Why We're Not like the BBC on the Welsh Language

The Mirror (London, England), May 21, 2002 | Go to article overview

Why We're Not like the BBC on the Welsh Language


Byline: NEIL FOWLER Editor, The Western Mail

ABSOLUTE political correctness is one of the great sins of recent years. It has led to all kinds of issues not being discussed openly and honestly in British society.

An alleged variation on political correctness in Wales has been the inability to have a debate of clarity on the Welsh language.

I think there is some weight to that argument. But I am not sure it is an accusation that can be accurately made against The Western Mail.

In Friday's Welsh Daily Mirror, Paul Starling claimed that in my newspaper aspects of the language debate - in this case the perceived subversive move to bilingualism - were never aired. We appeared to suffer a sideswipe in his general attack on BBC Wales, an attack which may or may not have merit.

I believe he should have differentiated between ourselves, part of a private company with plc requirements balanced alongside moral and ethical standards, and the BBC, an organisation compulsorily funded by the public with a legal necessity of impartiality.

Yes, The Western Mail is sympathetic to the Welsh language. After all, more than 20 percent of all adults speak it and every school pupil learns it.

A reasonably high proportion of our readers speak and read Welsh, but few would recognise the picture painted by Paul Starling.

Yes, The Western Mail understands the Welsh Language Act means public bodies must act bilingually. That's the law.

But The Western Mail is also an English language newspaper, edited for the last eight years by an Englishman proud to attempt to bring the newspaper into the heart of the Welsh debate. …

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