What will the Government do about Welsh?

Welsh was one of the subjects raised during First Minister's Questions in the Senedd earlier today.


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Carl Morris said...

Ateb: maent yn siarad am y Gymraeg mewn iaith arall, sydd ddim yn cryfhau'r Gymraeg o gwbl...

Anonymous said...

To be fair, Carl, both Lynsey Whittle and the Swansea AM are non Welsh speaking and Carwyn Jones answered them in Engliaj. Paul Davies spoke Welsh and CJ answered him in Welsh.

I'd like to hear them speak Welsh more often, not least because both of thrm have such wonderful, light accents.

As one who hasn't had one full night's sleep since the census announcement because of concern about the fate of the language, I can only hope to god that Carwyn Jones and his Govt is sincere in its commitment to creating a bilingual Wales.

I'm glad questions were raised about teenagers, though to some extent teenagers are a barometer of the local situation and pick up the signals of the comunity in which they mix in.

.... That is, to 'fix' the teenager situation you need also to fix the society problem. That means housing, education (I'd include emphasis on occupattional education and soft education - of the night school or talks on social and personal issues), a prestige in speaking and more impotantly, using Welsh in thr work place. To some extent the youth culture will follow from here, there win't be a neee for govt or mentrau iaith to organise gigs etc.

One huge thing Carwyn Jones could do, and wouldn't cost anything but would be immesurable, would be to make a big personal, public statement to Wales that he as Labour's leader is committed to the language. Something unequivocal and public, say bring in the Welsh rugby team and others to sign a pledge to pass the language on to their children, to use it publically, to start conversations in Welsh in shops and services, to enjoy living in Welsh. Do a big PR thing with following adverts. Basically, something which sends a strong, positive messagw to people, especially Labour people, to use the language and promote it. That would then filter down to Labour families, teenagers of those families and local councillors.

Welsh can be turned around with consistent planning and also the people's will for it to flourishing. For whatever reason, the Labour movement hasn't willed a future for the language (with individual exceptions).They've never made it a priority, organised gigs, discussed it. If they did, they would revolutionise the future of the language. As a Plaid voter I would dearly welcome that.

MH said...

I wouldn't be too concerned about some of the questions being asked in English either. For, if nothing else, it shows that those who don't speak Welsh are just as concerned about the language as those who do.

I don't doubt the commitment of this government, and previous governments, to the language. As a statement on pieces of paper, the commitment is definitely there. The problem is not the commitment, but the delivery. An inquiry needs to be set up to examine why previous commitments—in particular the commitment in Iaith Pawb to increase the headline percentage of Welsh speakers by 5% points in the 2011 census—were not delivered. The government needs to be held to account for that failure, it shouldn't be swept under the carpet.

I think one lesson is obvious and has been learnt: namely that progress towards any long-term target needs to be measured in short-term steps. With hindsight, it would have been better to set that target as a 5% point increase in Welsh speakers over ten years as measured by the Welsh Local Labour Force Survey (now the Annual Population Survey) rather than the census. Not because those figures are any better or worse than the census, but simply because they are available annually. My compilation of the WLLFS/APS figures is here.

I say the lesson has been learnt because, for example, the Welsh-medium Education Strategy has set specific measurable targets to be achieved by 2015 and 2020, and produces an annual progress report. But it might be better to say that only half the lesson has been learnt, for it was clear from the last report that progress was painfully slow and that urgent action was now necessary to meet the targets. I wrote about it in this post in June last year. However, as far as I am aware, nobody in the Senedd put Leighton Andrews on the spot to tell us what he was going to do about it.


On the other issues raised. I do agree that we need detailed analysis of the results and what they mean. I haven't commented on them yet because I'm only just beginning to figure out what the information means.

But Carwyn's statement that he has spoken to Meri Huws about it doesn't amount to very much. It would be inconceivable for the Commissioner's Office not to produce a detailed analysis of the results. In fact I fully expect them to conduct further surveys to help clarify the 2011 results, as was done in 2004 and 2006 after the 2001 census.

Anonymous said...
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Efrogwr said...

