More rubbish in the Western Mail

Gwilym Levell has been spewing his bile on the letters page of the Western Mail for long enough to become a comedy legend. But even I was surprised that the editor published this piece of blatant misinformation from him today.

SIR – Is Aled G Jôb for real? (Letters, 26 December)

It is well known that less than half the population of the four heartland counties can speak Welsh, less than a quarter can read it, less than one eighth can write it, yet he wants those four county councils to conduct all the business in Welsh to provide jobs for Welsh-speakers and gross inconvenience for more than half the population ...

Western Mail Letters, 4 January 2013

The actual figures are here. In total there are 436,681 people aged three or over in Ynys Môn, Gwynedd, Ceredigion and Sir Gâr.

228,580 of them (52.3%) can speak Welsh; 200,447 of them (45.9%) can speak and read Welsh; and 183,627 of them (42.1%) can speak, read and write Welsh.

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Anonymous said...

The percentages are higher if you exclude in-migration.

Aled said...

And yet they didn't publish this letter of mine, submitted 17 December:

Last week’s census release clearly demonstrates that government policy at all levels has failed to arrest the decline of Welsh speakers, especially in the South West. We will see the most local details next month, but I suggest that one issue which can be addressed immediately is the standard of Welsh second language teaching in our schools.

I am grateful that the 1988 National Curriculum made Welsh a core subject for all 7-16 year olds, however the language is not always given the time and teaching resources it needs. Our English-medium schools now need to consider devoting at least 2 hours a week to Welsh teaching throughout this mandatory age range.

Furthermore, Welsh subject specialists are needed within every English-medium school; teachers who have sufficient fluency and expertise to deliver the best possible linguistic outcomes for our nation’s children.

If the Welsh Government is serious in its goal of achieving bilingualism in Wales, it must deliver on its promises by using every tool at its disposal. If every Welsh school leaver is equipped with a thorough grasp of both our national languages, then the devolved administration would rightly be able to applaud its own success.

Anonymous said...

Every newspaper has a "Gwilym Levell". Their permanent presence on the letter page is inversely proportionate to the shit people give about them.

Cai Larsen said...

It is a common feature of anti Welsh letter writing & posting that much of what is written isn't evidence based - & is indeed not based in the world as we know it.

Anonymous said...

The Western Mail ceased to exist as a quality newspaper quite some years go. By now it is no more than a paper appendage to the WalesOnline "news" website which specialises in publishing "controversial" nonsense to generate comments from anti-Welsh / anti-Wales trolls and a response from those who feel the need to correct / rebut their rants (all of which of course delivers hits and online advertising revenue for Trinity Mirror).

Hardly anyone reads the Western Mail anymore and, of those that do, I suspect that no more than a handful will bother to read Gwilym Levell's letters let alone be influenced by their swivel-eyed content. Poor Gwil is no different to a shouty eccentric who has stood on the same street corner barking at passers-by since before anyone cares to remember. He's an analogue troll in a digital age and deserves no more than a smile and a shake of the head.

Neilyn said...

Far more derisible than the bare faced lie on the numbers of Cymry Cymraeg resident in these counties, something which can be easily refuted, is the accusation that making Welsh the medium of administration within Ynys Mon, Ceredigion and Sir Gar, as in Gwynedd, would amount to "dictatorship", as "no elected body could allow it".

Would that include an elected body that voted in favour of such a policy Mr Levell? Ha! Democracy, the scourge of the frustrated wannabe dictator everywhere!

Anonymous said...

It's a real shame. The quality of the paper is directly proportionate to the investment and resources it has. The owners (trinity mirror) don't consider it a national title and have cut it back. It needs to generate hits to sell advertising, presumably. That's why it shouldn't be regarded as a national news service, which is how some people in Welsh politics have to treat it because it's the only place where things that Welsh politicians say get recorded.

I'm one of those people who still checks the site every day because without it you would simply not know Welsh politics existed.

