a blog on Welsh language policy

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at gmail.com
Tue May 13 14:38:15 UTC 2008

The great benefit I see in blogging is not the virtual soapbox it
gives you to impart your wisdom on the world (well, the 50 people the
who read welsh political blogs), but the fact that it is a forum to
not only give my own views but see them challenged and in turn amend
them accordingly. What was so enticing about 'The Future of Socialism'
by Tony Crosland was its commitment to being revisionist and taking
agreed values but amending them to the time you are currently in.
Political and societal realities change, even electoral realities have
a part to play, but one thing this blog will never be is an ideas
factories that will stick dogmatically to a view regardless of
reasoned debate. For me, ideas should be fluid, not without substance,
but not stuck in stodgy dogma. If I see a well argued idea or view, I
will take it on board, digest it with a view to injecting into my
fermenting of views.

So, what is he waffling on about I hear you ask? well I feel that
there is much to chew on regarding my posts on the welsh language;
including me needing to take on board some of the different views (not
attempts at 'witty' comments from some) and considering my own. I
think firstly, as is always the case, I have been slightly
misrepresented, deliberately by some, others are my own fault. I
honestly believe I am a far better 'post' writer than 'comment'
writer, that is not because I do not like my view challenged, but
because I am often too hasty and too prickly to take the time to
think. In person I believe I am far more likely to show my true
colours and be more thoughtful and diplomatic.

Moving forward, I think there will always be people looking to go
after me, I accept that; I have been called 'a kid', a 'Anti-Welsh
Labourite' (something like that anyway) as well as being challenged
with some very thoughtful and pretty convincing opposing arguments. I
think there will always be 'truths' that can never be decided within
debates, that is the ebb and flow, the lifeblood of political debate.
I want to make clear a few points on the welsh language, because I
think through my own lack of skill in expressing my views, and some
baying for blood from others I haven't been clear enough.

• The overriding point I wanted to make was that in the comments
section I was rehearsing arguments I have heard many times, I feel
that although I may not agree with those views sometimes, there
deserves to be an honest debate.
• I was the first year in school to ever be taught welsh at year 7
level, I threw myself into learning the language, got myself an a* no
less only to be frustrated by the simple lack of avenues for me to
learn further and develop the language.
• S4C- my point was about Rhodri Glyn Thomas not wanting to devolve
it, and also I have yet to hear any of the posters on my blog answer
the 'most subsidised, per viewer, channel in the world' point. I was
in no way advocating it being abolished or losing public subsidy, but
I cannot believe the WAG are demanding a welsh language LCO but not
for S4C.
• Ultimately I am calling for a debate on where we go with welsh
language policy, One Wales, indeed all politicians will tell you they
want 'a bi-lingual' society, but that simply will not happen. Firstly
because people haven't the inclination, and secondly because the cost
to try and implement that will be great. I am happy the WAG supports
the welsh language, I am less happy about the fact that there is no
questioning about whether it is prudent to merely carrying on
investing more and more.
• Also, my ire was directed at the 'economic' point- the welsh
language doesn't have an economic benefit in terms of us competing,
that in turn does not mean I think everything has to be 'economically'
beneficial to be correct.
• However, the one gentleman's comment about the economy of S4C in
terms of the local media companies that survive because of S4C's grant
is one I haven't considered, and I am glad to say it is a very good
point. Like I said, job done.
• Ultimately I think that 'linguistic diversity' is a two way street,
I think to impose a language policy that is about compulsion on a
wales-wide basis is not correct because there are massive amounts of
Wales who would struggle to meet those demands. Why should any
business, regardless of size, in Chepstow have to deliver the same
amount of welsh language services as somewhere in a welsh speaking
area? If you take that to the Nth degree then we don't actually have
enough welsh speakers to physically service that policy.

The salient message is this, I am still looking at my views and
revising them, some of you are very welcome contributors and I thank

Alwyn, a man who is hardly 'anti welsh' makes a very good point about
educating in Welsh…

"Sir Wyn's policy seemed to be good idea at the time, but if it isn't
working it must use up a huge amount of resources (not just financial)
which might be better used to support the language in more effective

It is about questioning and revising our approach, not being scorched
earth about it….


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