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Saturday, August 23, 2003

Councillor Jeff Jones

It seems that even when trying to make a serious point there are opportunists that will try and turn it on its head, misinterpret it completely and then attack you on the basis of the distortion they have concocted. Hence there was a letter in the Western Mail this morning from the Leader of Bridgend County Borough Council claiming that my quoting of the NACRO Cymru report on this website concerning substance misuse in Rhondda Cynon Taff, was an attempt to discredit Welsh Rugby. It seems that Councillor Jeff Jones deals with everything on a personal level. he labelled opponents of the Island Farm development in Bridgend "vermin", and he launched into a personal slanging match on camera with the author of a website on the history of Hut 9 on that site. He dislikes me and the Welsh Liberal Democrats so much that sometimes it appears that he would argue that black was white purely because I had asserted the opposite. Still nice to know he reads my website.

As for the letter, Jeff Jones is fond of attacking the messenger but in doing so he turned his point on cheap drink into cheap politicking and given the impression that he does not care about the domestic violence emanating from alcohol abuse. The linking of domestic violence to international rugby matches was not of course made by me. The report I quoted on my website was not mine nor did I have any input into it. I did not attack Welsh Rugby nor does the article on the website constitute such an attack. Indeed I was careful to try and not to quote out of context, writing about the increasing cultural problem facing some South Wales Valleys in terms of bingeing on both alcohol and drugs.

Councillor Jones is right about one of the causes of binge drinking being the availability of cheap alcohol. However, it goes deeper than that, it is deeply ingrained in the British culture. Rhondda Cynon Taff Police used the rugby analogy to make a point but, as I have said to reporters and others who have asked me about this report, rugby does not stand alone in this and in fact there was an element of unfairness in singling out this game alone. Binge drinking is associated with Friday and Saturday nights, most sporting events and many other occasions including hen and stag nights. It is not the event that is the problem it is the mentality that "getting off your face" is both hard and the cool thing to do. If we are to tackle alcohol abuse and reduce the level of violent crime accordingly then we have to deal with that culture and educate people away from the idea that prowess in holding ones alcohol (or not) is a suitable goal in life. It is not.

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