Whatever one might think about school reorganisation proposals in the west of Cardiff, there is no doubt that their rejection by the First Minister has exposed a growing rift around the Welsh language within the One Wales government.
The Welsh Local Government Association described the Assembly Government decision to reject plans to modernise English-language provision and expand Welsh-medium education as “retrograde and questionable”. It said the decision “yet again exposes the yawning gap between national rhetoric and local reality on the issue of surplus school places”.
However, the most damning criticism came from Labour’s coalition partners, Plaid Cymru. They branded the decision as a “direct contradiction” of Assembly Government policy which would deny children the right to a Welsh education.
Plaid Cymru education spokeswoman, Mid and West Wales AM Nerys Evans, said the decision was an outrage.“Cardiff council has identified an obvious need for more Welsh-medium education in the city. It is the council’s responsibility to answer that demand through provision which they planned to do through this reorganisation.
“The First Minister has stopped this from happening. This effectively denies parents in Cardiff the right to choose to educate their children through the medium of Welsh, which goes against one of the flagship policies of the Assembly Government’s Welsh-medium education.”
These are difficult times for the One Wales coalition. Plaid Cymru have already had to compromise on the Welsh Language Legislative Competence Order and now have produced a Welsh Language Measure that has disappointed and enraged many of their supporters, not least some of their MPs.
It is true that the Liberal Democrats have had to make compromises to enter the Westminster coalition but that is the norm for such arrangements. Labour and Plaid Cymru did it themselves in 2007 and now some of those compromises are coming home to bite them.