There's nothing to celebrate about Wales having a dying media. I've come around to believing a few million pounds more per year should be put into a state Welsh news service, like most countries have.

Anonymous said...

I don't care about Levell but with the census showing a decrease, there is a danger now amongst the general public that they will assume Welsh is being used much less than is the case, and is therefore not of importance or shouldn't be funded (irrational, I know). Efforts need to be made to hype up how much Welsh is being used, especially in places like Gwynedd, without white washing the results. Even with a percentage decrease to 19 or 18 Welsh is still going to be a massive part of our future and in fact the census shows signs that the long-term decline is being slowed.

Anonymous said...

I agree with much of what you say Anon 18:17 but when you say "places like Gwynedd", the reality is that it is Cyngor Gwynedd, and Cyngor Gwynedd alone of the 22 local authorities, which is actually using the Welsh language consciously and proactively. Council's like Ynys Mon and Ceredigion may have a critical mass of Welsh-speakers working for them, but they do little or nothing to promote a Welsh working environment.

Tellingly, whilst speaking Welsh staff from Mon will usually refer to their "Chief Exec" and their "Scrutiny Committees" whilst staff from Gwynedd will refer to their "Prif Weithredwr" and their "Pwyllgorau Craffu" whilst at regional and national meetings it will only be Councillors and staff from Gwynedd who will contribute in Welsh as a matter of course.

We need to explode the myth that there are many "places like Gwynedd" - there aren't, and there won't be until the political will exists national and local to create them.

Welsh not British said...

By using the circulation stats and census stats that were released earlier last year I was able to work out that only 1 in 118 people in Wales read the Western Mail.

The majority of these people must either be WelshNats or BritNats because it's only these people that ever talk about the bloody thing!

Ignore it, it will die off eventually.

MH said...

This post wasn't really about Mr Levell, who is what he is, but about what the WM chooses to publish. I'm sure he must write ten letters a week, but why does the WM publish one which any half-awake editor should instantly spot as fraudulent? The reason can only be because the WM is happy to spread lies of this sort.

But I don't think it's fair to say that the WM or the letters in it should be ignored. Many of them are invaluable and some of them stimulating. To take one recent example, I was intrigued by the idea of a public bank along the lines of the Bank of North Dakota as proposed by Ian Jenkins yesterday.

And, of course, Aled's original letter was worth reading. So perhaps it's best to concentrate on that.


I fully agree that we should be looking to make Welsh the administrative language of the councils in Ynys Môn, Ceredigion and Sir Gâr. This has been Plaid Cymru's policy for some time. I'm fairly sure it was a manifesto commitment, but can't put my finger on it. If anyone can point me in the right direction, I'd be grateful. Plaid are now in power in Ceredigion, and I would certainly hope they are already looking to make it happen. Back in 2006, Gareth Popkins wrote a pamphlet for Cymuned called Cymreigio'r Cyngor specifically about Ceredigion following Gwynedd's lead. Well worth a read.

It would be good to see the same happen on Ynys Môn following this year's delayed council elections, as Aled says. The political situation there is probably much too localized for me to understand, but I had tended to think that with eventual council reorganization, Gwynedd and Ynys Môn would be (re-)united anyway and that it would be implemented then. However there is a complete lack of any momentum on local government reorganization and, besides that, one of the suggestions is for a new north Wales local authority that includes both NW and NE Wales ... which would be a disaster from a linguistic point of view. So it would be better for Ynys Môn to press on regardless and I hope it will be a specific issue in the election.

As for Sir Gâr, it certainly won't happen under the current administration. But the Labour-ClosetTory coalition is bound to crumble one day and wholesale changes will need to be made when Plaid get in.

Anonymous said...

I have to say MH that I am totally and utterly depressed by the census figures for Welsh. I've not slept well since they were announced and I'm seriously thinking of seeking medial help. I'm totally immobilised by the depression which it has caused.

