Support our Nation today - please donate here
News

English writer Jonathan Meades brands plan to increase Welsh speakers ‘totalitarian’

06 Feb 2022 4 minute read
Jonathan Meades. Laurence Sterne Trust staff (CC 4.0)

The English writer Jonathan Meades has branded the plan to increase the number of Welsh speakers as a “totalitarian project”.

The author and film maker made the claim about the Welsh Government’s target for a million speakers of the language in a column for The Critic.

The policy is supported by every political party with democratic representation in the Senedd, and has widespread public support according to opinion polls.

In an article littered with derogatory comments about the language, Meades branded it “moribund”.

He also claimed that it is a “tool not only of communication but of identity and exclusivity, thus of self-harm and curtailment”.

The writer also complained about the move to give Welsh and English “equal” status in Wales, and claimed that the Welsh Government has a “splendid breeding programme based on lebensborn: women will be paid to bear children so that they can be brought up Welsh”.

He suggested that the policy for a bilingual Wales was putting children in a “linguistic straightjacket”

The Welsh comedian Elis James responded to the article, saying: “I suppose I shouldn’t give this the oxygen of publicity, but it never fails to amaze me how many of these articles get written.

“The UK must be one of the few places in the world where bilingualism is somehow seen as a negative. And it’s dismissing hundreds of thousands of people.”

In his column for The Critic, Jonathan Meades wrote: “Kingsley Amis in The Old Devils: “’A sign used to say Taxi and now said Taxi/Tacsi for the benefit of Welsh people who had never seen a letter X before.’

“Whatever officious authority erected that sign was merely boasting about Wales’s precious particularity, its specialness, its not being England. Further, the populace was patronised as if it was comprised of children, to be bossed about by Cymraeg 2050. 

“This is the Welsh Government’s totalitarian project which aims to have one million people speaking Welsh by that date. That’s twice the (much exaggerated) number that is currently claimed to speak the language. What, in this context, does ‘speak’ mean?

“The capacity to make a simple purchase? Or the ability to discuss why R.S. Thomas, a fundamentalist nationalist whose politics could be ugly and naive but whose poetry is thrillingly harsh, seldom composed in Welsh (which he had begun to learn in middle age) and then with a certain trepidation. Thomas  wrote of his compatriots: ‘An impotent people sick with inbreeding.’

“In an effort to maintain that sickness, a minimum of 60 extra ‘Welsh-medium nursery groups’ will be opened by 2026. Why? Why teach a moribund language whose survival depends on ‘initiatives’? Policy decrees these speakers are needed. Needed for what? For the sake of Welshness perhaps, to give the bogus bardic tradition new legs?”

‘Lingua franca’

He added: “Despite the folly of Brexit, English, thanks to America, remains the global lingua franca. An approximation of it is spoken and partially understood by billions. Welsh is spoken by a few hundred thousand people, less than a fifth of Wales’s population. Yet the government intends to make ‘Welsh and English equal’. 

“So long as it’s a hobby language it is as harmless as a Sunday painter. But in pockets of Snowdonia and mid-Wales it is a tool not only of communication but of identity and exclusivity, thus of self-harm and curtailment.

“Imagine the lot of a child brought up monoglot Welsh by parents who, likely as not, were anglophone and possess the sinister fervour of the converted — more Welsh than the Welsh.

“This child is condemned by a linguistic straitjacket to a lifetime in Caernarvon or Blaenau Ffestiniog. In the former, a few years ago, a shopkeeper affected not to understand English. Similarly in Antwerp (Anvers) a barman refused to serve a drink ordered in French. Such vain Canutism doubtless exists the world over, creating divisions, fomenting tribalism, feeding delusions.

“The Welsh government evidently has an appetite for acting like a prefect. Its linguistic authoritarianism is not its only current exercise in social engineering.

