which counts the whole of Richard Bacon's afternoon show as news. "

    Richard Bacon's show is classified as wholly news! Well, there's any credibility for the BBC review shot.

    Read more here: https://www.digitalspy.co.uk/broadcasting/news/a314768/bbc-trust-dismisses-5-live-news-complaint.html

  • Comment number 9.

    I am crying with laughter over that last posting from ryanw. Rav had a row with Chantelle, that is going to be on Crimewatch so will also be on Dickie's programme.........surely me and Dickie are not the only ones to know the latest news?

  • Comment number 10.

    I see the author of those articles quotes on his twitter page something alot of us have said for years:"good to see julian worricker on bbc news channel. miss him on 5 live. not every day you understand. might help with news quota"

    Could we have a place for topical news about the station please Imogen, not just latching on to blogs like this one?

  • Comment number 11.

    No matter what definition of news you use, describing Richard Bacon’s program as beings part of the news output is highly questionable. A program that devotes large parts of its content to trivial features like Help and the Moan In and yet more interviews with the same minor comedians and celebrities is not a news program. Discussions about dog poo bags and taking a toilet seat off in my opinion are not news and should not count towards required 75% news content.

    Finally the “significant and valid” questions about the quality of Radio 5 Live’s output are going to be looked at, let’s hope the dumbing down of 5 Live in the quest for ratings will be addressed.

  • Comment number 12.

    Ryan how is UTV publishing their findings going to give us an accurate,non biased picture of what is going on at 5live,they are hardly neutral advisors are they,its a bit rich for a commercial station to try and dictate what happens at a license fee funded station.

    Also its ironic that talkSPORT are complaining about 5live, when their own coverage is utter trailer park trash, with every phone in seeming to have a guest from the BNP.

    Was it not talkSPORT who tried pretending they were bringing live commentary from every game from a major football tournament, what actually was happening is they had a guy sitting in front of a TV in a London studio, shouting down a microphone, aided by some dodgy sound effects.

    .............and talkSPORT have the audacity to complain that standards are dropping at 5live!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 13.

    I expect Richard wishes the prestigious Heat magazine came out more than once a week.

    Seriously though, one of the things that concerns me is the way the news itself has mutated now in to something that is reported without any depth at all, it is read twice an hour with the news emphasis on the hour, and yet you would have to turn over on to Radio Four for one of their news programmes, or look at the BBC website, to get any real analysis of what has happened. Yes the breaking news is reported, but it is a regurgitation of facts. First the headline by the newsreader, then over to a reporter who repeats what has just been said and very little is added because whatever it is, it is ongoing.

    Drive rarely analyses, Breakfast never does because of the way it is presented. Which also reminds me of the rudeness and ill-mannered way Nicky and Shelagh behaved towards a representative of the Victuallers Association on Friday, who muddled his word a bit, they laughed and sneered afterwards and it was incredibly unprofessional.

    Naturally 5Live cannot help but present breaking news in any other way when some disaster happens, but for real news stories it would be nice to hear they had thought about it, supplied some analysis or extra information, before writing the script for the presenter or newsreader to repeat.

  • Comment number 14.

    We're not going to get into a debate about TalkSport's complaint in a comments thread of a post about Anglesey.

    The BBC Trust's consultations about 5 live and 5 live sports extra will be open to the public so you will be able to tell them any thoughts you have about both networks. There will be links to the relevant bits of the Trust website from the 5 live website.

  • Comment number 15.

    Ok thats fair enough Nigel but can you open a new blog post where we can talk about talkSPORTs complaint?

  • Comment number 16.

    Oh Nigel! I was waiting for an invention...

    How about opening a thread about this topic then? It is relevent to 5Live, topic and dare I even say newsworthy.

    It's also something many of us have been saying for a long time.

    It's not just TalkSport's complaint it's my complaint too, I'm sure Carrie's, and many others.

    Don't tell me you're not going to let 5Live be discussed on 5Live's blog?

  • Comment number 17.


    1. "Ryan how is UTV publishing their findings going to give us an accurate,non biased picture of what is going on at 5live"... firstly, I am sure UTV would have based their legimate concerns in fact, probably by reviewing a aircheck of the 5Live airtime and classifying the type of content. Oh, and I would expect UTV to be as accurate and non-biased as the BBC Trust who rejected the complaint.

    2. "Also its ironic that talkSPORT are complaining about 5live, when their own coverage is utter trailer park trash, with every phone in seeming to have a guest from the BNP." ... be that as it may, we don't pay for TalkSport, so they can do whatever they like. If it's works, if it pays, good for them, if it doesn't they will go to the wall.

