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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Welsh and the party

Sanddef performs an invaluable service once again when he offers a translation of Eleanor Burnham's contribution to this week's Golwg.

Eleanor's perspective is interesting however I disagree with it on a number of points, not least her assertion that the Welsh Liberal Democrats have become a party of monoglot English speakers with its roots planted firmly in South-East Wales. Her presence alone as a high profile bi-lingual politician based in North Wales contradicts this view, and of course she is not alone. There are many other bi-lingual members of the Welsh Liberal Democrats in prominent roles in the party scattered all around the country.

The Party President, Rob Humphreys, lives in Swansea, is from Montgomeryshire and can get by in Welsh. I understand that the Leader of Bridgend Council can converse in Welsh, whilst Wrexham Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader, Aled Roberts, Ceredigion Councillor Mark Cole, and Cardiff Environment Cabinet Member, Elgan Morgan are fluent. There are many others including Lord Roger Roberts, former Assembly Member Christine Humphreys in Conwy, former Deputy President Nick Bennett, Councillors Sylvia Lewis and Huw Lewis in Swansea, Councillor Aled Morris Jones in Ynys Mon and a host of other members and Councillors around Wales.

The party's record on the Welsh language is outstanding. The post of Minister for Culture, Sport and the Welsh Language was created because of our insistence during the first Assembly coalition talks. When Jenny Randerson occupied that position she drove forward the work on Iaith Pawb and presided over an unprecedented level of investment in the Welsh language and its development. In local authorities like Swansea the Welsh Liberal Democrats are responding to the demand for Welsh medium education with a new school and a clear investment strategy and the same is true in other Councils we have influence in.

This record is proof that irrespective of the linguistic status of our leader the party can engage with Welsh Wales, get our message across and deliver tangible improvements that will benefit the language.

The party has also always had an international perspective. Our current Assembly leader for example is an active member of the European Committee and has done a lot of work in helping to develop Lesotho. He is due to return there shortly to continue with that project. We also have an active presence in the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.

Where I agree with Eleanor is in her assertion that the Assembly Group has become too focussed on what happens in the Senedd rather than in Wales as a whole. It is vital that our Assembly Members up their game in providing a wider leadership to the party, engaging at a Wales-wide level with our activists and members in the many campaigns they are involved with in their own communities.

This process is about the rediscovery of our radical campaigning roots at one particular level. It is about changing the way we do things, not fundamentally altering the nature of the party. We can always do things better but we should not denigrate that which we are already doing well in making the case for improvement.
This is Eleanor at her very best - rambling, incoherent, irrational...just what we want for leader!
What exactly would a "Liberal form of indepenence instead of the extreme Plaid cymru version" look like?

How can independence be either extreme or moderate?

Still its good to see someone from anothe party backing independence :)
Eleanor for Leader - that would be the final nail in the coffin! Shame that she's probably even more unpopular than Mike German...
Dont kid yourself, the Welsh Liberal Democrats are far from down and out yet, no matter how much wishful thinking takes place on the internet and elsewhere.
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