“It has a splendid breeding programme based on lebensborn: women will be paid to bear children so that they can be brought up Welsh. The daftest of many daft proposals is that ethnic minorities should be encouraged to learn Welsh — and thus be burdened with a double handicap.”


Support our Nation today

For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

85 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Alistair Wylie
Alistair Wylie
9 months ago

The English are famous around the world as monoglots, and it sometimes seems as if they feel that any attempt to learn any other language (or even pronounce place names properly) is some kind of betrayal of their “nationality”. Or maybe they’re just too reserved.

Kerry Davies
Kerry Davies
9 months ago
Reply to  Alistair Wylie

Nope, too arrogant, ignorant and lazy. They also tend to be hypocrites to the bone as is Meades, who has lived in France since 2007.
Mind you anyone who can write a book entitled “The Joy of Essex” needs pity as much as disdain.

Richard
Richard
9 months ago
Reply to  Alistair Wylie

This guy has certainly lived a full life if one reads his Wiki file !,

A facination with the lives of evil dictators , a range of wives and a apparantly an excellent cook added to a hatred for those with Christian or Faith centred lives.

Louise
Louise
9 months ago
Reply to  Alistair Wylie

I’m tamping !! (Not at you , at the article) Nos da pawb.

John Brooks
John Brooks
9 months ago

Where do you start……….?

Andrew Thomas
Andrew Thomas
9 months ago

Yawn yawn same old nonsense has he ever been to Wales probably annoyed Wales isn’t the playground he wants it to be

Ed Jones
Ed Jones
9 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Thomas

He’ll be at Hay Festival soon no doubt!

Dai
Dai
9 months ago
Reply to  Ed Jones

Duw a’n gwaredo!

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
9 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Thomas

More annoyed that Welsh has survived.

Stephen Owen
Stephen Owen
9 months ago

What total ruddish, what does Jonathan Meades know about Wales or the Welsh language?

Kaiskama
Kaiskama
9 months ago
Reply to  Stephen Owen

Jonathan who ?? never heard of him before today.
I haven’t missed anything

Stephen Owen
Stephen Owen
9 months ago
Reply to  Stephen Owen

I wrote rubbish wrongly due to Dyslexia

Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
9 months ago

Just the latest wannabe in a long list of Wales haters looking to win the AA Gill award for who can abuse the Welsh nation and our language the most 😡. Let them carry on – it just makes our resolve and determination to secure independence for Wales even stronger 😉

Last edited 9 months ago by Leigh Richards
Nobby Tart
Nobby Tart
9 months ago
Reply to  Leigh Richards

I’m waiting to see if Davies, Hart or Cairns back him up.

Richard
Richard
9 months ago
Reply to  Nobby Tart

They are too busy my friend supporting Guto in his new role

Last edited 9 months ago by Richard
Andrew
Andrew
9 months ago

He sounds like someone who had his football taken off him on holiday by a Welsh kid when he was young. A bitter and arrogant individual who is clearly a racist.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
9 months ago

A thousand year old lie has to be repeated constantly…fear and guilt insists that every generation must repeat it…

Argol Fawr!
Argol Fawr!
9 months ago

Not content to get his crooked opinion over, he wants to insult as well. So itself.
creating a division he purports the promotion of Welsh brings. He even deliberately chose to spell Caernarfon incorrectly. The Prat.

Grayham Jones
9 months ago

Stupid people in wales will read English newspapers instead of being welsh and listening to English news they are letting wales down badly we in wales have got to stop being little Englanders and be proud to be welsh it’s time for a new wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿

Llwynog Abertawe
Llwynog Abertawe
9 months ago
Reply to  Grayham Jones

I would like to read more in Welsh, but we haven’t really got any quality Welsh newspapers yet, which keeps me stuck with The Times and the Guardian
(As a Welsh learner, I do sometimes read Y Cymro but it hasn’t got everything – I do watch Newyddion S4C though)

Carol Loughlin
Carol Loughlin
9 months ago
Reply to  Grayham Jones

*Welsh *Wales

Tellyesin
Tellyesin
9 months ago

Well it’s utter bollux of course. What is interesting is why is he saying this and why is he saying this now?

