Speaking to the European Parliament's Intergroup for Regional Languages, Labour's MEP Eluned Morgan boasted of the growth in the number of Welsh speakers. She warned that an "inclusive approach must continue to be followed". "The Welsh language has been held up in Europe as the continent's best example of the revival of a minority language," Morgan argues.
"It is crucial that in promoting the Welsh language we do no alienate the 80% of the population that don't speak it," said Morgan. "Indeed, it is only by following an inclusive approach that we will continue to develop support for the language among non-Welsh speakers and ensure the future of the language."
"The Welsh language is central to our national culture and identity and it cannot be cornered by just one political party," said Morgan. "Its promotion must be mainstreamed as an issue for all political parties in Wales." A traditional criticism from Labour politicians has been of Plaid Cymru 'hogging' the issue of the Welsh language.
Attempts to improve the Welsh Labour party's image as regards promoting the Welsh language have suffered several hiccups in recent months. In July, seven Welsh MPs (including two ex-Secretaries of State for Wales Alun Michael and Paul Murphy, and former Wales Office Ministers Nick Ainger and Don Touhig, as well as Chris Bryant, Ian Lucas, Ann Clwyd) called for English to be announced first at most Welsh railway stations, and only then in Welsh. The Welsh Labour MPs were joined, in their House of Commission motion, by one Democratic Unionist (Northern Ireland), one concerned English Conservative (Andrew Pelling) and a Labour MP (John McDonnell). Speaking to the Western Mail, Bryant explained that announcements in Welsh first were "a source of constant irritation". "If they do the whole announcement in Welsh first it takes forever, and the train has left," noted Bryant.
This week, researcher David Collins, who works for Labour's Vale of Clwyd Assembly Member Ann Jones, argued that "... compulsory Welsh may also diminish young pupils enthusiasm for education and their confidence in their ability to master a subject. You cannot successfully teach a practically brain dead language to young children whose families don't want it revived or couldn't care less about it. It can only be dulling for them." Collins is also a Labour Party candidate for Grangetown and school governor in Cardiff.
Speaking to the Daily Post, Collins apparently claimed the blog posting resulted from "careless typing". Although the blog has subsequently been removed a copy of the posting is available here. Collins argues he had meant to write Welsh was a "dead" and not "practically brain dead" language. "The comment was made in my own time and is not a reflection of the views of Ann Jones AM or the Wales Labour Party," Collins told the Daily Post.
"Contrary to the published views of Labour researcher, David Collins, the Welsh language is not 'brain dead' nor is it a 'dead language'," said Peter Black, Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for South Wales West. "David Collins is of course entitled to his views, no matter how wrong he is. His employer, [ed. Vale of Clwyd Assembly Member] Ann Jones is also entitled to refuse to condemn him. David will shortly be seeking election to Cardiff Council," added Black on his blog.