Following 22 years of Labour’s rule over Wales, the Welsh language is vulnerable and in a perilous state and the aim of reaching one-million Welsh speakers by 2050 seems as far-away as ever, writes Dafydd Llyr Ellis.
The Welsh Conservatives should use Labour’s failure as a yardstick as what not do with our language and sought new and innovative ideas to encourage more people to speak and promote Welsh. This does not require the overhaul of every policy, simply a change in attitudes and direct monetary action.
Even though that the Welsh language is a key part of our nation’s culture and identity, currently it only dominates as a primary language in Gwynedd, Anglesey, and Carmarthenshire. Therefore, it is no good to introduce a new curriculum and a board to advise on changes to Welsh education if post-education, the Government expects the Welsh language to prosper on its own merits. The Conservatives must understand how Labour has failed Wales and its native language, we must offer a financial benefit for companies to ensure that workers can read, write, and communicate via the Welsh language.
Therefore, the Welsh Conservatives must be able to do away with Labour’s outdated, and inward ideas of wasting taxpayers’ resources trying to promote young people’s awareness of the Welsh language through costly, pointless advertisements. Instead, a system should be introduced that offers financial aid grants, based on the proportion of employees who can communicate through the medium of Welsh. This would give businesses a real incentive to support the language. There would be no need to spend taxpayers’ money on advertising the importance of the language, as companies would be willing to attend schools and centres to discuss the significance of the Welsh language to them, as it benefits their finances. Over time, people would realise the need to learn and appreciate the language as it would become an integral element to businesses in Wales.
Obviously, this would need to be supported by a totally bilingual education system, from nursery class until the end of GCSEs to ensure that every individual have been given equal opportunity to possess the same ability in both Welsh and English. Such a move would enhance and revitalise the Welsh language status within Wales. Such a system cannot be introduced overnight; therefore, a Welsh language programme should be introduced for workers that are already employed. These changes would have to be monitored by a commission to ensure that there is no abuse of money or discrimination of workers that are already in work.
Our rural communities across Wales are the backbone of the Welsh Language. Henceforth, it is pivotal that the Welsh Conservatives understand that in order to promote the language, subsidising family farms is integral to ensure that individuals and companies within those communities’ benefits from the trickledown effect of these payments. The Welsh countryside should be allowed to flourish now that we are free from the EU’s CAP, and yet the Welsh Labour Government appears to concentrate on doing quite the opposite, possibly crippling our rural areas with the proposed NVZ regulations and decimating the BPS system. The Welsh Conservatives must make clear their commitment to carry-on subsidising agriculture in Wales on current levels if it wants to ensure that our rural communities, the cornerstone of the Welsh language survives.
Major improvements must be made if the Welsh language is to survive and advance. Enough of the tick-the-box exercises and let put an end to Labour’s appetite for wasting taxpayer’s resources, we need decisive and momentous action if we are to create a long-lasting and positive effect on the Welsh language.
Dafydd Llyr Ellis is a young farmer and Welsh Conservative activist.