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"A growing maturity?"

Betsan Powys | 07:45 UK time, Monday, 2 March 2009

[Apologies that this entry is a day late appearing. All BBC blogs were struck by technical problems yesterday - now resolved.]

So the pollsters didn't call you then?

Had the polling company, ICM, who conducted the annual St David's Day poll for BBC Wales give been given the numbers of most of those who leave comments on this blog, then there's not much doubt what the result of the final question would have looked like. It would have looked very, very different, that's what.

What question? This one:

To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statement? "There is a need to create new laws to help promote the Welsh language and also to ensure that Welsh speakers have more opportunities to use the language when using some services".

A thousand people were asked. 47% agreed there was a need to create new laws; 29% disagreed, 23% neither agreed nor disagreed and 1% didn't know. In other (carefully-chosen) words, the poll suggests that nearly half of us support the need to create new laws to promote and encourage the Welsh language.

The Culture Minister has just told Radio Wales this is a sign of "a growing maturity" and suggests the people are way ahead than "some politicians" where their attitude to the Welsh language is concerned.

The question doesn't refer to private businesses who provide a public service. It doesn't use the word "force" or "compel". What it does, of course, is reflect the wording of the LCO, the bid for power to legislate over the language that the Welsh Assembly Government launched recently.

We know that the wording of that LCO, as the Secretary of State Paul Murphy put it, is not "set in stone". During the the St David's Day debate in the House of Commons last Thursday he urged MPs to galvanise their constituents into "having their say on the proposals. I want to see the biggest public debate on the Welsh language of recent years". He wants that debate, he says, precisely so that the goodwill that exists towards the language isn't squandered.

That debate will ask people their views on a detailed, three page document. The poll question couldn't and didn't. But what it does seem to show is that goodwill towards the language not only exists but survives the inclusion of those words "create new laws".


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