I see no hope. The only people who seem not concerned are Carwyn JOnes and Dafydd Elis Thomas - two discredited politicians. DET at least has the Welsh language at heart but his, and the Welsh Language Board's 'mae'r frwydr drosodd' (the battle is over) succeeded in demoralising a generation of people and was music to the ears of the British Establishement/Labour party.

Carwyn Jones doesn't have an idea what do, nor do I guess, does it worry him much. The demise of the language for him is like the weather for our medieval forefathers - something which no one can do anything about, expect hope and state the bleeding obvious.

The only Labour politician who seems to have any idea is Leighton Andrews. Frankly the future of the language is in his hands. He's capable and is not scared of taking decisions. I hope to god he does something.

Otherwise, what? Plaid won't say the obvious which is build an argument around the obvious fact that the British state is responsible for the demise of the language. Why don't they quote Miliband's defense of the English langauge in a Welsh cotext? We need this kind of critique in the general discussion because otherwise people just don't understand the concern people have about Welsh or, their ambition for Welsh is so low, that we can't implement the radical policies it needs to be revived.

Otherwise, I'm lost.

I see the Ulster Protestant riot and think, 'well, nobody's going to take them for granted nor ignore them'. The Protestants have seen the demographic figures and know they need to stand their corner. What are we doing? We're ignored or if not ignored ridiculed - see the argument about royalty fees and Radio Cymru. Wales is treated like an English county and BBC Wales has allowed this to happen as do we.

I seriously think we need something big and radical to concentrate people's minds and make the life of those in power - Labour in Cardiff and the Brit Establishment in London take us serously.

The only think I can think which comes close to this is hunger strikes. Thousands of Welsh men are ready do die for Britain in Afghanistan or the Falkland Wars or Iraq but how many of us are ready to lay down our lives for Wales? Gwynfor was. I think only something of this magnitide would galvanise and strengthen people to demand radical change.

Welsh not British said...

^ "Carwyn Jones doesn't have an idea what do, nor do I guess, does it worry him much."

Of course he knows what to do. The very idea of Labour not being able to organise a cliche in a brewery is completely wrong. It's not that he doesn't know how to help Wales it's just that he simply doesn't want to.

How can he stand up for the colonisation and exploitation of Wales when it would mean standing up to England, his puppet masters at UK Labour and their voters across the border.

Above all, how can he ever send a message to London if Wales isn't deliberately sabotaged.

Neilyn said...

Anon at 18:07.

I sympathise with how you feel, and you can be sure you're nowhere near being alone in feeling that way. However, please do NOT give up hope. Things often take a turn for the better not long after the situation appears to be at it's bleakest. We need to stiffen our resolve, as the saying goes, and make sure that the Welsh Government, the National Assembly, MPs and The Wales Office are put under such pressure that inaction to resolve the issue once and for all becomes intolerable.

No doubt the upcoming census results for communities will add substantial fuel to the fire.

Anonymous said...

lets face it hilter's old maxim about more people believing 'big lies' certainly applies in Wales to with regards to anything to do with either the welsh language or devolution for wales ie the bigger the lie about the welsh language or devolution the more likely a editor in any so called 'welsh paper' is to publish it...

its a very distateful aspect of the media in wales and i can think of no other nation in the world where this curious 'wales hating' phenomenon takes would be akin to the dailymail repeatedly running storiea and letters denigrating the english language and belittling parliamntary democracy at westminister...

but alas there really is no great mystery about this, as its obviously a by product of the issue of media ownership in wales. The washedup mail, the daily post et al are not in any sense 'welsh newspapers'....they may be sold in wales and bought by welsh people but they are wholly owned and controlled outside wales - hence their handpicked editors have no qualms (or conscience) about publishing articles or letters containing scurrilous and blatantly untrue statements about the welsh language for example.

And this depressing state of affairs wont change until we in wales gain control over the print - and broadcast - media in our own country. Then anti-welsh rants of the type specialised in by Wales hating bigots like levell would not see the light of day and be consigned to the rubbish bin where they belong.

Leigh Richards

Anonymous said...

