The Plaid Cymru leaflet with the letter in Welsh from non-Welsh speaking candidate Ben Foday
A letter apparently written in both Welsh and English by Plaid Cymru candidate for Cardiff South and Penarth, Ben Foday, has appeared in the party’s latest election pamphlet.
The bi-lingual pamphlet, which includes both Welsh and English verions of Foday’s personal letter to electors and is “signed” by him, gives what some might say is a misleading impression that the Plaid Cymru candidate is Welsh-speaking.
Ben Foday (Plaid Cymru) told voters at St Mellons he was non Welsh-speaking
In fact Ben Foday has publicly declared in a hustings meeting in St Mellons that, as a first generation immigrant, he does not speak Welsh – but there is no rider to this effect in the pamphlet itself, nor is there any background information given on the candidate.
Foday is in fact a former Labour Party member and former Labour Cardiff Councillor who emigrated to Britain in 1982 from Sierra Leone. Plaid Cymru says elswewhere “ His professional career has been in working for an employment agency” .
However in a 30-year career Ben Foday appears to have picked up a raft of appointments on various public bodies and is said to have “worked in several fields including the management of social housing for 10 years before joining Newemploy (Wales) Ltd,a Community Voluntary Organisation, as director . He served as a non-executive director of the old Llandough Hospital and Community NHS Trust and was a board member of long-dissolved Cardiff Bay Development Corporation.
Foday also served on the board of the little-known – but labyrinthine – organisation the “Wales Centre for Health” – set up by the Labour Welsh Government in 2005. The organisation was described by the Daily Mirror in 2009 as a “pointless quango” and castigated for costly foreign trips after it spent £5,800 sending two people to Boston and £4,600 sending two to New Zealand. It is now subsumed into NHS Public Health Wales
Plaid Cymru Leader Leanne Wood
The Welsh Language still has a particular resonance for Plaid Cymru because the party was originally founded to keep Wales Welsh-speaking – and originally had the aim of making Welsh the official language of Wales.
Although the Welsh Language is no longer the burning issue it once was, hundreds of monoglot English-speakers continue to find themselves excluded from senior positions in public organisations because they can’t speak Welsh – and compliance with the Welsh Language Act (legislation backed by Plaid Cymru)- still imposes huge costs on a wide variety of public organisations.
Plaid Cymru is committed to “ensuring that every Local Authority in Wales will create bilingual trainers that could, and will hold training sessions and open air activities through the medium of Welsh”.
These requirements however do not seem to apply to Plaid Cymru parliamentary candidates. Plaid Cymru’s leader Leanne Wood is described as the first “non-fluent Welsh speaker ” to hold the position. She has also included a letter to voters written in Welsh under her signature in the same pamphlet.
Some observers say that, of all parties, it’s Plaid Cymru which made the Welsh Language a divisive issue in Wales and that at the very least it should come clean in its election literature and make it clear which of its candidates are bi-lingual and which aren’t.
[PDN Note] At this election the Labour Party has also included a Welsh-language letter which gives the impression of having been written by its candidate Stephen Doughty in some versions its election literature,. Some Conservative literature is also bi-lingual .