It would appear that despite Ukip having 6 democratically elected representatives in the Welsh Assembly, not everyone is prepared to accept their right to sit on committees and ask questions.
The Welsh language society Cymdeithas Yr Iaith was invited to provide evidence to the Welsh Assembly’s Culture, Welsh Language and Communications committee. Shortly before the meeting however, Cymdeithas issued an email to the chair of the committee, Plaid Cymru AM Bethan Jenkins, stating their opposition to Ukip and their refusal to take questions from Ukip Wales committee member Neil Hamilton as well as aiming to “highlight the party’s prejudicial attitudes”.
The committee in question responded fantastically well, by withdrawing the groups invitation, probably on grounds that elected representatives should not and will not be dictated to by unelected pressure groups. In a blog post on Cymdeithas’ website, the groups chairman, Heledd Gwyndaf said (this has been translated from Welsh, so might not be 100% accurate):
The undemocratic decision on behalf of the National Assembly was very disappointing and a tragic reflection on the state of our times.
The National Assembly exists to facilitate an open and fair discussion. But not only will Committee members embrace prejudiced UKIP with open arms, they want to prevent a platform for us, arguing in favour of the rights of other minorities and Welsh people.
Throughout the last Assembly, we’ve been working together with all parties in the Assembly, although, at times, we have had a difference opinion on several issues with several of them.
However, as an organization we have agreed that we will not cooperate with UKIP, on the basis of prejudice.
This sorry tale is one that should anger not just the more than 12% of Welsh people who decided to elect 7 Ukip Wales Assembly Members but all those who believe that democratically elected politicians, of all shades, should be granted the same rights and courtesies. It should further annoy those who believe that issues of national importance within committees should be conducted on a cross-party basis, avoiding the partisan politics that often comes with debates in the chamber.
The organisation in question, Cymdeithas, needs to take a step down from its high horse, accept that it cannot dictate to elected representatives what it will and will not do and then object when their presence is no longer wanted. The unanimous decision by the committee is something to be admired and my view is that Cymdeithas will regret this foolish and petulant decision. They should also The only sympathy I have on this issue is with Neil Hamilton, a Welshman and fluent Welsh speaker himself, who should not be subjected to this kind of low-level attack.
There are plenty of Welsh language groups who would have been thrilled with the opportunity to put forward their vision for increasing the use of the Welsh language across the country. Maybe in future the committee should decide to select alternative groups that will respect the democratic decisions of the Welsh people whom they apparently care about so much.
In a statement to BBC Wales, Neil Hamilton told the group to ‘grow up’. If there was one piece of advice that Cymdeithas should take, it’s this.