Delilah: No forgiveness, no excuses

Jade Mills had been moving on with her life after she split up with Russell March. In August 2021, after an evening spent with her family and friends, she went to bed, apparently cheerful and optimistic for her future. March, eaten up by resentment, could not tolerate Jade’s ability to live without him. So, he killed her.

Summing up the case, at Mold County Court, the judge told March, ‘You sneaked upstairs where the victim was, not before going and telling your son that their mum had kissed another man. You had armed yourself with a knife from the kitchen before going upstairs. You wanted to make [her] suffer.’

There is no doubt that Jade suffered. Her last moments on earth were filled with blind panic, startled out of sleep, stabbed repeatedly then strangled to death. Defensive wounds to her body indicate that she struggled helplessly for her life. For her four children, and her loving family, their memories of a woman they loved are forever entangled with their knowledge of her bloody and violent end.

For anyone who sees the humanity of the woman at the heart of this case, this story is a tragedy. A jealous man, besotted with a woman, infuriated by a kiss, who hurls himself into murderous rage. But similar narratives play out in popular culture as entertainment – specifically in the raucous, flamenco-inflected Delilah, as sung by the quintessential Valley-boy-made-good, Pontypridd’s very own Tom Jones.

Despite its horrific content, Delilah remains a familiar sound on the last train home from Cardiff and at community sing-alongs (including, shockingly, in junior schools) – a list which included, until recently, being sung by the choir at Welsh Rugby. In 2015, it was finally taken off the set-list, due to Welsh Rugby Union’s increased sensitivity to the risks of domestic violence.

Male jealousy has always been deadly to women. There is enough misogyny in our male-dominated culture that  nurtured Marsh’s sense of entitlement to Jade’s life, from Othello to Eminem. The grim truth is, men have murdered women they claimed to love long before Delilah first charted in 1968, and will likely continue to do so after Tom Jones is long dead and Delilah is long, and thankfully, forgotten.

But Delilah’s small contribution to our misogynist culture is not the only reason to ban it from being heard in the stands. How do the lyrics of Delilah sound to the children of Jade Mills, to her loving brother, to her parents? What feelings do they bring to all the other friends, relatives and loved ones of the three women a week who are killed by men in England and Wales? What trauma do they summon up for women who have escaped men like Marsh by the skin of their teeth, and who are still living with the aftermath of abuse? What, in the end, does it say to women and girls living in Wales, when Delilah is part of the soundtrack to acts of communal and national solidarity like Welsh Rugby matches?

Tom Jones himself has no qualms on the topic, resisting the removal of the song from the playlist. He said

I think if they’re looking into the lyric about a man killing a woman, it’s not a political statement. It’s just something that happens in life that it’s [a] woman [who] was unfaithful to him and he just loses it.

This entirely skirts the fact that the collective singing that makes Tom Jones feel ‘proud to be Welsh’ features the murder of a woman as a form of mass entertainment.

Like the protagonist of Delilah who waits, barricaded with the corpse of his victim until ‘they come to break down the door’, Russell March awaited his arrest, explaining to the police he had ‘done something horrible.’ Delilah’s murderer finally begs for forgiveness from his victim, yet even at this point continues to make self-pitying excuses: ‘Forgive me Delilah, I just couldn’t take any more.’

Male violence is horrible. It is not ‘something that happens in life’; it is a crime that terrorises women and children. It is not apolitical; it is fundamental to the historic inequality between the sexes. And it is certainly not a fun sing-along for all the family. Those that condone the murder of women as harmless entertainment need to learn to sing a new song – because there are no excuses, and there can be no forgiveness, for male violence against women.


Jo has a PhD in criminology with specific expertise in harmful traditional practices, and was formerly a graphic designer for several national publications.

Ali has extensive knowledge and expertise on the VAWDASV agenda, and has worked in the sector for 25 years. She is a qualified and registered social worker and has gained the Welsh Government’s Group 5 accreditation for VAWDASV Service Managers.

Together, they created A Best Friend’s Handbook, to support girls help each other deal with male violence, relationship problems and other issues affecting girls and young women.

Follow A Best Friend’s Handbook on TwitterInstagram and Facebook.