Protest at Aber

Here are some pictures of Cymdeithas yr Iaith's protest at the Welsh Government's Office in Aberystwyth this morning.




“The language won’t be lost overnight but over a number of years and decades.

"The latest census has shown a serious decline in the numbers of Welsh language speakers – a sign that, we as a nation, could actually lose a key part of our heritage over the coming decades.

"Only through civil disobedience is it possible for us to convey the seriousness of the situation. We are determined that our generation will not allow the language to decline and that's our main aim as campaigners today – to make a stand and to challenge Carwyn Jones' inaction.

“Like us, Carwyn Jones himself acknowledges his concerns about the state of the language. Unlike us however, he shows difficulty in thinking of a strategy that can stabilise the language. He has failed the citizens of Wales in that respect. We have outlined a strategy that goes to the heart of this crisis. All that we ask of Carwyn and the Labour-led Government is to show the leadership that reflects the seriousness of the present state of the Welsh language.

"With positive protest and political will, we can change the fate of the language, and ensure it flourishes over the years to come. At the moment, it seems courage is lacking. The government need to take brave and significant steps to ensure a fair and sustainable future for the Welsh language. This is what has brought us out as a group today to protest.”

Sioned Hâf, on behalf of Cymdeithas yr Iaith

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Anonymous said...

Reminds me of the miners ..... the more you protest the more you drive people away.

Anonymous said...

Cymeithas ar right to target the Goverbnment on this. In 20 years the increase in Welsh medium education has risen from about 18% to 21% - that is, the increase is about the same as that of a margin of error in any sample.

In all effect, there has been no increase. This compares very very badly with increase in Basque medium education and now even the increase in Breton medium (albeit they start from a very low point).

This is competely the fault of Labour who have rules local authorities and have held the Education post at the Assemby for 15 years since the Assembly was formed.

Absolutely tragic.

Anonymous said...

What we now need is a Welsh Mandela....pref one born in Nelson.

MH said...

I agree with you that it's tragic, 15:54. The particular tragedy is that Welsh-medium education is something that this government has set targets on, but it has failed to meet even its own targets.

I have advance information about what the next annual report on WM percentages will say (see this post) ... and although there will be a larger increase than before (to 22.4% of Year 7 learners) we're still going to miss the 2015 target of 25% by some way. Yet this Government is doing nothing about it.

Just one thing to note. The percentage figures are actual figures, not a sample, so there is no margin of error. Percentages are rising, but too slowly.


So that's why Rolihlahla changed his name, 16:47. I never realized he was a Valleys boy. It would explain a lot.

Anonymous said...

There is no "margin of error" with Welsh medium, it's calculated with a headcount, not a sampled opinion poll.

That said, much of the blame lies at the local authority level. The Welsh Government sets the strategy and it has broadly been okay. But many local authorities (and the record of Labour authorities has to be criticised here) continue to drag their feet. Cardiff, Merthyr, Newport...all of these areas are under-served and its down to local government making political decisions against WM education.

Anonymous said...

Hear Hear! One has only to read the local paper in Newport to see enraged Argus readers demanding a huge Welsh language promotion. It is the talk of every bustling gastro pub and Mumsnet group. As I walk through the fascinating building site that is the "New" Newport I dream of a day when I can converse with say, a street fruit trader, a Big Issue seller, or a happy cider swiller in the language of OUR fathers. "I have a dream!" as BB King once sang at St Davids Hall ( 1985). And he never sent his son to Eton like some.

"Lotta Continua!" as we say in N.Ringland.

Anonymous said...

My 'margin of error' comment wasn't questioning the date but rather makeing the point, that in any polling sample a margin of error is given of 3%. That is, one gives and takes 3% either side. The point I was making was that the increase is so small that it is within what is given as a margin of error.

Labour government for 100 years has almost killed off the Welsh language. Of course, that was the whole point for many Labour members. Kill it off quietly by kicking the ball into the long grass, by 'not now', by 'we'd like to open the new school but there's no money', by 'Welsh is an elitist language'.