Er.....Isn't that totalitarian type censorship Leigh? You know, where you allow your own lies, or the lies of Cymdeithas Yr Iaith but don't publish the lies of people you don't like. Bit like the IWA.

Anonymous said...

anon....i think the 'censorship' you refer to is currently being waged by the editors of newspapers in wales who will not publish the scores of letters or articles they have received that present the case for the welsh language and its future. Also can you give me one example of anything i have ever written - or had published in a newspaper - where i have lied? Similarly can you give me one example of any 'lies' perpetuated by Cymdeithas?

If you cannot then i trust you will have the decency to publicly apologise for making these unfounded allegations and by publicly i mean supplying your name along with your apology...though i suspect the reason you choose to hide when posting is because you know perfectly well your claims about either myself or cymdeithas are entirely without foundation?

Leigh Richards

Anonymous said...

I've stopped buying the WM. Why would I want to waste money on a paper which doesn't support my language. It's their choice and my choice too.

I've also stopped listening to Radio Cymru since last week as the BBC sees fit to pay a failed DG £400k but gets all Thatcherite and careful about paying honest musicians.

I honestly think Wales has dies. We are just wasting our selves, kidding oursevles.

Maybe, maybe, if the Scots vote Yes, there's a chance for the language as it'll undermine some of the certainty which Britishness gives the anti-Welsh. But we can't count on the Scots.

It's over. May as well move to England. Ceredigion is becoming an English county. Plaid aren't going to do anything radical because the English are now in the majority and unlike the Welsh well use their majority status to make sure their language comes first.

At least in England I can enjoy and relax in the English culture and language.

Anonymous said...

So, the number of Welsh speakers decreases by 3,000. How many new WM schools need to open to make up for that loss.

We hear a lot about growth in WM education but really there is no great growth and in the Fro it's gone down as the area is anglicised.

Let's do the sums:

1 WM primary school (@250 children)
x 12

= 3,000

so, we need to see 12 WM primary schools a year for 10 years = 120 WM schools to open (or convert to WM) in the next 10 years.

Sorry, Labour obstruct every new school - not one new one in Merthyr since 1976! (basically when Plaid ran the council for a short while). Labour aren't going to do it.

Carwyn won't do it. Leighton might. Red neck Labor councillors wont, or rather, they'll drag their feet, pretend to do something until it's too late and then go satisfied to bed that they've covered their backs but killed off the language being anything but a minority sport like Catholic schools.


Anonymous said...

'Labour obstructs every new school'

MH's post was about lies and misinformation. And yet here we have an example of the very same. I am not Labour supporter or even a Labour voter, but there are countless examples of Labour supporting, promoting, and indeed establishing new Welsh medium schools. Unfortuately, some of those who leave comments on this blog are as divorced from reality as Gwilym Levell, Gogwatch, Glasnost etc. Indeed, rather ironically,the latter tend to see Carywn Jones and the Welsh Labour leadership as frightful Welsh language fanatics.

Anonymous said...

Anon: 22:53

Point taken. 'Everytime' is an overstatement but Labour have certainly procrastinated, obstructed and conducted antiWM schools in Merthyr, Swansea, Carmarthen, Caerffili etc. Not one WM school opened in Merthyr since 1976! That's two generations ago i.e. the last school was opened during Plaid Cymru's brief stint there. Schools are open often after long long battles. It's a bit like saying the Tories are feminists because Maggie Thatcher was the first female PM.

I've yet to see the kind of concerted strategy to grow WM education that the British government decided on growing English medium education here in the 19th century. Lets hope Leighton Andrew delivers. When it comes to the language I'm supportive on anyone from any party who supports Welsh.

Things may be changing - it depends where you live. But it would be good just to see some discussion on Labour forums about how to grow the Welsh language. Unfortunately, the lack of any discussion implied very strongly that it simply isn't a concern for Labour. As such it's not a priority. As such it won't be implemented with vigor. Sad. I'd like be discussing ways of growing the Welsh language with Labour supporters but they don't seem to be there.

