Eddie Mair had a good go at Vince Cable on Radio 4’s PM programme yesterday evening about the Lib Dems’ u-turn on student fees.
As you can hear if you listen to the broadcast, he went so far as to accuse the minister of ‘welshing’ on his promise to students before the election. ‘I have not welshed on my promise,’ was Cable’s reply.
I’ve blogged about this before, but am still amazed to hear otherwise careful broadcasters (and others) use such a derogatory national stereotype without any qualms.
I e-mailed the programme and received the following reply from Eddie Mair:
Sometimes things come out of my mouth that are stupid and wrong. I try to avoid it but on this occasion I failed. I am sorry. Rest assured the mistake was just that, and certainly not intended to offend.
Each time I hear this use of the term, I’m reminded of the old rhyme ‘Taffy was a Welshman’, which has him as a thief, a sham and a cheat – don’t tell me that’s unconnected with the term ‘welshing’:
Taffy was a Welshman, Taffy was a thief;
Taffy came to my house and stole a piece of beef;
I went to Taffy’s house, Taffy wasn’t in;
I jumped upon his Sunday hat and poked it with a pin.
Taffy was a Welshman, Taffy was a sham;
Taffy came to my house and stole a piece of lamb;
I went to Taffy’s house, Taffy was away,
I stuffed his socks with sawdust and filled his shoes with clay.
Taffy was a Welshman, Taffy was a cheat,
Taffy came to my house, and stole a piece of meat;
I went to Taffy’s house, Taffy was not there,
I hung his coat and trousers to roast before a fire.