Jeremy Paxman's hostility to all things Celtic, Scottish and Welsh is notorious, but he met his match in a formidable Welshman, Dr. Eurfyl ap Gwilym, Welsh Plaid Cymru politician, and Deputy Chairman of the Principality Building Society.
Paxman had his usual simple and deeply superficial agenda when dealing with Welsh or Scottish nationalists - portray them as mendicants, dependent on British handouts, happy to take the English shilling while aspiring to romantic and unrealistic dreams of independence.
Paxman's repertoire includes repetition of his core questions, usually yes/no-type questions, a patronising manner that rapidly descends into bullying if he meets any resistance, and rapid, brutal agenda shifts if he encounters real arguments he can't handle.
Unfortunately for him, none of these worked with the well-informed, dignified and calmly assertive Eurfyl, who was not going to be intimidated by an English media creature who manifestly had not done his homework. In spite of the fact that Paxman had the Treasury report that he had misunderstood and was misquoting from in front of him and Dr. Eurfyl didn't, he was reduced to muttering incoherence, shuffling his papers with increasing agitation as the magisterial Welshman repeatedly put him on the back foot with a series of killer-diller ripostes.
The received wisdom for many years has been that politicians facing the Paxman's of this world should be polite to the point of obsequiousness, allowing the interruptions, and giving way to the bullying. This is inculcated in politicians by their spin doctors - don't alienate the media man, we need his goodwill. It is a craven posture, one that has devalued political debate, turning into a kind of Ladybird Book of Politics, with simplistic soundbites and superfical policy statements.
Dr. Eurfyl ap Gwilym would have none of it. He maintained his calm, unruffled dignity, rooted in his being a successful businessman, in command of his facts, and a pragmatic realists, albeit one with a dream of Welsh independence. He disposed of the dragon Paxman without breaking intellectual sweat, and without losing his impeccable Welsh dignity and courtesy for a second. Paxman's behavioural body gloss flaked off, and the curtain was whipped away from the Wizard of Newsnight, revealing an ill-prepared and ultimately deeply ill-at-ease little man behind the bluster and the bravado.
He got a Welsh sword right up his ****, and in the words of Corporal Jones, he didn’t like it up ‘im …