SOME LIB DEMS are really getting their knickers in a twist over politics in Ceredigion and the value and dangers of immigration, writes Clive Betts from the Assembly press gallery.
Currently, some of them are accusing Plaid – and specifically the county’s retired AM and MP Cynog Dafis – of something like BNP-style racism for his comments about why Plaid is finding it hard to gain the county’s seat at Westminster.
Mr Dafis blamed demographic change in the county, “where up to half the inhabitants are either people who have moved here themselves from England or are the children of people who have done so”.
Most of the responders on Lib Dem websites clearly where rather ignorant about the county. They didn’t know that the Labour planning minister in Cardiff had intervened with the Ceredigion council planning department about its policies which involved the building of far more new homes than local needs required.
The Lib Dems are getting their knickers in a twist by complaining about Mr Dafis’s comment : they themselves have benefited in the past – I would argue - from precisely the same sort of factors – native Welshmen, and immigrant and monoglot Englishmen.
It was one of the Ceredigion Libdemmers who alerted me to the issue in a roundabout way. Greg Foster, from the university Lib Dem branch, responded to one of my blogs which claimed that the Conservatives had never held a seat in Ceredigion.
The Tories held in the seat in 1874, he wrote.
So I decided on a bit of investigation.
Indeed, they did. Thomas Edward Lloyd managed to unseat Evan Matthew Richards for the county seat. In those days, there was a boroughs seat for Ceredigion as well. The Liberals got back at the following election.
Both of the candidates at that county election were pretty obviously Welshmen, and Welsh-speakers as well.
Since that time, the county has been more or less a Lib stronghold.
But before then, one of the seats (that for the county, ie the rural areas) had usually been held by a Tory – although the boroughs seat was almost inevitably Liberal. Presumably, county landowners, versus town businessmen and professionals.
And who were the county landowners ? How many of them were native Welsh; how many were English ?
In those days, it could be argued, the Welsh didn’t really exist. Everyone of importance was, of course, English …
In those days, the franchise was pretty restricted, but the long list of MPs sitting for the county seat were almost invariably Conservatives.
One of the more prominent was the Earl of Lisburne. Sounds to me like a native-born Welsh-speaker. Sounds more to me like an Englishman who had stolen some Irish land – which helps to explain the eventual existence of the IRA – and later who started lording it over another country.
How many of the electors for the county seat – rather than for the borough constituency – were similar English immigrants ?
Perhaps the Ceredigion Liberals would like to tell us.
Perhaps it was only when those immigrant landowners and their pals were swamped by the advance of what became eventually mass suffrage that Ceredigion could be boasted of as a Liberal county.
Of course, the real issue is that some Liberals betray a lack of understanding of immigration and its effect on a language and on culture.
As Simon Brooks commented in his Freedom Central contribution, the problem centres around not so much immigration, as around “members of this [British] majority who refuse to learn the minority language” [of an area which they move into].
That is, English-speakers who move en masse into Ceredigion.
A contributor to Freedom Central who then talks about “a refugee who doesn’t learn English when they live in London” is probably racist himself. Rather like Republicans in the United States who claim the English language out there is at risk of being swamped by Spanish immigrants.
Which immigrant living in London doesn’t learn English ? Presumably only the recent arrivals, or the old, or those who intend to return.
Anyone who can believe about arrivals ignoring English is clearly reading the Daily Express too much and obviously knows nothing about immigration, immigrants’ home languages, and the English language.
How is the German colony in Dakota developing ? How has their German digressed from the German of the mother-land ? More to the point – do any of them still speak any German ?
The problems caused by monoglot English-speaking immigrants into Ceredigion is an entirely different issue.
Mind you, there’s an additional issue which may tell us why the Lib Dems are ensconcing themselves in Ceredigion. Cynog Dafis complained about the Lib Dem MP’s espousal of pavement politics.
Yet it’s pavement politics which twice came close (well, moderately) to ousting the Libs from “their own county”.
The party came up against an activist Tory, by the name of Harford, a Bristol “banker”, who lived at Falcondale on the outskirts of Lampeter.
One of his pet campaigns involved bringing a railway to Lampeter. Being a Tory, he was dead against using government money of any sort to pay for the project.
Eventually, his campaign was triumphant and a railway arrived.
But lots of public capital was involved. Particularly from the county’s local authorities.
Presumably in order to win he had to get Liberal help. And to do that, he had to “do a Cameron”.
Eventually, Harford chaired the railway company. Whether he eventually learned any Welsh, I know not.
He probably spoke only English, but he made a neat job of eating some of those English words!