.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Hunting for the 'Anti-Welsh'

Huw Lewis is absolutely correct in his assertion today that accusations of being 'anti-Welsh' amount to the sort of unacceptable smear that closes down debate. It is the sort of tactic that Plaid Cymru have been fond of using though members of all parties have also indulged in similar accusations of one sort or the other in an attempt to gain political advantage.

If there is one thing that the developing consensus in the Welsh Assembly has established it is that all parties represented in it are commited to the devolution project in one form or another. Some are more divided than others on how that project should proceed, others have different views of the outcomes that they wish to see from the process, but all have the best interest of Wales at heart.

The use of such phrases consistently moves debate onto a nationalist agenda. The implication is that because somebody opposes a particular policy or does not want to go as far as others in implementing reform then they are acting against the Welsh interest. What they may or may not want to do will have merits and demerits and it is possible that some will take the view that their proposals will do damage to a particular community or communities but that should not call into question their patriotism. At least not without good cause.

Re-reading the reports of Rhodri Morgan's chapter in the Institute of Welsh Affairs book, I did not get the impression that he was saying Labour lost votes because they were seen as anti-Welsh but that they had not embraced the Welsh language agenda sufficiently to either attract or retain support in parts of Wales. He also pointed out the way that the Labour Party has effectively marginalised itself as a party of the valleys by refusing to sufficiently embrace change.

My view is that Labour lost votes in West and Mid Wales because of the way they were pursuing reform of the health service. They failed to listen to people's concerns and did not respond to the widespread belief that the proposed changes would lead to a worse service. In effect voters did not buy their claims that there was an arms-length relationship between the health bodies who wanted to close hospitals and the Labour Government. They were right not to do so as post-election events have demonstrated.

There are lessons for all of us in how we engage with communities and how we shape and reform services so as to retain confidence in them. In this context though we should learn to focus the debate on the issues and not indulge in the personalised accusations of the sort Huw Lewis protests about. If we fail to do that then we devalue politics and the political process.
Or maybe Labour lost votes because when groups like Cymuned (and Cymuned struck a deep chord in large areas of welsh speaking Wales) had the gall to point to the impact of in-migration into Welsh speaking areas, Labourites like Huw Lewis and Leighton Andrews jumped up and down and screamed "racist" at the top of their voices. Their aim was patently clear - to shut down a sensitive debate and muddy the water.

So Huw Lewis is a hypocrite who has no moral high-ground whatsoever to preach from. He just does not understand what is happenning in the Welsh speaking areas, and probably doesn't want to really, either.
Yes Peter - have you forgotten how peopel like Lewis called called Dafydd Iwan 'racists', and how Paul Starling of the Welsh Mirror, who was thanked publicly at Welsh Labour's conferences, called Welsh 'The language of Hate' and launched a vicious campaign against Welsh as a way of attacking Plaid Cymru.
As soneone who voted Labour until I found myself disgusted by these tactics, I can vouch for the hugely negative impact of all that.
I'm surprised you've forgotten Peter... or are you carefully editing the recent history of the 'language debate'?
I don't think you will be able to find a single instance of Leighton Andrews or Huw Lewis calling Dafydd Iwan, or Cymuned "racists". I challenge you to do so before making comments like that. I believe some people inside the Labour Party did question whether Dafydd Iwan was making racist comment when he discussed "all these Indians and Pakistanis" moving into England.

Paul Starling is a complete nutjob who cost Wales a decent daily newspaper, but that is a separate issue altogether.

Peter is right to call for an end to this kind of slur politics in Wales.
Anon 10.26, you must be the same Anon who posted the same accusation on Welsh Ramblings that Dafydd Iwan had said 'all these Indians and Pakistanis'. As was pointed out on that blog, Dafydd Iwan was quoting what some English incomers - white flight types - had given as their reasons for coming to Welsh-speaking Wales. The words were not his. But that didn';t stop Labour, or you apparently, from misleading people by implying that he did.
Iwan was accused of being racist, and Labour made it look as if he had said those words.
You yourself on Welsh Ramblings have accepted that (which makes me wonder why you didn;t make it clear to start with...), so perhaps you shoudl do it now?
Check Welsh Ramblings blog for the ins and outs of that debate!
Here is a link to a highly respected article in arespected magazine which outlines and documents Welsh Labour's use of the term 'racist' and 'racism' to attack plaid Cymru for political advantage in the lead-up to the 2003 Asselbly election.

The article has also appeared in a book called The Idiom of Dissent.