I am worried that some politicians are scapegoating young people. As the comments above make clear, young people's behaviour cannot be seprated from wider norms in society. Rather than blaming others, it would be great if the government acted more firmly in the areas where it has direct influence (e.g. start doing more internal admin in Welsh, sort out the education system, deal with planning, forcing big supermarkets who are happy to suck millions out of Wales to treat Welsh-speakers equally, press London on broadcasting, the legal system etc, getting a Welsh-speaking dimension into the armed forces (on the Finnish Swedish model as Adam Price called for when an MP) etc. etc.
As regards use of Welsh on the floor of the Senedd, it is polite for Welsh speakers to answer the first couple of sentences in English, but how about then switching to Welsh? Get value for money from those translators! Norms have to change, at the end of the day.

Anonymous said...

Is it true that only 8 Labour in Wales Assembly Members turned up for this debate on the Welsh language?

MH said...

I've deleted Anon's 17:08 post for the usual reason. He's welcome to repost it if he includes links.


I'm inclined to agree with Efrogwr about the strange emphasis on young people using Welsh. Of course use of the language is an important factor, but I suspect it is being used as a smokescreen so as to take attention away from why the government failed in its previous objective ... which was specifically defined in terms of a percentage point increase in speakers, not use.


17:47, this was just one question (question 10) out of about a dozen in the regular weekly First Minister's Questions slot on Tuesday afternoon. It wasn't a specific debate on the language. Perhaps you are thinking of another occasion. Certainly more than eight Labour AMs were present at FMQs yesterday, as can be seen in the video.

Efrogwr said...

There was a Plaid debate on the language today. Maybe that's what 17:47 has in mind. Should be visible in Y Cofnod tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Yes Efrogwr it was concerning the debate today. B Jenkins AM Tweeted about the Labour turnout.

Anon 17.08 said...


Anon 17.08

MH said...

Sorry Anon 17:47, I hadn't realized that the Plaid debate yesterday was on Welsh. For those who are interested, the debate starts on p47 of the Cofnod here, and the video is here.

It was a good, constructive debate and, as usual, there was complete consensus between all parties in support of the language. I counted nine Labour AMs there for the whole debate, but more turned up towards the end in order to vote. There's nothing particularly unusual about that, for any party, so I wouldn't take it as a sign of any lack of commitment.

Although the consensus is important, I think one of the downsides is that debates such as these tend to lack any cutting edge. There seems to be no room for disagreement about how we make Welsh flourish, and therefore a lack of criticism and accountability for why previous initiatives didn't produce the desired outcome. So, for example, nobody talked about why the objectives in Iaith Pawb (the 2003 Action Plan) had not been met, but talked about Iaith Fyw : Iaith Byw instead.

I can understand that a short debate such as this might not be the best place for detailled argument. All the hard debate took place when that document was produced and approved last year. But the real question now is whether we need to revisit any aspects of Iaith Fyw : Iaith Byw (and other policy documents) in the light of the 2011 census results. I'd have liked at least some of the debate to have focused on that.

Anonymous said...

We can't allow Carwyn Jones's Govt to go ahead with another 'Iaith Pawb' Mark2. That's my concern when he starts to focus on 'teenagers'.

The main work should be done in:

1. Stopping policy to build 320,000 new homes in Wales.

2. Increasing number of WM schools - how many new WM schools do we need to overturn the annual deficit of 2,000 Welsh speakers. How many new WM does this work out per year?

3. Mainstream Welsh in some Govt Dept and 3 councils (Carms, Ceredigion, Môn).

4. Mainstream leisure classes etc in County Council's work. It's not an 'add on' for the Mentrau Iaith. This is what the Swansea AM seemed to be alluding to.

Efrogwr said...

Spot on, Anon 14:04.
While we're talking shopping lists, good to see the new petition to the National Assembly to have bi-lingual labelling in Wales. Not a game changer, I know, but feeds into the way the language is perceived (i.e. are we taking it seriously?):


Welsh not British said...

Nail on head anon 14:04.

Stopping the dilution of Wales and Welsh is the key to solving all of Wales' problems. The problem is that there is only one way to do this and that is for us to stop voting Labour.

Anonymous said...

The answer is 'not much'. Carwyn Jones has refused to make any meaningful comment about the Eos dispute where Welsh song ae paid a pittance in royalties. He won't condemn the BBC although the one coherent thing he said in the debate about the language was that something needs to be done in relation to attitudes of teenagers to the language.

The Eos is an obvous and frankly uncontroversial way of showing support for the language and muscisans in Wales .... but he can't even be bothered to that ...

... but was bothered enough to pesonally complain about Pobol y Cwm!

Don't know whether to laugh or cry about the future of the language with Carwyn Jones as FM.

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