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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Labour hobby horse alert

This morning's Western Mail article attacking Aled Roberts for using English in Assembly business really misses the point. Worse than it demonstrates a lack of understanding on the part of some Labour AMs of the bilingual society they are meant to be in favour of. I will make two points:

1. Aled Roberts' first language is Welsh and most of the time he will work through the medium of Welsh. Obviously that will not be the case when he is working with a non-welsh speaker. The point remains therefore that it was perfectly reasonable and natural for him to access documents on the Electoral Commission website in Welsh and rely on their accuracy.

2. A bilingual society means that Welsh speakers can choose which language to work in. It is the role of statutory bodies to facilitate that. It does not mean that a Welsh speaker must only use that language. They are free to use whichever language is appropriate in the circumstances.

That is why Labour complaints about Aled Robert are so bizarre. Notwithstanding the fact that three of his four contributions in the Chamber have been in Welsh, he is doing nothing differently to any other first language Welsh speaker. He is using the language he feels is most fitting to the occasion.
Quite right Peter.

I use a mixture of Welsh and English in the Council Chamber.

There really is no telling which language I'll speak in from one debate to the next. It usually depends on my mood at that point in time.

When I've Chaired a Council meeting however (as Cardigan Town Mayor and as a County Council Scrutiny Chair), my tendency has been more towards the Welsh but in in a normal open debate in full Council, it could be either.

I rather enjoy that freedom of being able to express myself in either language at the drop of a hat. Just because I am billingual doesn't mean that I should be expected to speak either language all the time. That's the whole point, the more languages we speak, the greater the opportunity we have to speak those various languages.

More power to Aled's elbow.
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