Y Barcud Oren #4

Greetings from a less-than-snowy Cardiff, where the lack of meteorological chaos has allowed the business of devolution to continue unabated. More’s the pity…

Power To The Pobl

The big news is, of course, that the Welsh Language LCO is upon us. To the uninitiated (and, indeed, most of the initiated) it might seem strange that Welsh language powers aren’t already devolved, but that would be to assume that the current devolution settlement was designed with … well, anything really.

Not that the LCO does anything like devolving Welsh language powers anyway. Instead, it spends three pages caveating its way around the place. Then again, in the world of the One Wales Government, where generation of heat is all important, such caveating was vital to ensure that everyone bloviated on their hot potatoes.

On the right, even the Daily Mail jumped to the aid of the comic villain of the piece, the ever-confusingly named David Davies MP. Davies, the Tory member for Monmouth who makes Sir Bufton Tufton look many things (intelligent, tolerant, sane…), opposes any expansion of obligatory Welsh language provision to private enterprise, one of the key battlegrounds in this field. In fairness to him, it is a constituency issue; he does represent the mythical Chepstow chippy (the obligatory cliché that exposes, as much as anything else, the linguistic limitations of all the journalists who’ve failed to spot the alliteration…)

But the bigger political question in all this is whether it goes far enough to get Plaid off the hook. With their core constituency already alienated by failures like the daily newspaper, Plaid need the Welsh language LCO to be a big hit. Early indications, such as the reaction from Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg, are that it’s difficult to be totemic when you’re trying to please everyone.

The Curious Case Of The Spokesperson In The Night-Time

There can be few less eventful events than a reshuffle in the spokesperson team of a minority coalition partner; I mean, who especially cares what the spokesperson thinks when their party has pledged allegiance to the other party’s Minister?

With Plaid, however, it does matter. Since joining the government eighteen months ago, Plaid’s backbenchers have established a unique constitutional settlement with the government their party belongs to, a settlement that basically amounts to “this Plaid is fictitious and any resemblance to Plaids that are members of the government coalition is entirely coincidental.” That being the case, in an Assembly sufficiently small that almost everyone is a spokesperson, the dividing line between the real and the fictional is a little more important.

And so to the case of Janet Ryder, who last week resigned as Plaid education spokesperson. As Freedom Central recounts, the chain of events was pretty strange; having voted for a number of government-opposed amendments to the Learning and Skills Measure in a committee meeting, she disappeared at the tea break, shortly after which her committee papers were retrieved by the Plaid whip. A week later, not only was she not the spokesperson, she wasn’t even on the committee.

Eventually, news of the resignation emerged, with Ryder claiming unhappiness at the lack of progress in improving the measure. As for the strange events in the committee room, however, explanation came there none, perhaps because of the perverse lack of journalistic interest in the matter. Either way, for all the pundits talk of cracks in the One Wales agreement, it seems clear that the real cracks will open where we least expect them to.

* Gareth Aubrey is a councillor in Cardiff and blogs at Long Despairing Young Something.

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5 Comments

  • “opposes any expansion of obligatory Welsh language provision to private enterprise”

    Any sensible person would! Imposing a duty on private enterprise to cater for the Welsh Language imposes increased costs at a time when firms are already going under, and makes wales a very uncompetitive place to do business. Why is it that only big business like BT make provision at the moment? Because they are the only one’s that can afford to.

    This is an ideal that if fully implimented flies in the face of common sense. It’s ideology over pragmatism and there is no argument for it.

    Seriously, how can any sane minded individual justify the imposition of increased cost to business during a time of recession – a time when we should be trying to enable business to hold on to as many jobs as they possibly can.

    Silly season has arrived.

  • The question is, where should the powers to legislate over the welsh language be held, London or Wales?

    Of course, its much easier for the likes of ‘John’ and David Davies to argue with a straw man.

  • John –

    So, basically, you’re saying that the requirement which applies to statutory bodies in relation to the Welsh language shouldn’t apply to private companies?

    Does that include private companies which have taken over formerly “public sector” activities? Water, gas, electricity, transport?

  • @crewegwyn

    That’s exactly what i’m saying.

    Imposing such obligations on private companies imposes an increased cost of doing business in Wales, and to impliment such a plan during a recession (or depression even) is ridiculous.

    Those that can afford to do this already are btw.

    Can you imagine the implications? Unless you are looking to provide a service specifically to the welsh people (which most business’s aren’t), then it’s much more cost effective to head for England and Scotland than it is to head to Wales.

    Also, existing business’s looking to relocate now have an added incentive to relocate to just the other side of the border.

    The aim should be to make Wales as competitive as possible so that the Economy and the people of Wales benefit from investment and jobs. This becomes even more essential in a recession. Therefore, increasing the cost of doing business in Wales compared with Scotland or England is pure lunacy.

    It’s the pursuit of an ideal that flies in the face of common sense, particularly during a recession/depression.

    Ideal’s are great, we all have them, but to pursue them even when doing so would cause harm is irresponsible.

  • So the powers should remain in London, to protect Wales from the Welsh??

    If the Welsh Assesmbly should powers over anything, Welsh has to be near the top off the list!

    Are we to be trusted with health and education but not our own langauge? If the LCO comes through, the assembly is unlikley to get anything through before 2010, provided they want to that is.

    John – where do you think the powers to legislate about the welsh language should be, London or Wales? That is the issue here.

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