The Conservative group leader at Powys County Council has defended a fellow councillor and former parliamentary candidate after she said that she did not want to see the Welsh language “forced upon every nook and cranny of Wales”.
A petition has been signed by 950 people who want Amanda Jenner, the Conservative’s Ceredigion candidate at the last election, disciplined for negative comments she made about the Welsh language.
Conservative councillor Amanda Jenner made the comments in an article published on the Conservative.Home website, before being criticised by Plaid Cymru group leader Elwyn Vaughan at last week’s meeting.
The offending paragraph in the article which was on ‘policy devolution’ said: “I don’t want to see the Welsh language forced upon every nook and cranny of Wales, including upon those communities whose traditions and cultures may not have the Welsh Language embedded in them.”
The petition, which was set up by Elfed Jones, said: “We are calling on Powys County Council to discipline the councillor that made derogatory comments towards the Welsh language, and to provide every councillor with language awareness training.
“A Powys county councillor insulted the Welsh language and described efforts to teach the Welsh language as ‘Forcing the Language’.
“The Welsh Language is relevant to everyone in Wales, especially in Powys.
“For centuries the actions of people like this councillor has done nothing but split communities and attack the language. Enough is enough.”
But the Conservative group leader Cllr Aled Davies said that some “Mwynder Maldwyn” needed to be injected into the political discourse on the subject.
“Clearly Amanda is very supportive of our language, a learner herself, she wants Cymraeg (Welsh) to be the language of our communities by building consensus on how we can strengthen and increase its use day by day,” he said, in comments reported by the Local Democracy Reporting Service.
“Localism is about communities’ ownership of decisions making and their willingness to take actions.
“Without this, we will struggle to achieve the target of one million Welsh speakers.
“It is so important that everyone in Wales has the opportunity to learn and to use our language all day every day, Welsh Government and local authorities have a role to play but most important of all, our communities, must also do so much more.”
He also pointed out that Cllr Jenner has been abused by internet trolls social media.
Cllr Davies added: “Politics does not have to be this way, we should be free to discuss our ideas and make reasoned argument without vile abuse.
“Amanda is bursting with ideas for the future, we may not always agree but ychydig bach mwy o fwynder Maldwyn, os gwelwch yn dda (A bit more Montgomeryshire mildness/pleasantness please.)”
Plaid Cymru group leader in Powys, Cllr Elwyn Vaughan responded: “Recently we’ve had the Shrewsbury MP attacking Wales and wanting to be rid our Senedd.
“We now have had a county councillor wanting to stop forcing Welsh in parts of Wales and undermine the language.
“It’s the power of the strong to bash the weak, the language of the oppressor over the oppressed, the language of intolerance, and that’s why we have to call it out and condemn it.”
Councillor Jenner, who stood in December’s general election in Ceredigion and is tipped to stand there again in next year’s Welsh Parliament election, said she believed the paragraph has been taken out of context.
“The words are taken from article I wrote regarding policy I would like to see in the future in Wales,” she said.
“As explained in my article, I would like to see communities and local areas empowered and to lead on decision making for more things impacting their area, including growing the Welsh language.
“It is clear that I am talking about policy in the future. ”
She added that it was disappointing to see a Plaid Cymru councillor “seeking to create division”.