Rhondda MP Chris Bryant challenged over language promotion tweet
A Chris Bryant tweet promoting bilingualism has sparked questions about his past attitudes towards the Welsh language.
The Labour MP, who is a fluent Spanish speaker, sent out a message about the benefits of learning a second language and how it allows people to ‘see life from another perspective’.
While the general sentiment was overwhelmingly welcomed, questions were also raised about Chris Bryant’s previous opinions about the Welsh language.
A very good idea and suggestion. But it's a shame you used this very topic to create division not so long ago. I've no problem with promoting bilingualism, in fact I welcome it, but don't use the Welsh language as a political point scoring tool. It's worth more than that. https://t.co/r2dbB9obzt pic.twitter.com/JZaOzuNo8q
— Bethan 🏴 (@bethphill_) July 10, 2021
During the 2019 General Election campaign, Bryant posted a Facebook video in which he criticised the Plaid candidate, Branwen Cennard, as being ‘obsessed’ with the Welsh language.
He stated: “Here in the Rhondda of course it’s quite specifically about who do we want to be the MP for the Rhondda.
“Who will we have confidence in when they stand up in the chamber of the House of Commons and make that argument for the Rhondda?
“Is it going to be the Plaid candidate, who is obsessed with the language and with independence for Wales?”
He went on to win the Rhondda election with a majority of 11,400 – Branwen Cennard finished in third place, behind the Conservative candidate.
Chris Bryant later deleted the video after receiving criticism, particularly from Leanne Wood, for using the Welsh language as a ‘slur’ but declined to issue an apology. Welsh Labour said that he had ‘regretted’ the post.
The Labour MP’s recent tweet also attracted the attention of BBC broadcaster Huw Edwards who responded:
This is so wise Chris. My language teacher friends are still disappointed by the Labour government’s ending of compulsory modern language GCSE in England in 2004. It led to a massive slump in the numbers taking languages. 🏴 🇪🇸🇫🇷 🇩🇪 https://t.co/T6QKjSME93
— Huw Edwards (@huwbbc) July 10, 2021
Despite the criticisms of his past attitudes, Chris Bryant has also spoken out in favour of the Welsh language. In 2016, he called for MPs to be allowed to speak Welsh during meetings of the Welsh grand committee.