Friday, 8 February 2008

From the Heritage Bunker (Episode 6)

Minister: Ah, Sir Humphrey. I don't quite understand what we're doing about the establishment of a daily newspaper in Welsh.

Sir Humphrey: What exactly do you not understand, Minister?

Minister: Well, the group which has been working on the project for some years says that it will take at least £600,000 a year to get it up and running, yet the statement that you gave me to read in the Assembly says we’re only making £200,000 available.

Sir Humphrey: Indeed, Minister. But you will remember that we commissioned an independent consultant to report on the situation, and he raised a number of doubts about the business plan.

Minister: The consultant only told me what you had told me already.

Bernard: That’s what consultants do, Minister. They come and talk to the people involved, listen to what they say, and then write it down and report back to us.

Minister: So why have a consultant at all?

Bernard: Because people believe what an expert says, whatever it is.

Minister: If there are doubts about the business plan, I still don't understand how giving them only a third of what they asked for solves the problem.

Sir Humphrey: We’re not giving them anything, Minister. We’re making a sum of money available to anyone who can make a success of the project. There could be all sorts of other people interested, and competition for the funds will bring forward more realistic business plans.

Minister: So are there really other people interested, who could do it for even less than people who have spent years researching the project?

Sir Humphrey: Highly unlikely, Minister.

Minister: So what have we achieved?

Sir Humphrey: Well, Minister, you have honoured the pledge you gave when you entered government, that you would make money available for a newspaper.

Minister: But we don’t know that there will even be a newspaper yet.

Sir Humphrey: Of course not, Minister. But you didn’t say you would establish one, just that you would make funding available. And you have.

Minister: But the funding probably isn't enough.

Bernard: Probably not, Minister, but you’re already saved £400,000, and if no-one can do it within the funds available, you’ll save another £200,000.

Sir Humphrey: Bernard! Look on it as a process of negotiation, Minister. They asked for at least £600,000, and you have suggested that someone else will do it for £200,000. I'm sure that they'll come back with a revised business plan somewhere in between, and we'll eventually come to some sort of agreement. The first bid is always for more than really needed.

Minister: But isn't there a danger that we will have an unrealistic business plan to match the amount of money available, which simply means that the project will get into financial difficulties?

Sir Humphrey: Almost certainly, Minister. That’s the way of things. In a year or two’s time, they’ll be in deep trouble, and will come to you looking for a rescue package.

Minister: So I’ll be the Minister who oversees the setting up of a newspaper. And I'll also be the Minister who rescues them when they get into trouble! Just like with the Millennium Centre and the Botanic Gardens?

Sir Humphrey and Bernard: Yes, Minister.


Miss Wagstaff said...

This series of your is hilarious. If I hear 'robust business plan' once more I'll scream.

Anonymous said...

its a good idea and Y Byd should go ahead but its sad to see that even in Northern Ireland with all their political problems that the Irish speakers are more willing to support an Irish language newspaper than those Welsh speakers in Wales supporting a daily welsh language paper, say a lot about us in Wales.

Valleys Mam said...

Lets get our English paper robust first
Business Plans they dont know what a Business Plan is - if they did the blooming white elephants wouldnt have been funded in the first place

johnny foreigner said...

Will somebody please tell Cymdeithas that the 'dead tree press' is dying.

Newspaper circulations are in freefall and they want to start another one.

Oh silly me! It's to be in Welsh and publicly funded, so that's alright then.

Is there no end to these people's arrogance. They've asked for £600,000 of my money without a single care as to the viability of this publication so long as they get their way.

I can just imagine the scene:

"Give uth the money or we'll thcweam and thcweam until we make ourselves thick."

They'll be telling us next that it's to support Welsh 'culture'.

They're probably right, as this is just another example of why Wales will never lose its culture of living on public handouts.

Your pal.


Anonymous said...

If we didn't already know the welsh blogsphere is full of paid party political hacks reporting on message from Head Quarters every day, just look at the welsh blogsphere this week, its half term in Cardiff Bay and Westminster and all but a handful are regularly updating and debating the issues that matter for Welsh Public and raising issue that the media often ignore, even BBC Wales Political Editor and Westminster reporter are on holidays, the rest of Wales is carrying on without them.

If our politicians, political parties and civil servants don't take the National Assembly for Wales seriously, why should the rest of Wales care?

Ceredig said...

Miss Wagstaff,

Why thank you. If I can keep just one person mildly amused… But seriously, you’re right about the ‘business plan’ jargon. And what’s even more worrying, I agree with Valleys Mam that most of those who read them don’t really understand them anyway. Or perhaps don't really challenge them very hard - hence the Millennium Centre, the Botanical Gardens...

Anon 13:40,

I’m currently agnostic on the issue of whether it should go ahead or not. The key question is the one you identify – will it have enough readers to justify it or not? The amount of subsidy being requested suggests, sadly, that it would not. But they knew that when they put the commitment into One Wales, and the issue that interests me most is how and why people make commitments, knowing the implications, and then break them.


I’m not convinced that the ‘dead tree press’ is dying overall, but its ‘market share’ is certainly in decline. The problem that anyone launching a new paper both on paper and electronically faces is that no-one has yet worked out how to make money out of the alternative electronic press.

Anon 13:09,

Not entirely sure that I understand your point – but I am no paid hack!