The One Wales Agreement contained a commitment to funding a Welsh Language daily newspaper. It was an unequivocal commitment:
We will expand the funding and support for Welsh-medium magazines and newspapers, including the establishment of a Welsh-language daily newspaper.
There is no way that either party to the One Wales Agreement can wiggle their way out of the fact that Rhodri Glyn Thomas' announcement on funding the Welsh Press, which sounded the death knell to establishing a Welsh language daily in the near future, is a broken promise.
The harm that this decision has caused to Plaid is loud and clear. Many of those who support Plaid Cymru for its defence of the language are bitterly disappointed. The harm to the Labour Party may not be as acute, but it adds to the perception that Cymdeithas Cledwyn noted in Llandudno last week that Labour is seen to be anti-Welsh.
In the long term, however, the decision not to fund Y Byd may prove to be a godsend to the future of the language. As long a go as the early eighties Emyr Llywelyn, in his book Adfer a'r Fro Gymraeg, noted that too many supporters of the language rely too heavily on government intervention as the only means of safeguarding Welsh. Little is done to gain support for the language from within the Welsh speaking community itself and little is done to fund language initiatives from non-governmental sources.
Since the idea of a Welsh language newspaper was first suggested some three years or so ago I have not been directly approached by anybody canvassing my support for the publication. All I know about the issue has come through third parties such as messages on Maes E. Most of my Welsh reading acquaintances in the local community first heard of Y Byd when they were told of its demise last week! Pathetic.
The paper wanted £600K per year grant for the publication plus a £200K guarantee of advertising revenue from the Assembly. But have they sought any long-term advertising or sponsorship deals from other sources such as Tesco or HSBC? Apparently not! It has been a policy of government or bust.
One Wales was wrong to make and brake a promise, but the lesson that not even a government with Plaid support can guarantee everything that supporters of the language want, might be a valuable lesson learned. A lesson that encourages those of us who wish to see the language flourish to stop being over dependent on the state for everything.