A FORMER National Eisteddfod archdruid launched an extraordinary attack on Liverpudlians yesterday, accusing them of intolerance towards minorities.
The outburst by Robyn Lewis is bound to cause offence in the city following the racist murder of schoolboy Anthony Walker.
Dr Lewis said he agreed with Tory MP Boris Johnson, whose Spectator magazine blasted the city for being over-emotional following the death of hostage Kenneth Bigley in Iraq last year.
Dr Lewis, who stood down as an Eisteddfod leader last month, was reacting to claims that the festival could die if it rejected Liverpool's offer of a lifeline.
The Eisteddfod faces the prospect of missing a year in 2007 because no Welsh county has matched Liverpool's offer to host it.
"We would be lost amongst the Scousers, who aren't known for their toleration of minorities," he said. "I feel Boris Johnson had a point."
His comments drew condemnation from Liverpudlians, who are struggling to cope with the brutal murder of 18-year-old Anthony.
Yesterday on the Eisteddfod maes, Dr Lewis stormed out of the pavilion in protest at a speech by former Plaid Cymru leader Dafydd Wigley.
Mr Wigley said skipping a year to avoid taking the festival to Liverpool could prove fatal. He suggested it would be hypocritical to turn down Liverpool's offer.
"Let's remember that there are many keen eisteddfodwyr here today who are quite prepared to travel to Anfield to watch their football, or to the Cheshire Oaks to spend their money," Mr Wigley said.
Dr Lewis hit back, and told the Western Mail, "I never go to Liverpool to shop because I support Welsh tradesmen.
"I can't imagine a young girl presenting a sheaf of flowers to the Archdruid taken not from the soil of Wales but from the soil of England.
"I would prefer that there was no Eisteddfod at all because in practical terms a Liverpool Eisteddfod would be a failure."
The Eisteddfod has left Wales in the past, but Dr Lewis, said, "In 1929 there were 60 Welsh chapels in Liverpool. Now there are six and the congregations are few and ageing."
He said prominent members of Liverpool's Welsh community did not want the Eisteddfod and it would be impossible to raise money on Merseyside.
Community leaders in Liverpool said the city's response to Anthony Walker's death proved Dr Lewis wrong.
Peter Kilfoyle, a Merseyside MP, said, "He is very, very, wrong headed and he doesn't seem aware of what the city is about.
"After the terrible murder of Anthony Walker, what shocked so many people was that we are not seen as a racist city, as a city that turns it's back on colours or creeds or persuasions of any character."
D Ben Rhys, an author who has written about the Welsh in Liverpool, said, "The hundreds who go everyday to Huyton shows that Liverpudlians don't accept any nastiness towards people from other communities.
"He is bordering on madness. Liverpool had a huge respect for Welsh people."
A City of Culture spokesman said, "We are not trying to grab the event. We are not trying to steal it from North Wales in any way."
The present Archdruid, Selwyn Iolen, a keen Liverpool FC fan, distanced himself from his predecessor.
He said, "Wherever it is, even if it is on the moon, I would go."