Over the last few decades our Celtic neighbours in Wales have seen the emergence of something approaching a national consensus on the importance of the Welsh language. Though there is still much progress to be made and lots of wrongs to be righted, relatively few people would now challenge the need to facilitate and encourage the use of the country’s indigenous speech in all aspects of society. Even in the much-contested sphere of politics there is no real controversy on the issue, whether on the nationalist or unionist sides. So it is odd to see a perspective parliamentary candidate for the Conservative Party getting local feelings so wrong while introducing herself to her would-be constituents in Wales. Especially one whose previous or even current links to the country are somewhat mysterious. The person in question is Selaine Saxby, a businesswoman and unsuccessful Tory candidate in the very English constituency of Salisbury, who’s been parachuted into Wales in the hopes of grabbing a parliamentary seat. Obviously her parachute training didn’t include a guide on politics in what for many English people is still a (disagreeable?) foreign country. From WalesOnline:
“A Conservative parliamentary candidate has come under fire from Plaid Cymru after suggesting the Welsh language would not be value for money if it was a business.
Selaine Saxby will be the Tory candidate at Llanelli in next May’s general election.
During a question time debate at Coedcae School in Llanelli, she said: “If the Welsh language was a business, it would not be value for money.”
Ms Saxby, who runs a sports bra business called Less Bounce based in Warminster, Wiltshire, also suggested cutting expenditure on the Welsh language.
Llanelli Plaid Cymru candidate Vaughan Williams said: “Ms Saxby seems to think that Welsh is like a foreign language such as French or German rather than our native language. Many students study Welsh as a first language in Wales and attend Welsh-medium schools. The Welsh language is a culture not a business…”
I wonder how Selaine Saxby feels about English language teaching and signage? Or would that be considered value for money?