In our latest guest post, our “Welsh correspondent” Marcus Warner gives us his view on the election media game in Wales – and how it differs markedly from what we see in Scotland.  He has a Wales-specific election blog up and running for the next 2 weeks – somewhere you should stop by if you have an interest in the Welsh election as well.

Too many of us who follow politics seem to have a love/hate relationship (often the case with symbiotic relationships) with the media. We continually bemoan the standard of reporting; the gossip>policy axis; the media bubble outrage and the downright inaccurate bias that we often see. But in one fell swoop we can fall right behind a media outlet who supports our cause or even scores a hit on our opponents.

Unfortunately in Wales we have none of those things happening. Wales must be one of the few democratic countries with such a media deficit (perhaps a bit of hyperbole but stay with me). We are about the only country that on the day we hold a referendum on the future Governance of our country we are treated to wall-to-wall coverage of the Barnsley by-election (and not even a competitive one at that). Question Time in Newport – a few months before a referendum and election in Wales and a question about who John Terry was shagging? Yes, exactly what we need.

In a fluid and less political world, old certainties can appear to be melting away. However, with the time a voter might spend considering whom to vote for shrinking, the media plays an ever more vital role. In Wales we are being let down democratically by our media landscape. Those that do try – BBC Wales, The Western Mail, S4C and a few of the regional papers are not really the problem. However, it is not talking them down to say that most welsh people don’t watch or read those outlets.

I look on with very green eyes at the situation in Scotland. While not perfect I am sure, and with my limited knowledge the source of this view, at least the Scottish media tell the story through Scottish eyes. You have Scottish newspapers that matter and matter about devolved politics. Wales’ media lens is focused on London, so much so that Unionist parties don’t bother to even have a debate on Welsh issues. Labour’s poll rating in Wales is very high, but their central message is that voting for them will ‘send a message to David Cameron and Nick Clegg’. After 12 years in power and with a law making £16billion a year budget, is that the best we can do?

The simple fact is that the lack of media clout means that the Welsh General Election has been relegated to a Westminster mid-term and a news item on the UK news just before the squirrel who can water ski –“And finally…”.

Many commentators have bemoaned the lack of original ideas in all four parties manifestos – or perhaps that should be five, with the Greens in Wales poised for a potential gain in South Wales Central. I am biased – but I would say Plaid’s ‘Build for Wales’ is a radical way of not using PFI in straightened economic times. But I believe this is also the effect of having so very little media scrutiny that plays with the voters. The simple fact is that the Welsh public consume London media, it would take an earthquake in Wales for it to really register in that sphere, therefore they carry unaware of the Welsh nature of this election.

The news that the Scottish Sun is coming out for Salmond has left me buzzing from over here – firstly, because I want Scotland to vote SNP in their droves; but secondly because I can only begin to imagine how great it would be for something like to get national media coverage and reach into the living rooms of the voters that decide elections.

No doubt commenters will perhaps shoot me down (I do plead ignorance) about how bad the Scottish media is and how it also has a London focus. However, the Western Mail, the only ‘national’ newspaper in Wales, is read by less than 30,000 people and is very M4 corridor (probably Cardiff) centric. Viewers/listeners of the BBC will be pummelled about the AV referendum, while we will get the odd news item gazing from London at us poor, public sector Celts.

I will finish with an anecdote. My sister’s son was having a first birthday party for her son.  My sister’s stepfather approached me after introduction saying “So you are into politics aren’t you? What do you think about this vote we are having in May?” Just as I was about to answer about the Welsh General Election, he says that “I think any change to the voting system is a good thing, so I am going to vote for AV…” (and to be fair continued in an informed manner), I politely said “I will vote Yes, although I prefer PR, the most important vote is the Welsh General Election…” He looked at me puzzled as if he had no idea what I was on about.

With the Welsh Fourth Estate in such a state, count your Scottish chickens lucky.