Tuesday 28 June 2011

A really Welsh Secretary of State for Wales

Cheryl Gillan was born in Cardiff and spent several years growing up on her family's farms (note the plural) near Usk before going off to school, as so many young Cardiff girls do, to Cheltenham Ladies College. That was in the early 1960s, and our Cher probably never gave much thought to Wales again until she was brought into David Cameron's cabinet to sort out the Welsh.

Mrs Gillan represents the very un-Welsh constituency of Chesham and Amersham in the leafy commuter belt of the south of Buckinghamshire. You couldn't get much further away from Wales in terms of socio-economic and cultural identity if you tried.

One of the major issues Mrs Gillan is now grappling with is the threat to her constituency and her majority posed by the high speed rail link between London and the North of England. Mrs Gillan is opposing the rail link, and according to the blogger Guido Fawkes has even gone so far as to have questions planted to warn David Cameron that she is not at all happy.

Great news for the lawns and flowerbeds of Buckinghamshire, but odd that a Secretary of State for Wales should be spending so much time and effort on looking after them. Has she threatened to resign over the Government's refusal to allow Wales to decide whether or not to build giant wind farms and put pylons across the Welsh countryside; or the decision to bundle S4C into the the BBC and cut its budgets?

At least we know what her priorities are.

On the other hand, looking at the possible Welsh Tory contenders for the job, perhaps we are better sticking with Cheryl. One of them apparently refuses to deal with correspondence in Welsh, even though his constituency includes a good many Welsh speakers. Letters in Welsh have been answered with a curt statement saying that the writer will only get a reply if they write in English. And David Cameron said the Nasty Party was no more.

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