The Paper Trail

From Planet 219

Mike Parker gives his account of the controversial Cambrian News distortion of his 2001 article in Planet, and is troubled by what this episode tells us about the media and the politics of race today.

No writer can really into go into politics, for they quite literally have a paper trail.’ The silky drawl sliding from my car radio is that of Michael Ignatieff, author and one time regular BBC pundit who was lured back to his native Canada in the early part of this century to become a Liberal MP. Within three years, he was leader of the party, taking it to disastrous defeat in the 2011 general election, when they lost well over half of their seats, Ignatieff’s included, and their status as the official opposition. He bowed out of politics just as swiftly as he had jumped in.

He ruefully calls his brief political career ‘hubris’ and ‘self-deception’, particularly for thinking that difficult topics he had written about long before would be treated considerately in the harsh glare of politics. His words sizzle into my brain. After all, I’m on the road to yet another political meeting in a distant corner of Ceredigion, where I’m standing as the Plaid Cymru candidate for the 2015 general election. I’ve been scratching a living as a writer for over twenty years. I have a very long paper trail.

Six months earlier, in June 2013, at the first campaign meeting after my selection, I’d asked everyone to prepare what they thought were likely to be the pros and cons in the eyes of the electorate of both me as the Plaid candidate, and my main opponent, the incumbent Liberal Democrat MP. Fully expecting a rigorous inquisition about my writing, instead the only three drawbacks identified about me are ‘the gay thing’, as it is decorously put, that I live just over the county border and the fact that I have an ear-ring...

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