    I think the TalkSport complaint is very legimate and should be discussed here.

  • Comment number 18.

    I agree with @15 and @16. On other posts there are requests to the wonderful Imogen to give us a general blog so we do NOT do what has happened on here. No need to admonish people for being frustrated by the inability to comment on topical issues to do with the station.

  • Comment number 19.

    In that case Carrie will it be OK if I ask why on earth Robbie Savage was squeaking away alongside Alan Green on the Saturday Manc semi when proper analysts like Jimmy Armfield, Graham Taylor and David Pleat were not employed?

    And have you seen the readers comments to The Guardian article on the TalkSport complaint? Not good reading for AVK.

    Just thought I'd join in.

  • Comment number 20.

    Well done Talksport I say for stirring the pot and its about time the BBC Trust showed some muscle and do what they are well paid to do and bring controllers to account.A prime example of how this station has deteriorated is employing the likes of Robbie Savage and Chris Evans for the golf when there are good journalists around who can do the job so much better and with more knowledge.I definately think that Talksport have made some valid points and further urgent scrutiny of 5live is more than welcome and preferably by an outside body with no attachments to the BBC. It is quite clear to me that news output plays second fiddle to celebrity gossip or the Jeremy Kyle type interviews of Vicky Derbyshire.How standards have fallen at 5live.

  • Comment number 21.

    I was agreeing with Fedster that there should be a talking place Jackstumps. I cannot imagine why AV-K thinks Robbie Savage is good value - would love to know how much he gets per session.

    I am so enjoying these blogs from the RJs.

  • Comment number 22.

    Many thanks to Jasmine ( post 2 ) and the links especially the ' fluffy news one ' and the tell it like it is comments by the various contributors underneath.Absolutely marvellous and lets hope the Senior BBC Execs take this station to a better place with far higher standards.VD and Bacon really taking alot of criticism.

  • Comment number 23.

    Some of those comments were pretty savage.

  • Comment number 24.

    Well I don't know if word has gotten through but Victoria Derbyshires programme this morning was one of the most interesting I have heard in a very long while.She can do serious topics extremely well if she would only ditch the trivia.Sometimes I think she wouldn't look out of place doing the Today programme on Radio 4.Anyway I emailed her show for broadcasting a really good programme.

  • Comment number 25.

    There is no doubt she is a bright woman, but she is expected to do things such as the music review, which does not suit her. I agree about her style today. I think she would have done a good job on an extended lunchtime news programme, or even taking over the phone in part of the morning.

  • Comment number 26.

    Victoria Derbyshire is wasted doing the trivial nosense and for many years on 5live she seems to be stuck in this lightweight role,if she put her mind to it and she clearly she has the intelligence to do so , she could become a really good presenter discussing serious issues.Hopefully this might be the case in the future.

  • Comment number 27.

    I thought Gabby Logan did a good job with the traveller community programme today

  • Comment number 28.

    Some of her questions had a bit of a gap after the previous answer. I did wonder if she was reading them or getting them via headphones.

  • Comment number 29.

    Another day of wall-to-wall news and interviews with the newsmakers on the 100% news programme 2pm-4pm with Richard Bacon.

    Look who's here: https://yfrog.com/gzfjmlhj

    What a joke!

  • Comment number 30.

    It's been a dream come true for 5Live since dawn when they started talking about The Only Way is Essex being nominated for some big award.

    Go out in the sun ryanw and forget Dickie.

  • Comment number 31.

    News, news, news... not even trying to conceal it on the Bacon show...

    On today's programme, a man who's had a ridiculous life, not our words - Russell Brand joins Richard on the programme and last night saw the premier of his new film, Arthur.

    Plus, comedian, magician and star of Channel 4's Campus - Andy Nyman is on the programme. Richard will also be joined by another comedian - Olivia Lee.

    And since it's Wednesday, we'll have our regular feature, The Moan-In.

  • Comment number 32.

    @ Ryanw more in the Guardian today:

    “Station steps up attack on rival with survey suggesting listeners do not think shows such as Richard Bacon's are news output.”


  • Comment number 33.

    Thanks Dom, it's a very interesting read.

    I think the tide is going out of the Controller's big personality push. When you consider how much Sport is on 5Live AND that there is a requirement to have 75% as news programming it beggars belief there is so much time in the schedule seems to be devoted to trival rubbish.

  • Comment number 34.

    Gosh I could have written the last one posted on that column myself! (@32)

  • Comment number 35.

    The BBC Trust consultation on 5Live and 5Live Sports Extra is open...


    There is an online survey to complete and submissions are welcome.

  • Comment number 36.

