A row has broken out over the broadcast of a Newsnight episode where the host Evan Davis discussed the Welsh language with two people, Julian Ruck and Ruth Dawson, neither of whom spoke the language. The episode aired on Wednesday (Aug 9) has come in for heavy criticism from Welsh language campaigners.
Julian Ruck describes himself as an author, columnist and political commentator. Mr. Ruck is outspoken on the Welsh language and his blog contains a number of articles discussing the issue of the Welsh language. Today’s Wales Online article by Martin Shipton describes Mr Ruck as an ‘Anti Welsh Novelist’ who has ranted against the language on his website and in newspaper columns for years.
Ruth Dawson is a journalist and digital content specialist currently based in South Wales. At present, she is Wales editor for The Conversation. Dawson admitted to being a non fluent Welsh speaker and said that she could say the basics like ‘bore da’ and name the colours and numbers in Welsh.
Dawson was asked by the host Evans Davis what the benefit was of speaking Welsh?
She replied that it was a ‘huge part of our culture’ and lamented that she wished she could speak more Welsh.
Mr Ruck appeared to suggest that the money being spent on the Welsh language should be diverted to the health service and suggested that there was a conflict of interest when it came to the Welsh Language Commissioner Mary Hughes who was an ex chairwoman of the Welsh Language Society
Ruth Dawson insisted that in an ideal world everyone would be left to their own devices to learn Welsh and that it was not the easiest thing to learn.
Julian Ruck went on to say that children who went to Welsh medium schools came out unable to speak Welsh. He asked “Whats the point in all the money. It’s nonsense because S4C is down, Radio Cymru is down, the census of 2011 is down. All this money they are pumping into the language is not making more people speak welsh I mean that’s a fact.”
Ruth Dawson suggested that there may be an audience for learning Welsh online.
Evan Davis asked if Welsh language was a detriment to investment in Wales to which, Ruth Dawson replied, “I don’t see it as a barrier.”
Julian Ruck insisted that it was a nationalist argument, which turned companies away from Wales. He said that companies were being asked to come and work in Wales and then given a bill to convert everything into Welsh. He said: “They are going to take a hike.”
Speaking about the incident Welsh Language Minister Alun Davies said: “I thought it was lazy journalism it was shoddy journalism. I thought it displayed a little bit of chauvinism even. You couldn’t imagine any report on public service television about any other language and any other country being described in the way they described the Welsh language and the Welsh people last night. I believe the BBC needs to apologise but I think the BBC has to consider as well the judgement, the culture that allowed that item to be broadcast.”
Llanelli Online spoke to Owain Glennister who runs ‘Y Lle’ in Llanelli and is working at community level to promote the Welsh language. You can listen to that interview here.