Unfortunately supporters of Welsh in Labour will very very rarely put the language above partisan Labour priorities. Carwyn Jones main calculation when discussing anything about the language is 'what will the anti Welsh rednecks say?'

Huw Lewis - has killed Leighton Andrews's ambition for the Welsh language dead with lack of interest.

Diolch Llafur. Milliband and Labour are very ready to defend English and make sure immigrants learn English but will do only the very minimal (if that) for Welsh. Carwyn sees Welsh as a nice think not a principle. In that respect, Carwyn is an old Welsh Liberal from c1910.

Anonymous said...

Carwyn Jones genuinely is committed to Welsh. He speaks Welsh with his kids and his family. But the point about Labour in local government is fair. There isn't a unified Labour view on Welsh. Too many dinosaurs.

Dai Coco (Prof. Cwmbran Uni) said...

Argus Newporto just now...

"THE leader of Newport council has called for more detail on the cost of
a possible new Welsh-medium school in the grounds of Duffryn High.
Plans for a Newport solution to help
solve a looming crisis in secondary places are at an early stage, with
further investigations to take place.

Yesterday cabinet members of the
Labour-run Newport council ordered
more work from officers on the proposal, which if it went ahead
would see Duffryn High School remodelled, refurbished and
extended so a new Welsh-medium school can start there."

We will be singing in the Bettws Cider Bars tonight! My Tarquin wont have to go to Eaton like Rhodri's Welsh lang sprog!

MH said...

I was planning on writing something about the new WM secondary school in Newport last weekend, but I'll try and do so later. The demand is growing all the time. The Argus is obviously doing a good job.


It's hard to know what to say about Labour. Yes, I think there is some truth in the generalization that Labour in the Assembly is more in favour of Welsh, and that the lack of progress in meeting targets is due to tardiness at local authority level. But, to be frank, I wonder if the message from Labour in the Assembly is in fact just "a nice think" (I like that, 10:29) rather than a real commitment.

Labour have been blaming local authorities for not implementing the WM targets, but at the same time the local authorities were saying that they would only increase WM provision if the Welsh Government coughed up the money. So it might be better to look on Labour as playing a game of "hard cop, soft cop".

But I have to say that Plaid don't seem to be any more positive. Last year, the big announcement from Simon Thomas was that he wanted WM education to be available for all. It is already available for all now (if you're prepared to travel) and he fought shy of saying what I'd have wanted him to say, which is that it should be compulsory for all ... and that we needed to set out a plan for phasing this in over however many years it will take to get there. But the Plaid leadership don't really have firm policies like that, I think because they are scared that being pro-language will alienate voters.

So that's why we still need Cymdeithas, and protests like this.

Anonymous said...

MH - agree with you

Dai Coco - good news. Glad to see people in Labour support the language.

... now let's get a 2nd (!) Welsh medium primary school in Merthyr - something Huw Lewis as Edu Minister and Merthyr AM could sort out! No new WM school in Merthyr since 1976 - when Wigley was there and before the fall of the Berlin Wall!

MH said...

There are in fact two WM primaries in Merthyr: Santes Tudful in the town and Rhyd-y-Grug, which recently moved up from Quakers Yard to Aberfan. But I wouldn't say no to another one.

The worst council is Blaenau Gwent with only one WM school. There was a plan for a starter stream at Deighton Primary in Tredegar, but it might have been kicked into the long grass. I haven't heard anything for quite a while. Can anyone give an update on what's happening?

Anonymous said...

On the matter of welsh, you might be interested in this from linguist Noam Chomsky on language and culture from a speech he made on the Catalan language and uses welsh to reinforce the point.

“We should recognize that there is enormous loss when the cultural wealth of a society disappears and that's encapsulated crucially in its language."

The full speech on video is here

Anonymous said...

I support what Cymdeithas want to achieve but do you think that this is the correct wasy of going about it? I don't mind the painting but does it shake the Labour government in any way whatsoever? It seems not. They need another form of campaigning or maybe another target.......?

MH said...

I don't believe there is just one "correct" way of putting pressure on government, 20:18. There are many ways. But direct action is definitely one way, and I support what Cymdeithas are doing.