It is the best and most detailed itemization of the sort of thing Labour does, and will provide your correspondent with some evidence of the use of words like 'racism' by notable people in his party...
I can't believe I've just been lulled into reading that. Respected? By who? I've never read such an imbalanced bunch of tripe in my life! There might actually be some interesting points worth discussing buried inside the sub-GCSE-standard argument, but it is so over burdened with subjective nonsense as to make the entire thing meaningless. But thanks for sharing. And it doesn't answer the point about Labour AMs calling Dafydd Iwan or Cymned "racists".
You don't seem to have answered my point about your statement on this post that attributes the quote 'all these Indians and Pakistanis' to Dafydd Iwan, when you knew (apparently) that he himself was quoting.
I think that's a fair enough example of what teh article I referred to is talkign about: the language of race and racism used - directly or by implication - to smear anyone who raises issues about the survival of Welsh-speaking communities in a era of unemployment, high house prpices and mass-im-migraion from peopel fundamentally uninterested in learnign the language of that culture.
Ironically enough, this is an epoch when Labour was lecturing people who moved to England on how they should learn English.
Our party mishandled that, and by helping to demonise the language we made a quick gain but long term we lost a hell of a lot of votes.
When I canvassed in north Wales I found an English couple who attacked us (Labour) for our campaign of lies against Cymuned. They liked Cymuned - Cymuned had helped them find Welsh classes and given them information about settling in. They're Plaid voters now, though and through. They could and shoudl have been ours.
Seriously you are going to have to do better than that 'highly rerspected'. Cambria is hardly known for its neautrality now is it...

A bit like the SWP backing their arguments with articles written in the Morning Star.

You know its strange, because politicians whop believe in the United Knigdom are always attacked for being defensive, yet as soon as the language is mentioned by one of them (and not by any means in a deragtory way) a barrage of abuse is launched by the Welsh language lobby...
I think there's a misunderstanding here between the two meanings of the word Welsh.

When Rhodri was discussing Labour's portrayal as "anti-Welsh" he semed to be talking about the Welsh language not the Welsh country/people (i.e. Cymraeg not Cymreig)
Welsh-language lobby? Come on Carys - I'm an English speaking Welshman and not part of any lobby. I just object to the way some in Labour attacked and smeared Welsh-speakers, and now are trying to win back their votes.
Re neutrality: I don;t think anyone is neutral here, so why is your bias better than someone else's?
All of the quotes and facts in that Cambria article are true, and though you may disagree with the argument made from them (though you haven't said why) you can;t actually counter them factually.
Carys - you seem to think that anyone who objects to anti-Welsh -language attacks is part of the Welsh-language lobby, (whatever that is!). Are you trying to shut down debate by smearing me? Why shoudl someone who disagrees with you be part of a 'lobby'?
We are all biased here - that's the nature of politics. We have causes and we have parties. The stupidest thing to say is that somehow 'we' are neutral and our opponents biased.
You'll be saying the Laboru party is neutral next and that Hue Lewis's thinktank is 'neutral', or David Davies is 'neutral' on devolution.
I don;t think that anyone in Labour disputes that Labour made use of Paul Starling to attack Plaid by attacking the language in the period leading up to the last but one assembly election. Carwyn Jones more or less says so and Paul Flynn says so outright. I quote them too, because they are part of the Labour party (as am I...), and because they have been trying to deal with an issue that has harmed Labour in Welsh-speaking areas.
Pretending it never happened is no good. Rhodri is trying to deal with it, and some in Laboru are attacking him for it.
Thisis just an hors d'oeuvre for the next part of the show, when he supports devolution and the Don Touhig gang undermine and oppose him.
You heard it here first. Battlelines are being drawn in Labour.
By the way Peter - congratulations on provoking the ire of the tireless Dr Wood in today's Echo. I hope to make the reading. Thanks for arranging it. He's a fine writer and I object to idiots like Wood and Xtian voice claiming to speak for my faith by stopping others from speaking.
"When Rhodri was discussing Labour's portrayal as "anti-Welsh" he semed to be talking about the Welsh language not the Welsh country/people (i.e. Cymraeg not Cymreig)"

Hen, if Rhodri is referring to the Welsh language why won't he just say so, it doesn't take a genius to add the word 'language' after the word Welsh. Why confuse the matter. It doesn't matter if the two words look and sound similar when written in Welsh they have very different meanings in English. This is more than just semantics!
Anon 12:03 - the word Welsh has two definitions. Seeing as how the whole of that part of Rhodri's article was about Labour's attitude to the Welsh language then the obvious assumption is that he was using it in that context and not the "anti-Welsh people" context.
The anon blogger claiming to be a Labour Party member is having a laugh. There might be disagreement inside Welsh Labour about the future direction of the party, but there isn't a single party member living or dead who would quote Sion Jobbins to back up their case! That hasn't got anything to do with the language, that is just basic common sense. It would be like a Plaid member quoting David Davies to back up their argument.

Why don't you worry about the future leadership of your own party ie the growing tensions between Adam Price and Ieuan Wyn Jones? Is Adam going to have the bottle to stand for the Assembly? If so, I give Ieuan 6 months as party leader.
Addressing drunken contributions is probably more beneficial and more coherent than the drivel I've just read about the Welsh Language on this blog. Labour are and always will be anti-Welsh language - full-stop. The other Parties just don't understand the Welsh Language (and I don't mean that literally). They just don't understand the history, the injustice, the discrimination and the continued negative response and impact on a language and people that should automatically shame anyone who cares about minorities and the injustices they have always suffered at the hands of majorities in the name of democracy.Just think about it!
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?