Ed Jones
Ed Jones
9 months ago
Reply to  Tellyesin

Looking for a gig at GBNews?

Quornby
Quornby
9 months ago
Reply to  Tellyesin

Well spotted. It’s part of the “we are all united” nonsense dreamed up by some p***head at a Downing Street illegal party.

Cai Wogan Jones
Cai Wogan Jones
9 months ago

This is scarcely newsworthy. There is nothing surprising in the views expressed by Meades because they are absolutely mainstream in the English establishment including the mainstream media over the border.

Hogyn y Gogledd
Hogyn y Gogledd
9 months ago

If promoting the language in our schools is “totalitarian”, what does that say about the Welsh Not?

Mark
Mark
9 months ago

After writing such bile, do these cretins expect a warm welcome should they visit Wales?

SerenLlyn
SerenLlyn
9 months ago
Reply to  Mark

I ‘d be happy for Meibion to give them a warm welcome……

Nobby Tart
Nobby Tart
9 months ago

Does he feel the same way about Catalan, for example?

Hogyn y Gogledd
Hogyn y Gogledd
9 months ago
Reply to  Nobby Tart

You think he’s even heard of it?

Mick Tems
Mick Tems
9 months ago

Why does Meades despise and hate Wales and the Welsh culture with an absolute venom?

Ed Jones
Ed Jones
9 months ago
Reply to  Mick Tems

Because it is everything he is not, romantic, welcoming and beautiful!

Ed Jones
Ed Jones
9 months ago

The simple question to ask this clearly important and oh so witty chap is why does my Welsh language vex you so much? Is it really any of your business? Oh, by the by, taxi is of Greek and German origin, as indeed is much that is now regarded as English, thrown in with a lot of French, mongrel is the word to describe it, just like Mr Meades in fact. The Critic would appear to have a problem with Wales, it is becoming mutual…

tired of this
tired of this
9 months ago

This is deeply depressing. I have been an enthusiast of Meades since way back when – the Eighties or earlier – and I have all his books and copies of most of his television programmes. And to be honest nothing in his writing or tv material would have prepared me for this. Equally, I don’t think there’s much evidence that he has ever been further west than the Severn. The takeaway from this is that essentially no English person, no matter how intellectually able, or widely travelled, or experienced with other cultures, can be wholly trusted to expound on Wales… Read more »

Last edited 9 months ago by tired of this
Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
9 months ago
Reply to  tired of this

‘English’ and ‘cosmoplitan’ are mutually exclusive.

tired of this
tired of this
9 months ago
Reply to  Barry Pandy

I fear you may be more right today than at any other time in the last 100 years. I’m still particularly upset by Meades; it is kind of like suddently discovering your best friend was a jailor, rapist and torturer for an occupying foreign power. I did for a moment consider ditching my Meades collection – which is a treasure to me – but that’s giving in to the worst aspects of cancel culture – if we dump everything because of someone’s misdeeds we’ll have nothing left (but others may choose as they see fit). Incidentally, if Meades wants to… Read more »

Richard
Richard
9 months ago

Wow. Lucky he doesnt live in Afganistan or Russia or North Korea —-or indeed 1930s Germany.

He enjoys the tolerance and understanding of a modern outward looking set of nations across these islands where bigots and others of that type can feel safe from the potential harms of the countries listed above.

So sad for the very many in England who would be horrified by the zenophbia he articulates.

defaid
defaid
9 months ago

Oh, really! “Awaiting for approval” again?

Why?

Richard
Richard
9 months ago
Reply to  defaid

Look this guy up on Wiki ……amazing mix of views and wives ,,,

defaid
defaid
9 months ago
Reply to  Richard

I did. Right before submitting the comment that didn’t get posted…

Richard
Richard
9 months ago
Reply to  defaid

I think one in three orfour of my posts gets the same – so fingers crossed on this one 🤔

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
9 months ago
Reply to  defaid

I’m getting that a lot as well, and I’m not even being contraversial or rude.