However if you feel you can't support this form of action, then act in some other way.

As for the target, who else is there to target except those responsible for making (or not making) decisions?

Anonymous said...

And what would happen if some group one day wanted to take 'direct action' against you or yours?

Would you still support it?

MH said...

Cymdeithas are not targeting individuals, but the Welsh Government.

Society is made up of all sorts of groups that do not agree. Therefore I have to accept that some groups might feel strongly enough to take direct action against something I agree with. Providing that they adhere to the principles I set out here, I would accept their right to do so, even though I would not support their cause.

But note that I have never said that those who take direct action should not be subject to the law. So if the action taken is criminal (and, as Kingsnorth shows, it may not be) they should expect to be punished accordingly. Being fined or going to prison is perhaps the most eloquent and persuasive way to show society at large how important you consider a particular issue to be.

Anonymous said...

12:26, Good, because it wouldn't do for you to be seen squealing at Plaid Cymru every time they fail to adhere to the correct procedure whilst condoning acts civil disobedience.

'The language' may be something special to you but it could also be said that the Wylfa project is equally special to Rhun ap Iorwerth and his band of merry men.

No more duplicity please. It is why most in this country are happy to leave our future in the hands of the less obviously duplicitous English.

Anonymous said...

Not so sure what sort of a Welsh society you are looking to build MH but it sure isn't one that I or the majority who advocate free speech and abidance by the laws of the land would welcome.

All is forgive Plaid Cymru and Rhun ap Iorwerth. You were right all along!

Anonymous said...

56% of people in Golwg360's survey thought that Cymdeithas's methods of protesting are effective. Only 35% thought they weren't.

Clearly Welsh speakers don't think obeying the law is more important than taking action about the language.

Anonymous said...

I am back......The target I had in mind would be the Labour Party. They have plenty of offices here in Wales and in London too. They are alos the ones making the decisions here in Wales. What do you think?

MH said...

I think you should be careful to ensure that any organization you target bears a measure of direct responsibility for what you are aggrieved about. You must make that choice for yourself ... and you must accept the consequences of your choice.

Anonymous said...

Re: your question about Blaenau Gwent and the plan to start a seedling school in Deighton Primary. As you say that is very much been put on the back burner, the main reason given as a lack of parental demand.
The issues that have been in BG is that the only WM Primary is located in Blaina (formally Brynmawr) on an industrial estate. This means a long trip across the heads of the valleys for anyone wanting WM education in the Tredegar / top sirhowy valley. There are two WM meithrins in Tredegar which have now been given the status (or are in the process of) as flying start providers which is key for the area. Also they have (or are in the process of) retesting as education providers and so will be able to keep the children for an extra until their ready for full statuary education and therefore qualify for free transport (this being crucial for transport from the Tredegar area over to Blaina) There is also plans in the latest WESP in partnership with Mudiad Meithrin to begin a provision in the Ebbw valley (again with flying start places) to also stimulate demand. The plan is that with this extra provision in the early years extra provision at primary level will follow.

Anonymous said...

Find these batch o protests futile always the same 3 or 4 protestors which seems to say nobody else is interested in supporting them, they need to change tactics and chose their battles, all a bit imature - and not thinking outside the box. and i am a cymdeithas supporter

Anonymous said...

"Only through civil disobedience................."

Is that really all that is left? Do you honestly think that these childish antics of criminal damage are going to persuade law-abiding Welsh folk to agree with your point of view.

MH said...

You're quoting what Cymdeithas said, Anon, so take that up with them.

Personally, I don't think it's the only way to make the point. But I think it's a perfectly proper way to do it, and they have my support.

Those who feel they should not, in any circumstances, take action that might break the law must find other ways to act. That's the position of those in Dyfodol, for example. That's OK. We should each act in the way we think best.

Anonymous said...

The point that I sought to make was that committing criminal damage to public building does nor endear these protesters to the law-abiding majority.

Civil disobedience does not have to include criminal damage. They merely cost us cash that we can ill afford in order to clean up their mess.

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