A lot has been written about Carmarthenshire council in recent years. Little of it complimentary. I have more than once referred to the Labour-Independent coalition running the council as a ‘Nazi-Soviet pact’. Though in fairness to both, the council is actually controlled and run by one of its employees, the chief executive, Mark James. This despot has a penchant for litigation, so I’d better be careful what I say . . .
Another regular complaint has been over the way the council has been cosying up to an evangelical church – the Towy Community Church – lavishing upon this crew funding, property and, most worryingly of all, responsibility for delivering certain services . . . to the vulnerable, the desperate . . . that’s right! – those most likely to succumb to proselytising. Just the way Green Pastures and so many other religious ‘charities’ operate. The Towy Community Church also keeps bad company, being linked with Mercy Ministries, who believe in demonic possession and other ‘evils’ that would have been familiar to the Inquisition or the citizens of Salem, Massachusetts. One reason suggested for this odd linkage is the fact that Mark James himself belongs to yet another happy clappy, hunt-the-demons assembly, Living Word Church, and he often pops in for services at the TCC.
What is it with the Labour Party, the secular and ‘progressive’ party that I grew up with, the Labour Party that promised us the sunlit uplands of rationality and progress, that it now associates with ranters wanting to drag us back to the Middle Ages? Anyway, moving on to the reason for this post.
Discover Carmarthenshire, the tourism arm of the council, recently put out a “video” (video!) advertising Llanelli to potential visitors. Then, “As part of the department’s research, the draft was sent to a family member of one of the members of staff, who works as a civil servant in Sheffield. She shared it with 10 of her colleagues”, reported the Evening Post today. The response from the Yorkshire audience was that the young boy doing the voiceover was “too Welsh”. Oh dear! So Discover Carmarthenshire found someone else, less Welsh, to do the voiceover.
Before considering the issues involved here it might be worth stating that as the story circulated on social media and in other ways the Evening Post seemed to hurriedly re-write it, with the council adding that the reason the boy was difficult to understand was because he had lost his front teeth . . . in which case, why use him in the first place? As the day went on the Evening Post also slipped in a quote from Plaid Cymru. At 3pm the Evening Post online version stopped taking comments. At this point it might be worth reminding ourselves that the editor of the Evening Post is now Jonathan Roberts, former editor of what became Carmarthenshire Council’s out-house rag, the Carmarthen Journal.
Our first thought has to be for the boy involved. One minute the lad gets his moment of glory, the next he’s told, ‘Piss off, you’re too Welsh’. Or how was it explained to him? And what effect will it have on him, and his self-confidence? Here’s a young Welsh boy, in his own country, his own town, and he’s being told that it doesn’t pay to sound – or to be? – Welsh.
Someone in England doesn’t like the sound of a Welsh boy’s voice, so a Welsh local authority cravenly surrenders to that bigotry. If it was a Welsh person who took that decision then they should be ashamed of themselves. If, as seems likely, it was an English person, then what right have you to pass judgement on how we speak? Whose country is this? But whoever made the decision, it was an insult to all of us who speak with Welsh accents. Most especially, to the people of Llanelli.
Some time ago Llanelli town councillors discussed the possibility of the town breaking away from the county, it may now be time to re-visit that option. This insult should be used by all political parties claiming to represent Llanelli to force the ‘Welsh’ Government into ringing down the curtain on the insulting farce that is Carmarthenshire County Council.