I.Humphrys
I.Humphrys
9 months ago
Reply to  Padi Phillips

#me too.

Stephen Owen
Stephen Owen
9 months ago

Jonathan Meades’ career must be flagging so he made ridiculous comments about the Welsh language so he can get noticed. Just shows ignorance of a subject is no bar to pontificating on it

Arfon Jones
Arfon Jones
9 months ago

Who is he? Is he an influencer and who reads the Critic. I’ve never heard if him or the publication. Nothing to see here.

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
9 months ago

The irony is that he can’t see that cultural genocide is totalitarian. Typical of his ‘class’ of Englishman, a bigoted tw@t.

I.Humphrys
I.Humphrys
9 months ago
Reply to  Barry Pandy

Gore Vidal launched a ferocious attack on them a few years ago. Perhaps he was right?

Last edited 9 months ago by I.Humphrys
Paul
Paul
9 months ago

It is well past time that these vile English supremacists were prosecuted for their hate speech. See how funny he finds it when he is living in a cardboard box and the Urdd are throwing parties on the proceeds from his house sale.

Quornby
Quornby
9 months ago

Doesn’t this jackass realise that all Welsh children are fluent in English after it was beat into their forebears by the servants of the empire? Furthermore anyone making a point by referring to “lebensborn” and other nazi atrocities in order to attack a modern democratic nation needs to look very hard in the mirror. I suggest the editor of the “Critic” does likewise before publishing this racist drivel.

Last edited 9 months ago by Quornby
O Rob
O Rob
9 months ago

Rhech fawr yn drewi dim

Mr Williams
Mr Williams
9 months ago

Let’s call this out for what it is: anti-Welsh racism!

Last edited 9 months ago by Mr Williams
George
George
9 months ago

Until he show me the community who cannot speak English to a good level because they’ve chosen to communicate in Welsh then his opinion is attention seeking rubbish.

It’s literally ridiculous to suggest that English is spoken by billions and understood by people thousands of miles away from England but it’s such a weak langauge that it’s not made it next door.

Someone has, presumably. paid him to write this and probably because they know that it gets attention both by fierce critics and fierce supporters of the language.

tired of this
tired of this
9 months ago
Reply to  George

On recent figures English is the most spoken language (just over 1 billion humans) but that simply means that that number of people have *some facility* with English and not that they speak it every day in normal social circumstances. For that they use their own local languages. Pretty much every Dutch person and most of the Scandinavians and almost all the Asian people I know have very good English, but don;t try and tell them that they speak it round the table in Malmo Shanghai or Rotterdam. And frankly, I know a lot of people who are native English… Read more »

Ieuan Evans
Ieuan Evans
9 months ago

Its a shame he can’t engage his brain first. But there again you’d need a brain in the first place. What a moron.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
9 months ago

So every nation on this planet who teach their citizens their own native language according to bigot Jonathan Meades are effectively totalitarian states. But if we take him seriously, isn’t that the norm, which means this can be said of England too?. Man’s speaking out of his behind.

Last edited 9 months ago by Y Cymro
Mawkernewek
9 months ago

It seems the usual set of comments for some English media personage, deciding to take a pop at the Welsh, to revive their public profile, working on the principle of any publicity is good publicity.
Until he starts going on about Nazis and Lebensborn, making him sound actually deranged.

Dewi Lewis
Dewi Lewis
9 months ago

A shame he is not better read or better educated.

hdavies15
hdavies15
9 months ago

Monoglot Fascist uses typical deflection tactic. “Oooh, that’s Fascist, xenophobic, racist ……”. I think we need to tackle such rubbish head on and expose it for what it is. We had a guts full of it last summer when the weirdos hijacked YC and that didn’t end well, did it ?

