Redwood ghost lurks as Welsh minister minds her language

17th August 2001 at 01:00
IT is a name that strikes terror into the hearts of English-born politicians in Wales.

Mention not the words "John" and "Redwood" in front of any would-be Welsh leader who was born to the east of Offa's Dyke - you're liable to be asked to leave the country.

The Conservative right-winger, of course, will forever be remembered in the Principality for his laughably inept attempt, while Welsh Secretary, to mime the words of the Welsh national anthem.

This week, evidence emerged that the ghost of Redwood continues to haunt the corridors of power in Wales. It was revealed that Welsh education minister Jane Davidson has spent a week at a holiday camp on the Dyfed coast, brushing up on her Welsh.

Some might say that Mrs Davidson - English-born, educated at Malvern Girls' College and Birmingham University but who has spent her working life in Wales - scarcely needs the lessons.

The minister, who was appointed last October, delivers a creditable Cyrmaeg (the Welsh language, to those of you not in the know) at meetings, conferences and even in media interviews.

Her linguistic skills have been compared favourably to the Welsh chief inspector, Susan Lewis, who has come under fire for not being able to speak the language. Mrs Davidson's children are also fluent Welsh speakers.

However, the minister clearly feels that she can still do better. In particular, getting her tongue around such twisters as Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru (National Assembly of Wales), which can challenge all but the most fluent.

Hence the trip to the Welsh League of Youth holiday camp at Llangrannog, on the west Wales coast. The camp offers families the chance to brush up on their linguistic skills while their children enjoy attractions ranging from quad-biking to rollerblading.

The course was fully booked up this year, although, among politicians, Mrs Davidson is likely to have been in a minority of one.

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