Why is everything going down-market?
SIR – It seems the UK is hell- bent on diminishing our lovely vocabulary to a few expressions which are repeated time after time in preference to expanding our knowledge of words.
The words “fantastic”, “fabulous”, “you know”, “you know what I mean”, “brilliant”, “to be honest”, “basically” and “no problem” are grossly overused and completely out of context.
The way things are progressing, news items will be littered with expletives.
Why is it that everything is going down-market? Are we becoming that idle not to want to improve ourselves, too lazy to prevent losing what we should hold so previous?
Etymology is something we should all aspire to achieve but on present form this is fast becoming a non-achievable goal.
Femish Close, St Florence, Tenby
A Celtic Assembly
SIR – Plaid Cymru is certainly right to press for a referendum on a Welsh Parliament.
Why, can anyone explain, does Wales always have to have less power and control over its own affairs than Scotland or Northern Ireland?
The National Assembly should be replaced by a parliament of 100 members, with 18 of its regional list members working on Wales’ behalf in a Celtic Assembly.
The remainder of the parliament’s members would sit for 40 dual-member constituencies (80 members) plus the remaining two regional list members.
The Celtic Assembly could he held at Stormont, in the chamber currently occupied by the Northern Ireland Assembly, which could down-size to just over half (65 members) and be held in a smaller, refurbished chamber.
The Celtic Assembly would consist of 108 members – 18 from each of the Celtic countries.
At present, Wales is way over-represented at Westminster, as the ideal number of MPs is 33 (worked out on percentage of population to number of seats).
However, my contention is that we should have 50 politicians per million people, therefore, the number of MPs at Westminster, after the advent of a Welsh Parliament, would be 36.
The above is easily achievable by merging Alyn & Deeside with Wrexham, Islwyn with Caerphilly and Pontypridd with Rhondda and Cynon Valley.
An opportunity would also present itself, for the Brown government to have a radical shake-up at Westminster, they could scrap the House of Lords and use that chamber for the British Parliament, thus allowing the House of Commons to become an English Parliament.
Surely, that would solve the West Lothian question for good.
Vale View, Tredegar, Blaenau
Welsh for the future
SIR – In response to VH Vokins’s letter of July 19 about the expense of the Welsh language, as a new learner who for many years has felt cheated that my national language was not mine from birth due to the misplaced belief by my grandparents and parents that my generation would benefit more from only speaking English, it is with despondency that I read VH Vokins’s views on how the language should be sidelined or even dispensed with in favour of an all-English-speaking nation.
I meet learners of all levels everyday and can say that far from being dead the language thrives in communities all over Cymru, and, in fact is going from strength to strength through courses such as Wlpan and Cwrs Mynediad.
As a parent of a teenager I and many others not only condone and encourage the teaching of Welsh classes in schools, but strive to learn it ourselves so that we can converse with our children in what is a bilingual society and country.
VH Vokins may feel that Welsh speakers and learners are a minority and that money spent on the language should be channelled elsewhere; but can I point out that I and many learners gladly pay for our lessons which are not free as are many of the English courses given to immigrants to this country.
Finally, Cymru has always been a bilingual country. The concept is nothing new, it has simply been enshrined in the Welsh Language Act 1993. Despite hundreds of years of English language domination, Cymraeg continues to be spoken and avidly learnt not by extreme nationalists but by everyday men and women all over the country who do so for personal, social, and economic reasons.
Freedom of speech is a democratic right, and I claim my right as a tax-paying citizen of Cymru to have a tiny proportion of the nation’s finances spent on the nation’s language so I and the following generations can speak our national tongue.
SEIRIAN CELYN GWENLLIAN TOMOS
Sandfields, Port Talbot
SIR – May I reply to VH Vokins’s letter (July 18), in which he claims his democratic rights must take precedence over tens of thousands of Welsh speakers’ human rights.
A civilised society takes care of its minorities, which certainly was not the case in Wales throughout the centuries.
