Dear Mr. Bourne,
Please allow me to introduce myself. I'm [-], a Conservative & Unionist Party member of several years now. I'm of Irish parentage, and the relationship between the Conservative Party and the Union is a long-term interest of mine. I blog on the subject under the pseudonym Dilettante.
I recently read an article that has finally prompted me to write to you. Although I have might ask several questions of you, in light of the nature of my blog and the hope of eliciting a response I intend to focus on one: the relationship between the Welsh Conservatives and the Welsh language. I was wondering if you could explain to me why the Conservative Party aspires to a bilingual Wales.
I am not anti-Welsh, and neither is the wider party. Indeed, in my opinion it is illogical to be a unionist if you are 'anti' any of the constituent nations of the Union. However, I do take issue with the Welsh Conservatives being "committed to making Wales a fully bilingual nation". I fear that in attempting to shed an 'anti-Welsh' image the party may have adopted nationalist baggage.
I have two potential objections to this policy. The first is practical: whilst I can fully understand supporting Welsh as an optional choice in schools for those who wish to learn it, to create a bilingual Wales would surely involve making Welsh mandatory - imposing it upon Welsh students who could use the slot to take a subject that more accurately reflects their own interest, aspirations and personal priorities. Furthermore, forcibly constricting their academic freedom divides them from English students - is this good either for them or the Union? Additionally, making Wales bilingual must surely cost money: money that could be spent actually improving the lives of the Welsh people, either spent by the state or by themselves. How is any of the above in accordance with Conservative principle?
This leads to my second question: why is a bilingual Wales something that the Conservatives aspire to? The pro-active resurrection of the Welsh language is of no material benefit to British citizens in Wales. It is an understandable nationalist aspiration - but one for the Conservative & Unionist Party? One does not need to be an anglo-supremacist to believe in focusing on improving the material condition of the Welsh people rather than expending money on nationalist indulgences such as bilingual road signs when English is near-universally spoken. Resurrecting 'bilingual Wales' is expensive, proscriptive and of no material benefit to the Welsh - what then makes it desirable?
I hope that you find the time to read and answer this email.
**Update: Mr Bourne's reply here.**