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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

A question of language

It is not often that I am surprised by a political interview but Wyn Roberts' revelations in this morning's Western Mail have startled me somewhat. Lord Roberts of Conwy, as he now is, served as the Conservatives' Welsh Minister of State under four Secretaries of State for Wales between 1987 and 1994. He is now saying that the reason he was never given the top job was due to the fact that he was a Welsh speaker:

Giving his own perspective on the situation to ITV1Wales' Waterfront programme, he said, "If a person speaks a language that you don't know and so on, it does tend to segregate him."

Normally, the complaint is that people have been passed over for a job because they cannot speak Welsh, but if the Tories were really as paranoid as this statement indicates then it is no wonder that they have been out of the reckoning in Wales for so long.

Personally, I always thought that Wyn Roberts was passed over for Secretary of State for Wales because he was not Cabinet material, but what do I know?
Comments:
I don't quite understand the shock that's being expressed by politicians of nearly all colours at this 'revelation'.

Did you really think the Tory Party of the time viewed the Welsh Language as essential for the post?

It stands to reason that the English Tory Party would want to have one of themselves ruling the roost in Wales.

Now we must wait and see if the pro-Welsh stance of the modern Tory party in Wales is anything but a facade...
 
Wyn Roberts was barely ministerial material at all, let alone Cabinet level. In fairness perhaps he would make it into a WAG Cabinet, but we're talking proper grown-up Cabinet here. Nick Edwards realised he needed a Welsh speaking Minister on the team, particularly given the legislative programme he was committed to, and Wyn was the only one available (also why Rod Richards recieved such rapid elevation). After Nick gave way to the succession of English SoS of course Wyn became still more indispensible.
 
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