As evidence for his view that Welsh was unnecessary, he pointed to the fact that the Welsh word for neutron was the same as the English. Others have already pointed out that this is not something which is exactly unique to Wales. The word itself derives from Latin, of course. Perhaps we’ve inadvertently stumbled upon the solution to the not insignificant educational problems of England as well – insisting on using English rather than Latin as the medium of instruction is clearly holding them back.
Why anyone would expect the MP for Lichfield to have any useful expertise on matters educational in Wales (even if he does have, as he reminds us from time to time, some Welsh ancestry) is almost as big a mystery as why anyone would take what he has to say seriously. The point, if there is one, isn’t really about him or the specific point that he made, but about what it tells us about an underlying attitude – ignorance, even – towards Wales, and the Welsh language, amongst those who still make most of our laws.
I don’t blame Keith Davies AM for picking up on that point – although, to be honest, I can perfectly well believe that a similar attitude is shared by many other MPs in London, Labour as well as Tory. Why on earth, though, did Mr Davies have to pursue the all-too-common political ruse of demanding an apology from the Tories? It almost invited the even sillier response from the Welsh Tories that “Carwyn Jones is the only person who should be apologising…”.
A serious point about underlying attitudes towards our language in the corridors of power was turned into a slanging match about who should apologise for what and to whom. And they wonder why politics turns people off?
I really don’t care whether the Tories give a meaningless and insincere apology for the words of one of their members or not. And I don’t care either whether Carwyn Jones gives an equally meaningless and insincere apology for the state of education in Wales. I do care about changing the attitudes towards our language, and I care even more about sorting out the educational system in Wales. I’d have a bit more respect for politicians if I thought that they cared about those things as much as they care about being seen to try and extract pointless apologies.