Letter from Wales: the Welsh Language Society needs some decent PR!

by Julian Ruck

I have been wrong.

And never let it be said that I will not listen to a fair and reasonable argument, albeit that I may well disagree with part of it.

On 21.8.13 I interviewed Tony Schiavone, a representative of the Welsh Language Society and I must say I was impressed. Indeed, the Society is to be commended for entering into a dialogue with me in the first place, which is more than can be said for Dyfodol, another Welsh language pressure group, but then they are associated with the taxpayer subsidised  Welsh publisher Y Lolfa, so say no more.

The thrust of the interview concentrated on the WLS’s views on planning policy in Wales in respect of its impact on the development and preservation of the Welsh language eg how far should a 62% Welsh speaking community be considered when planners examine housing needs, be it private or public sector?

Would not an influx of non-Welsh speakers result in the possible denigration of the language?

As you can imagine, my immediate response to this was one of “hold on, this stinks of minority protectionism on a grand scale?”

Not so, as was duly pointed out by Mr Schavione. He made it clear that the Society’s view was one of “consideration” not enforcement and he gave me no reason to doubt his sincerity in this. I must also stress that not once during the interview did I feel I was dealing with a gentleman of extreme and unrealistic inclination.

His polemic if you like, was simply that planning policy should take into account the relevant character of the local community and the social impact on Welsh speakers. He was also clear that the Society’s objectives were in no way an attempt to keep “outsiders” out, it was more a question of proportionality.

Now, believe it or not I couldn’t really argue with his well-balanced reasoning.

What struck me more than anything else when reflecting upon the interview, was the fact that the WLS needs to sort its image out. I for one had always associated the Society with tyranny and intolerance.

I have been wrong.

What it must do, is disassociate itself from Welsh language extremists and those who still carry the Saunders Lewis colours of direct action and infamy or for that matter RS Thomas’ Welsh speaking bucolic utopia.

As I have said before, in the modern world, the way forward for the Welsh language is consensus, persuasion and moderation and of course, not forgetting social media!

Finally I must add, that there wasn’t one shred of animosity or combativeness during the interview, which I am confident Mr Schiavone will confirm- and he’s a north Walian!

Julian Ruck is an author, columnist and Freedom of Information campaigner. He also makes contributions to both Welsh and national broadcasting and media

Tags: , , , ,

15 Responses to “Letter from Wales: the Welsh Language Society needs some decent PR!”

  1. belowthelandsker says:

    Well done Julian! The best solutions are always found by open, reasonable and mature debate.

    It’s hard to believe that this Tony Schiavone is from the same organistion that I last heard about when one of their members was sat on the roof of her car with young children in protest at receiving a parking fine…. we can only assume it was a non-school day!

    The fine was issued in Grangetown (an area I very much doubt the WLS/Cymdeithas member was born and bred in) and the protestation was that the ticket, although bilingual in terms of its template and accompanying information, was not ‘filled in’ in Welsh. It goes without saying that a legitimate parking offence had been comitted of course.

    I’m not quite sure what solution the the WLS/cymdeithas member had in mind but I doubt there was anything ‘mature’ or ‘reasonable’ about it! Presumably, the answer was to fire the traffic warden (who as it happens was born and bred in Grangetown) and employ a welsh speaking traffic warden for the next time the WLS member or her chums decided to visit grangetown… no doubt only to avoid the parking charges of the city centre.

    I, like you Julian, have many times in the past seen the worth in certain things that people like Tony Schiavone are trying to achieve in the Welsh language heartlands. Like you say he seems to be being realistic… but it undoes so much good work and good will when Welsh language activists in areas like grangetown act completely unrealistic and even militant!

  2. alan jones says:

    Mr Schiavone is a better man than you are mr ruck. As you’ve made racist comments about ‘welshylanguage’ and said it ‘sounds like a turkey being strangled’ , called welsh speakers ‘backward’ and said they should be on sign etched d to the history boke I’m impressed anyone gives you time of day. What this episode shows yet again is that theyre a tolerant and forgiving bunch who deserve better than being judged by reactionary bigots and liars like you.
    If I were a welsh speaker i’D have nothing to do with people like you for whom ‘minority’ is . Obviousoy a dirty word.

