Monday, November 23, 2009

Language Apartheid?

I've always found John Redwood's former side-kick Hywel Williams an abrasive but welcome addition to the world of Welsh politics. We need such contrarian voices and his attacks on the public-purse dependency of so much of the Welsh middle class are well-aimed. At the same time his recent article on Welsh history in the Guardian is something of a damp squip. Yes, Welsh history could well do with some more revisionists, it's one of the reasons I find Robert Stradling such an interesting writer. But who exactly are these dull and introspective historians Williams castigates? He doesn't tell us and I think we should be told.

One reader who was impressed with Williams' article was Llandrindod blogger and former Liberal Democrat councillor David Peter. Indeed Mr Peter widens the debate somewhat. Devolution has led to Welsh people becoming "more introverted and self-absorbed, self-obsessed even" all at "the expense of a broader and more balanced international perspective." Now I would have thought that the Assembly concentrates on domestic matters because that is its remit. Although where it can, in education policy for example, it has looked beyond England to European models.

Turning to language issues Mr Peter identifies "a language apartheid that has been steadily constructed over the past thirty years." This is a puzzle? Is Mr Peter referring to the establishment of a Welsh TV channel perhaps, or Welsh medium education? Maybe it is the rights extended to Welsh speakers to use their language in the courts and to a limited extent in public life that provokes such an odious comparison? I had thought that the Lib Dems were in favour of devolution and language equality, or have they now been reduced to going after the Little Englander UKIP vote?

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