Just read that in 20 years, the number of Basque speakers has increase from 24% to 34%. That's what happens when you have a proactive government. That's not what we've seen in Wales. Many of us hoped Devolution would change things, but it's only done so very slowly and piecemeal ... unfortunately, time isn't a luxury the language has.

But, point taken.


Anonymous said...

Think its a way over the top reaction by Leigh on this post. Although I don't agree that Cymdeithas promotes "lies" either. It's up to people whether to buy the Western Mail or read Wales Online or not. It's a privately owned title. It isn't a national news service like BBC or RTE where you have to have impartiality and various codes of neutrality.

I don't particularly rate Western Mail/Wales Online at all. But I read them because they are the only (official) place to get information about Welsh politics apart from the ITV and BBC websites (which are not as detailed), Golwg and then blogs.

Today Shipton has a pretty fair-minded piece criticising the Labour cabinet's lack of quality.

I don't see the problem really.

Anonymous said...

Sine the Labour Party in Wales are standing up for us as they keep saying, I've somehow missed their statement concerning the disgraceful way Welsh language musing artists are now being treated by the BBC. Could somebody point it out to me?

Anonymous said...

Good point Anon 13:00 - don't understand why Carwyn Jones doesn't say anything about this. No, not being sarcastic. Genuinely don't understand.

If the language is a problem just think of it as this, pretty much every penny paid to play Welsh language music on Radio Cymru goes back into the Welsh economy ... can't be said for playing English music on Radio Wales (or Radio Cymru).

And where's Owen Smith MP who went on about the cultural feats of 2012 .... isn't paying musicians (and it's OK, they're not all Welsh speakers nor fluent!) an important cultural investment?

This is why people don't think the language is safe with Carwyn Jones.

Anonymous said...

To be fair Plaid Cymru has been the only party supporting the Eos musicians. Which you would expect. Isn't there supposed to be a deal soon?

Anonymous said...

An article on welsh musicians dispute with bbc wales on the washedup mail's walesonline website tonite

the comments permitted under this story illustrate the sort of disgusting anti-welsh bile the so called national newspaper of wales permits on its public forums on a regular basis.....after reading these far from going over the top - as anon 10:19 thinks - i think i may have gone too easy on the so called welsh media.......

Leigh Richards

Anonymous said...

But it's freedom of speech Leigh. That's the point. A public media source can be stricter than a private one like Wales Online. But it's up to them. If you don't like the comments, copy me and don't read them. Just read the article.

Similar to the comments on Betsan's blog (much worse) for the BBC, it is just a group of small people multi-posting and doing it as a hobby. We know for a fact that those kind of bigoted attitudes are not actually widespread amongst Welsh and other people in Wales.

Anonymous said...

hi anon and yes i do appreciate there are freedom of speech issues to be considered etc but i do have to wonder if the kinds of comments featured in the WoL thread i posted above were directed at for example urdu or bengali would they be permitted? i think the answer is almost certainly they woud rightly be percieved as racist and so be prohibited from being posted...

so surely the welsh as a distinct ethnic group..with their own distinct language...are entitled to the same protection under the law as any other ethnic group? And the same protection under the broadcast and print media's codes of practice?

Leigh Richards

Anonymous said...

Leigh i'm reading the comments and I can't see any of them that would be discrimintory whether towards Welsh or Urdu or Bengali. It's mostly opinion, and almost all of it hopelessly wrong opinion and 'trolling' whereby it is deliberately provocative to stoke a reaction. The issue of subsidy to BBC Asian has been debated in a similarly trashy and coarse way on the Daily Mail. It's wrong but it's not hate speech. I can see that some of the comments have been deleted by moderators, so maybe those where the racist ones.

Where I agree with you though Leigh is that there is a media antagonism towards Welsh at the moment. There's a trend in the English tabloids. I worry more about that than about Wales online comments which nobody pays attention to.

We know about Welsh public opinion towards the language and shouldn't over-react or play the victim unnecessarily.

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