  3. Julian Ruck says:

    To Belowthelandsker,

    And sadly, Mr Jones above is a classic example.



  4. Rob says:

    I’m a Welsh speaker, I do not let people like this bother me, it’s his opinion, anyway after Labour open door policy on immigration I’d not take what Labour says anymore bother me.

  5. alan jones says:

    Julian please correct me if I’m wrong – did you or did you not make those bigoted comments. Yes or no answers will do.
    I fail to see what I represent in terms of intolerance when I’m merely quoting your sneering and reactionary comment s back at you.
    Yes or no answer – did you make thos comments?

  6. alan jones says:

    Ps answer my question re mark billingham s billing at your festival while you’re at it please.

  7. dave rodway says:

    Mr Ruck, could you confirm that you once supported a call for the banning of Welsh in the workplace – in Anglesey of all places?
    If you weren’t such a terrible writer of English, I’d call you an English-language extremist!

  8. Danny says:

    It remains disgusting that Labour Uncut continue to publish this racist bigot who have posted provenly false and inaccurate articles.

    Uncut simply ignores these fact and its principles because he gets the website views and comments. This is the machinations of a News International outlet, not an online blog that uses the word “Labour” in its title.

    Until such time that this odious, bitter, failed person is refused his weekly bile, which could be restricted owing purely to its awful quality before you even look into his fictitious and bigotry-driven content, then my readership of this online blog will cease.


  9. David Hewson says:

    ‘Indeed, the Society is to be commended for entering into a dialogue with me in the first place…’

    Given that he can’t even spell the name of someone he met correctly – ‘Schiavone’ in paragraph two becomes ‘Schavione’ just four paragraphs later – one trusts Welsh institutions won’t make the foolish mistake of indulging Ruck’s buffoonery again.

    As for Julian Ruck recommending someone else needs to ‘sort their image out’… blimey.

    By the way Ruck… I’m still waiting to hear you clarify your position about the FoI requests you both claim and deny having requested on us. Along with all the other many unanswered questions you refuse to face here.

    To refresh your memory… here are a couple of links.



  10. alan jones says:

    Editor – this man is or should be an embarrassment to you, not just for his rotten writing skills and numerous errors of fact and numeracy and grammar, but because of the bigotry he expresses here and elsewhere (homophobia minority bashing and sexism) but because he is a liar and plagiarist. His articles consist of laughing at people’s accents language names and culture while at the same time getting his facts wrong. Can you tell us what this r e actionary ranter actually contributes to your reputation?

  11. Mr Akira Origami says:


    “The number of places where over half the population speaks Welsh has fallen.”

    Perhaps people increasingly: “want to live in English”?

    How are we to react to a group that ‘wants the Welsh government to implement its policies, which includes every child being fluent in Welsh.’

    This group sounds quite undemocratic and a real danger to freedom of speech in Wales.

    Perhaps one reason for the decline of the Cymraeg language in Wales is a group of people intent on forcing their wishes on the democratic majority?

  12. dave rodway says:

    ouch! another jibe at welsh publishers who turned you down… Can you confirm or deny that you also sent your novel to Y Lolfa to publish? And were turned down?
    Thank you. Your obsession with attacking publishers is quite something. You give self-published writers a bad name, you old sourpuss you!
    Could you deal with my and Messrs Hewson and Jones’s queries above too, please?

  13. 28/08.13
    Dear EDITOR,
    In my experience of knowing Julian Ruck ,and for some time , he may be accused by some of many things , but of being , “homophobic ” [ Alan Jones 25/08.13] cannot be one.

    I can speak from personal experience as I am a gay woman writer. I have found however a good deal of, ‘denial’ and prejudice in the Welsh arts scene and the media.I see hardly anything published here in Wales at all with a, ‘gay sensibility’ .In fact I was once told by a Welsh publisher, I will not name that my work was “perverse’ as it included a same-sex relationship.

    I would also like to add that it does a blog no service when comments are published based on very little evidence , but mainly prejudice and hearsay then are bandied around as ‘facts’.

  14. alan jones says:

    An characteristic lack of response from mr ruck himself here!

  15. Owain says:

    He’s not a north Walian….

Leave a Reply