Lionel Fensch
Lionel Fensch
9 months ago
Reply to  hdavies15

He’s not a monoglot. He studied at Universities in Spain and France.

Probably knows Latin and Greek.wuerea

Wrexhamian
Wrexhamian
9 months ago
Reply to  Lionel Fensch

Even less excuse for his bigotry, then.

Lionel Fensch
Lionel Fensch
9 months ago
Reply to  Wrexhamian

He has expressed an opinion. Him only

However, true to form, scores of you have seen red and gone into your faux moral superiority of “All English are ignorant monoglots and everyone hates them and loves the Welsh because they speak 19 languages.” Etc, etc.

In reality, anyone can see that very few regular commenters on here can speak Welsh. Even fewer can speak any other language.

But true to form, you have all been ignited into this anger by someone writing about an insiginificant article in gods knows what publication and made it moral and personal.

Again and again.

Ed Jones
Ed Jones
9 months ago
Reply to  Lionel Fensch

Am unsure just how you can determine what language we speak? I reply mostly in English, as that is the language most comments are written in. I am fluent in Welsh and English and am confident in 5 others too, all European I just realised, must do something about. Anyway… Your usage of the word ‘you’ is interesting, it can often imply an ‘us and them’ scenario. Do you dislike the Welsh? Do you deny us the right to stand up for our language? As an aside, after a wee count of your own ‘personal’ remarks (“However, true to form,… Read more »

Lionel Fensch
Lionel Fensch
9 months ago
Reply to  Ed Jones

5 languages?

Yeah right.

Ed Jones
Ed Jones
9 months ago
Reply to  Lionel Fensch

Latin and Greek is not that not hard to learn, people think it is as they mistakenly see that these languages are the preserve of those taught in the more privileged of schools. As to his academic prowess, I gather was at Bordeaux for a year – the course followed could have been in English, Europeans certainly have no problem with coping with more than one language! As for his studies in Spain, I could not find mention of it anywhere., no matter, his attendance of a university in another country does not mean that he is conversant in any… Read more »

Lionel Fensch
Lionel Fensch
9 months ago
Reply to  Ed Jones

“Latin and Greek is ( sic) not hard to learn ”

So the majority of commenters on here speak those instead of Welsh for that reason then?

John Davies
John Davies
9 months ago

The point of spelling it “tacsi” is not for the benefit of “Welsh who are unfamiliar with the letter X”. It is to remind beef-witted Sais third-raters (whether they be called Amis or Meades) that they are not in England!

Robert Griffiths
Robert Griffiths
9 months ago

An Englishman in his 70’s living in retirement in France terrified of the Welsh language and it’s speakers. You couldn’t make it up! What a strange guy. Dos i grafu Meades.

Dai
Dai
9 months ago

This outburst is par for his opinionated course. Inter alia, Meades is an enthusiast for Brutalist architecture. He does himself live in the Brutalist Unité d’habitation in Marseilles, but had he been obliged to live in some of the Brutalist buildings in the banlieues of Paris or in British Brutalist towns like Stevenage, East Kilbride, Irvine, Peterborough, Livingston, Basildon or Corby, he might have a different perspective on his architectural dreams. It is so easy to pontificate about matters of which one has no personal experience.

I.Humphrys
I.Humphrys
9 months ago
Reply to  Dai

(We must resist this type of housing in Cymru, keep it low and comfortable on the eye. No Corbusian nightmares, please.)

Last edited 9 months ago by I.Humphrys
Tim
Tim
9 months ago

The intensity of the exuberantly ignorant Jonathan Meades’ enmity towards the Welsh people is exceeded only by the free-wheeling mendacity of his Lower-Sixth maunderings. He’d never even land work experience as a cub reporter on the ‘Somerset Free Press’. This is how Donald Trump would sound if he’d been to a minor English public school.

