For many years, conscientious people have deplored a lack of clarity and principle in some reaches of our cultural life. The circumstances and the results have been rehearsed in great detail, and discussed again and again. Julian, however, like a number of other people, is under the impression that nobody else had noticed. Part of the blame for this lies with our print and broadcasting media, which have failed to acquaint many sections of our society with what is undeniably a matter of public record.
Julian asserts that he has recounted his [belated] discoveries to Keith Davies AM and to Nia Griffith MP. As culture is a devolved matter, it was at best otiose to involve Ms Griffith, although she is to be congratulated for maintaining a courteous and patient demeanour. He goes on to declare his attention to present his findings to the body in London known as the National Audit Office. Again, since this is a devolved matter, the relevant body is the Wales Audit Office – which, as it happens, regularly publishes reports on arts funding and the bodies concerned with it. There is something sadly amiss with higher education when a man who, as he tells us, has been a law lecturer, does not understand this.
There was a time when hostility to the Welsh language, and contempt for those of us who speak it, was the default position in many social circles. These are now reduced and isolated, and such unlovely prejudices are no longer publicly acceptable in polite society. Intelligent politicians in a system of representative government realize that such hostility and contempt are a net vote-loser and, whatever they may think privately, tailor their public remarks accordingly. Our society must be drastically fragmented, and our general education sadly ineffective, for a man of Julian’s status nor to have realized this.
He tells us that he will address a meeting in Cardiff on these and related matters, towards the end of November. Popular report has it that the relevant payment will be £3. I find this hard to credit. A payment of £5 would not be enough. An offer of free beer might bring in an audience to rival that of the Kidwell-e Festival, but otherwise I think it would be kinder to look the other way.
It occurs to me that many of us would benefit from reading a brief account of our present system of government. As far as I’m aware, no such book exists. It would have to be accurate, comprehensive, concise, and in both languages. There are plenty of able and well-informed people who could write it, and I hope earnestly that they will consider doing so as a matter of urgency. A useful model would be Guide de l’État in the ‘Les Essentiels’ series published by Milan. Some 60 pages long, it summarizes the evolution of the French state from the time of Clovis up to now, explains the principles and functions of representative government, and describes how the administration, the system of justice, and the legislature work. It reads as if aimed principally at the equivalent of sixth-formers, but is readily accessible to a wider public. It is, in short, exactly the kind of thing we need here – urgently.