The recent Welsh Assembly election campaign in Caerphilly brought home to me just how biased are most of the newspapers in Wales.
The Western Mail (at one time known as the Coalowners’ paper) and the South Wales Echo both display pro-Nationalist and anti-Labour bias. Fortunately, the same cannot be said of the BBC.
From time to time I dislike the BBC’s coverage of this, that and the other, but in most cases a real effort is made to be objective and professional.
This is true of the BBC in Britain, but it is especially true about the BBC World Service. The World Service is a well-respected British institution that promotes British values of democracy and fairness across the globe, and it has a reputation exceed by none. It is truly a British “jewel in the crown”.
It is therefore extremely disappointing that the Government are making 60% cuts in the service.
The service to India is being stopped, as is the Service for most of China, the Balkans and the Caribbean. The service to the Middle East and North Africa is also being cut back, even though this part of the world needs objective and fair journalism more than ever before.
Last week I was responding on behalf of the opposition to a special debate on the future of the World Service. After pressure from Labour, the Government has agreed to review some of its cuts.
But although we might win a few concessions, I am under no illusions that the Government will continue with its cuts programme even though undermining the World Service is a “false economy”.
Early last week I travelled to Serbia with the Westminster Foundation for Democracy. The purpose of my visit was to assess how democracy was developing in that country and to make recommendations about modest practical assistance. Serbia has, until now, been covered by the World Service and, as one journalist said to me, a whole generation of Serbians have relied on the BBC for truthful and unbiased reporting. Sadly, Serbia is one of the countries to be cut, even though democracy is far from fully developed.
Labour MP for Caerphilly