Howard Edwards
Howard Edwards
9 months ago

Meades’ article is actually evil, and racist. However, if anything, his publicity may even spur more people to learn Welsh. Meades’ linguistic attitudes are parochial and belong to the colonial and imperialist nineteenth century. He has absolutely no understanding of the advantages of being bilingual or even multilingual. A large proportion of the many adults who are learning Welsh in Wales are English, and many of them have become very fluent. I have had the great privilege of teaching Welsh to adults, many of whom are English. In my career as a Welsh Language tutor-organiser for adults, (before which, I… Read more »

I.Humphrys
I.Humphrys
9 months ago
Reply to  Howard Edwards

That seems to be the case. Duo Lingo is a good way if one is away from Cymru?

Rhosddu
Rhosddu
9 months ago

Even by the usual standards of right wing anti-Wales racists, this rant masquerading as an opinion piece is hard to beat. Combining bigoted comments and factually incorrect claims, it moves on to outlandish comparisons with Nazi Germany that lead me to the conclusion that this man Meades is tottering close to the edge of insanity.

Kenneth Brown
Kenneth Brown
9 months ago

I live in a city where the Asian community is vast and i have also worked with them and the vast majority of them won’t even speak in English so for that Jonathon Meade to make a statement about the Welsh language is totally unacceptable the Welsh people are being encouraged to speak their own language when in their own circles not to replace the English language !!

Gareth Wyn Jones
Gareth Wyn Jones
9 months ago

We see their ugly fascist faces in open sight. Rejoice for they have shown themselves for what they are! We are better then them, much, much better

Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
9 months ago

Take heart, the reason there are more attacks on the Welsh language these days is because we Welsh have finally woken up. We can smell the scent of independence on the horizon and many in England, stuck in their archaic ways, resent it. We have an op-out clause from this horrendous Union they haven’t. They can attack all they like – it is too late. I’m looking forward to the day when we can look them in the eye and say – goodbye.

adopted cardi
adopted cardi
9 months ago
Reply to  Steve Duggan

Me too. As for Mr Meades, well, a total Irrelevant waste of space – sorry to even mention him!

Lionel Fensch
Lionel Fensch
9 months ago
Reply to  Steve Duggan

“many in England stuck in their archaic ways”.. Do you listen to yourself.

England is one of the most diverse countries in the Western world and has schools and colleges teaching languages you wouldn’t have heard.

What is so archaic about Englad compared to Wales? The 100 people in Wales who did GCSE German last year? The EU will be beating the door down.

Johnny Gamble
Johnny Gamble
9 months ago
Reply to  Lionel Fensch

Yeah diversity which is frowned upon by your lovely right wing media.Rioting over the years in Brixton,Notting Hill Gate and Bradford by people who don’t feel part of your wonderful diverse society.According to your ilk how it was only White Anglo Saxons who won WW2.There is another world past The White cliffs of Dover you 🤡

Ed Jones
Ed Jones
9 months ago
Reply to  Lionel Fensch

Am guessing most Welsh people could spell England!

Peter Cuthbert
Peter Cuthbert
9 months ago

One must ask why NC bothers to report a story like this or any of the other similar ones that we have had recently. Lots of folk seem to be keen to criticise Wales/Welshness of late, presumably because of instructions from the De Piffle Regime. Should we not be ignoring such froth and reading about issues that are important to Wales?

Doctor Trousers
9 months ago

There is a phrase in the field of psychology: projection.
I suspect it may go a long way towards explaining this tendency within British cultural identity, this irrational, conspiratorial fear that other languages and cultures are going to be forcibly imposed upon them.

Last edited 9 months ago by Doctor Trousers
Euros Jones
Euros Jones
9 months ago

Yet he has lived in France for the last 11 years!! “Discovering that they found country life boring, they then moved to Marseille in around 2011, where they live in Le Corbusier‘s Unité d’habitation apartment block.[53][22][2]” (wikipedia)

Our Supporters

All information provided to Nation.Cymru will be handled sensitively and within the boundaries of the Data Protection Act 2018.