Saturday, March 24, 2007

Mugging up on Cymraeg

:: At the Plaid conference. Plaid says it is in the shape of its life. Ieuan Wyn Jones has this theme that they have changed the party. There is a professional backroom operation, a new image, more cash and an unprecedented propensity for candidates to be on message. You might say it's all superficial – where is the changed ideology?
There may not be a Clause IV moment, but don't underestimate the changes they have made. In preparing for this weekend, I had a little look at Plaid's 2003 pre-election conference on the PA text library. Shambles (the conference, not the library). RMT leader Bob Crow was supposed to show up and address the faithful – but, embarrassingly, he pulled out hours before the speech. Mr Jones had to address everyone outdoors after a power cut plunged them into darkness.
The contrast with this year's slick performance could not be greater. Plaid's big challenge is to encourage people to “get beyond” independence and listen to their policies on health, education and the rest of it. This, Plaid claims, it has finally managed to achieve.

:: Plaid's conference is in Caernarfon. I like Caernarfon. As I'm fond of telling people, you can get mugged in Welsh in Caernarfon. It's the only town of its size I have been to where Welsh runs right throughout all of society. I went to school in the countryside where lots of people speak Welsh, and now I live in the city where lots of people don't. But Caernarfon has a bit of both. Only in Caernarfon have I ever had to tell a begger I didn't have any change ... in Welsh.

:: I passed no shortage of local hospitals to be saved on the drive up here from Cardiff. But, as I approached Builth Wells, I passed a roadside public convenience with the slogan “Save Our Toilets” painted on the roof. Not sure what that says about a town, but I didn't stop and use them.

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