Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Arglwydd Thomas o Wydir The Telegraph:

Lord Thomas of Gwydir, who died on Monday aged 87, was, under Edward Heath's leadership, the first Conservative Secretary of State for Wales; he was also the first Welsh chairman of the Conservative party...

...Thomas became Welsh Secretary in 1970 amid escalating guerrilla activity by Welsh language extremists. As a QC practising in Wales, he had already defended John Jenkins, a former soldier convicted of causing 18 explosions; and in office he faced a Welsh Language Society campaign to dig up road signs in English, sporadic violence against property, and even threats against his wife.

George Thomas, his Labour shadow, accused him of being soft on language extremists. By setting up the Bowen Committee, which recommended bilingual road signs and creating a Welsh Language Council, Thomas took some steam out of the campaign.

His own background as a Welsh speaker, and his readiness to meet protesters, made it harder for extremists to claim that their argument was falling on deaf Anglophone ears...

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