I was discouraged from speaking Welsh in school and my father, my grandfather and my great grandfather were threatened with a beating if they were caught speaking Welsh in school.This was during the time when democracy was curtailed in the UK as half the population, namely women, had no voting rights.
Fourteen years ago a dear friend of mine, shortly before his death, related an incident which happened to him when he was 10 or 11 years old. At lunch time he helped a widow drive her sow along the road to the local boar. This was during the First World War and food was scarce, so he thought he would do his bit for the war effort, making sure that there would be bacon around in the coming months. Unfortunately he was half an hour late arriving back in school. The head demanded the reason for his being late. Living in a Welsh speaking area on the edge of town, he could not remember what a female pig was in English. He was given two strokes of the cane, not for being late, but for not knowing the English word “sow”. To his dying day he thought that he had been unjustly treated. Especially as Welsh speakers were dying in their thousands on the Western Front to “save” Belgium. Little did he know then that the French establishment in Belgium treated the Flemish speakers in the same way that he was being treated by the English Establishment here in Wales.
As far as saving money is concerned, look to the East and see how the London Government squanders billions of pounds on useless projects especially military ones. “Not fit for purpose” can be attributed to many Whitehall departments.This is where real waste takes place.
ARFON H. EVANS
Caerhun, Bangor, Gwynedd
SIR – Wales, as most people are aware, is a net exporter of power. We possess however not a single mile of electrified railway.
The infrastructure of the Swansea District Line meanwhile shows every sign of closure-motivated neglect. Readers who travel regularly in England may have noticed that motorways over the border exhibit the extraordinary innovation of three or more lanes. We might expect that Welsh MPs would be banging the drum about modernisation and improvement on the grounds that the Welsh also pay taxes.
Naturally such an expectation would be foolish. A group of has-been and never-quite-made-it Labour Westminster MPs have been too busy whingeing to their London betters about our bilingual station announcements (Western Mail, July 18) to notice the continuous decline of our Welsh transport system.
Their spiteful derision of our culture and careless neglect of our transport deficiencies prompts the question: does Wales really need these people?
Pretyman Drive, Neath
Work harder, AMs
SIR – In David Williamson’s article headed “60 members not enough for the Assembly to work properly” (Western Mail, July 14) Lib-Dem Peter Black is quoted as saying, “there are not enough hours in a day”. Shame on our National Newspaper printing such propaganda.
What if our well-paid, well-pensioned and underused Assembly Members started to work like ordinary people? Five days a week, 9am to 5pm with the weekends off for constituency business (most of which is completed in the week by paid assistants anyway). What if our overworked AMs received the normal allocation of annual holidays that the working classes enjoy, ie, 30 days plus the statutory holidays? Possibly then we could look forward to St Davids Day as a national holiday. Would these normally accepted conditions of employment give them enough time to complete their onerous duties?
We have a Parliament (Commons), a Parliament (Lords), a Parliament (Scottish), an Assembly (Northern Ireland), an Assembly (Wales), a Parliament (European). We have city councils, borough councils, town councils, all controlled by very well-paid representatives. Do we really need any more? Last but by no means least, the quangos, jobs for the retiring friends of the political parties associations.
Do we, the taxpayers, not already pay enough for our over-represented levels of government? Are we not paying enough for the duplication that must arise from so many levels, without someone trying to convince us, unsuccessfully I can assure you, that we require more representation?
It seems that all shades of the political spectrum in the Bay are in agreement with Mr Black. I think it could be a case of the larger an organisation is, the easier it is to get lost in the crowd.
We are at this time (the British tax payers who live in this country, not the ones who have their salaries and bonuses paid over the water) paying for God knows how many levels of public representation, supposedly looking after our interests. If all these people were doing so well on our behalf, why is it that in the public’s eye, the standing of our politicians is so low?
I honestly believe that the majority of the electorate of our country (those who bothered to get up off their big fat armchairs and vote) would prefer less publicly paid representatives, not more.
Bassett Street, Trallwn, Pontypridd