BBC’s Jeremy Bowen insists he’s ‘not against’ the Welsh language following backlash
Veteran Journalist Jeremy Bowen has insisted that he’s not “against” the Welsh language.
The Cardiff-born BBC Middle East Editor had come in for fierce criticism for claiming that the “determination” of the Welsh Government “to spread” the Welsh language “risks devaluing” his identity.
In response to the controversy about the comments on the BBC Radio 4 programme This Union: Being Welsh, Welsh speaking BBC journalist Gwyn Loader invited Bowen to watch Cardiff City with him in order to “witness the thriving bilingualism in his home city today”.
Jeremy Bowen replied: “Yes living bilingualism is great but also hoping for a pie & a City triumph. All I’d say to members of the ‘backlash’ is that I hope your views are based on listening to the series. Not on others’ tweets. Some I know didn’t listen before they tweeted. Listen, then decide.”
“If you listen to the programmes and still think I’m against the Welsh language (which I am not) tell me exactly what you don’t like and I will answer and explain my thinking.”
“What it means to be Welsh.”
In the three-part series, Bowen, who lives in the district of Camberwell, in London “returns home to Wales in search of what it means to be Welsh.”
He said: “A Welsh Government survey says now 70% in Wales can’t speak Welsh. About 20% of the population speak it regularly.
“Welsh Government’s determination to spread the language risks devaluing the identities of Welsh people like me”.
In response to the remarks, BBC colleague Huw Edwards said he does “like and respect” Bowen, but added that his “take is 1970s Cardiff”.
He also asked whether people should “stop speaking Welsh to make him feel better” and that he “thought criticising government policy was against” the BBC’s “rules”.
The Welsh Government’s Minister for Education and the Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles has pushed back against the remarks, stating that “Cymraeg belongs to us all” and that this is the case “whether we can speak a lot, or not”.
Plaid Cymru MS Delyth Jewell said the journalist’s “attitude reflects a divisive past” and that “modern Wales is a confident, bilingual nation”.
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