Also from 1995: Tories Reject Report on Poverty in Wales as ‘Communist Propaganda’

Just below the article on Peter Lilley’s commissioning of the American private disability insurance firm, Unum, to assist in their slashing of disability benefit in the 16th July 1995 issue of Private Eye was another piece. This reported the rejection of an officially commissioned report into Welsh rural poverty by the junior Welsh Minister, Rod Richards, simply because it told him something he didn’t want to hear. Foot’s piece went:

For Richards or Poorer

When civil servants in Wales heard that a survey on English rural life was being carried out by a team headed by Professor Paul Cloke of University College, Lampeter, Wales, they decided to ask the professor if he would do a similar job for rural Wales.

The professor obliged. He and his team sent out 1,000 questionnaires with exactly the same questions they had sent to 3,000 people in England. The answers were analysed and the report compiled in exactly the same way. The three sponsoring bodies – the Welsh Office, the Welsh Development Agency and the Development Board for Rural Wales – worked closely with Cloke’s team, and when the report was produced last year the Welsh Office indicated that it would soon be published by the government, as the English report had been.

They reckoned without Rod “The Rod” Richards MP, the eccentric junior Welsh minister who learned his politics in the intelligence services. Richards was outraged when he read the report’s very mild conclusion that 30 per cent of the people of rural Wales are living in poverty.

The report wasn’t published and the Welsh Office politely says: “We weren’t happy with the research.” Officials there are embarrassed by the truth – that Rod Richards regarded the whole exercise as communist propaganda.’

It’s almost like the stereotypical image of a Conservative – a fierce reactionary decrying anything that doesn’t present capitalism as absolutely perfect as ‘communist propaganda’. Faced with ministers like this, it’s no surprise that an increasing number of Welsh people want devolution.

Rod Richards

Rod Richards in 1995. The protector of the Welsh peasantry against exploitation in Communist propaganda.

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