    Thanks for that Ryan, just filled it in!!!

    However i cannot see a date when the results will be published,have i missed it?

  • Comment number 37.

    Fedster, in the fine print it says the findings will be published in "Winter 2011".

    Disappointing that no-one from 5Live has deemed it important enough to post a message or advice online about this review.

    I wonder why?

  • Comment number 38.

    Fedster, here are the dates for you --

    20 April Review begins – Public consultation launches

    April – July Trust gathers evidence from the BBC Executive, public
    consultation, audience research, performance analysis

    20 April 2011 2and other sources.

    13 July Public consultation closes

    Autumn 2011 Trust Unit analyses data and prepares report

    Winter 2011 Publication

  • Comment number 39.

    Ok, thanks for that Ryan.

  • Comment number 40.

    Maybe this will get Nigel on to making a blog about it - Or Imogen, although she seems to have disappeared after that spurt of positivity she injected.

    Have done my answers too. If my answers could wield any power, weekend sport would be a bit different.............

  • Comment number 41.

    Just heard an advert for it on Gabby's programme where, incidentally, she started introducing a piece about Gerard Houllier but started laughing about something to do with Riley. Gerard Houllier deserves a bit more respect than that under the circumstances.

  • Comment number 42.

    Surprise, surprise... the twitterati were told via the 5Live Twitter channel about 5live review by the BBC Trust and provided a link to the online submission...

    Meanwhile, nothing on the official website or blog. I KNEW it would have been promoted on Twitter even though the blog and website have been ignored.

    This is just typical. Despite official comments to the contrary, Twitter is preferred to the website for many communications AND the website is often ignored.


    Nigel and Imogen seem to have disappeared too.

    Here's the tweet: https://twitter.com/

  • Comment number 43.

    I see the Consultation is now mentioned on the 5Live home page. Better late than never I guess.

  • Comment number 44.

    I've done my duty as a citizen and 5live listener and filled in the online survey.Wasn't it great to hear Eleanor Oldroyd and Peter Allen doing Drive together ? This is how it should be all the time on 5live.

  • Comment number 45.

    @ryanw - the link to the Trust's site on our homepage was there within an hour of that tweet being sent. Only a small minority of our audience are monitoring the website and twitter feeds on a minute-by-minute basis. Does it really matter which was first? We put it on Twitter first because it's quicker and easier. The public consultation is open until July and we will do all we can to encourage listeners to participate.

  • Comment number 46.

    Somehow or other the tweet does not seem to carry the authority and seriousness of the invitation to join in the consultation that the home page piece does. Except for the me-me-brained twitterati that is.

  • Comment number 47.

    Nigel, I think the review needs to be given more prominence on the home page.

  • Comment number 48.

    You appear to have forgotten to include The Celtic Nation And Duchy Of Cornwall in your intinerary, Chris. Perhaps you will correct that glaring omission in the very near future.
    These should assist you with more accurate, comprehensive and, with a bit of luck and a fair wind, comprehending navigation:

  • Comment number 49.

    Intresting points by Jonthan Wall:

    We do light and shade. Our most experienced journalist, Peter Allen, can be in Cairo one minute describing the scenes at the fall of president Mubarak, and the next he could be inviting text messages from listeners telling jokes to cheer up motorists stuck in traffic. It's what we do. We have a warm and conversational style on our news programmes that we think is unique to us.

    News, for us, can also mean interviews with celebrities, be it Katie Price criticising Frankie Boyle or Ricky Gervais on his performance at the Golden Globes. It can even mean a debate about the latest EastEnders storyline or X Factor controversy. We are not embarrassed about it – we like the fact we can take our listeners from politics to film reviews, and from Cairo to Coronation Street. Decisions we have made recently including a new politics show for John Pienaar, a business show for Declan Curry, and a Sunday morning show for Laura Kuenssberg starting in July, highlight how serious we are about journalism.


    So for all the posters on here moaning about 5lives coverage of Celebrities and Inviting Listeners to Text in their favourite Chocolate, Jonthan Wall has said 5live is not "embarrassed about it"

    Sums it all up for me

  • Comment number 50.

    sums it up for me to, that's why i dont listen anymore.

  • Comment number 51.

    Interesting Fedster... what a shame that such a clear articulation of the editorial line has not been shared on these pages but instead with the Guardian.

    It will be very interesting to see the results of the BBC Trust's evaluation and the very liberal interpretation of news .... "News, for us, can also mean interviews with celebrities".

    Such a shame that a great radio station is being gradually destroyed.

    As an aside, are Controllers appointed on fixed terms, or do they have jobs for life or leave?


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