Member of Parliament Jonathan Edwards writes an open letter to Jeremy Corbyn on Labour party members actively campaigning with UKIP against Welsh medium education.
Labour party members campaigning with UKIP in Carmarthenshire
I write an open letter to bring to your attention the activities of Labour activists in Carmarthenshire which I know, having worked with you over a number of years, will cause you considerable concern.
Since I was elected to the House of Commons, you and I have both campaigned on fundamental issues such as human rights; protection of minorities; religious and cultural diversity; solidarity with working people; an ethical foreign policy; peace and global disarmament. I know these are values which are fundamentally important to you as a progressive politician. Above all, we stand on a common platform against the politics of the far right which bases its politics on sowing division and hatred and, in particular, the targeting of minorities.
I regret to inform you of the activities of Labour party members and activists in the Llanelli constituency in relation to Welsh medium education in the village of Llangennech.
I am sure you will be familiar with the Labour Welsh Government's education strategy of promoting and increasing bilingual education provision as part of its strategy to achieve one million Welsh speakers. Welsh as a language faces significant pressures in its traditional heartlands, a social symptom of economic decline as our young people have to move to find meaningful work. Increasing bilingual education provision is a key part of the strategy supported by both Labour and Plaid Cymru at a national level.
Regrettably, the Labour party in Llanelli has run a nasty, divisive campaign against the plans of the local Plaid Cymru-led Council to implement a policy initiated by the then Labour-run Council administration and approved by the Labour Welsh Government. I am informed by local residents that parents who support the plans have been intimidated by local activists.
Most surprising to you might be the fact that one Labour County Councillor referred to bilingual education as "apartheid" during a debate in the local Council. These actions are undoubtedly influenced by political considerations as we approach this year's local authority elections. Both County Council seats in Llangennech are held by Plaid Cymru.
I know it will be an issue of grave concern to you that the Labour party in Llanelli is actively coordinating efforts with UKIP in Llangennech community. UKIP Assembly Member Neil Hamilton recently campaigned with Labour in Llangennech – a visit we now know was coordinated in liaison with the official Labour party candidate for Llangennech ward. Labour party members pictured on social media wearing Labour party rosettes are too seen in the picture with UKIP's Neil Hamilton. Furthermore, recent comments to local media from a Labour supporter in Llangennech suggest your party will contest the Llangennech Community Council elections in a joint campaign with UKIP.
Finally, and perhaps most shocking, I have seen that the Labour supporter who is orchestrating this joint campaign with UKIP has shared deplorable images from the Tea Party and English Defence League on social media.
Sadly, none of the issues I raise are a surprise to me. The institutional anti-Welsh prejudice of Labour locally is why working class politicians like myself find their natural home in Plaid Cymru. However, I am sure considering your principled position on these issues you would be horrified by the activities of these representatives of your party. Furthermore, with these activities taking place within the constituency of your Shadow Defence Secretary, I am sure you will want to ensure your Shadow Cabinet is not brought into disrepute by these worryingly close links with UKIP.
I would hope that you, like me, would consider the fight against intolerance, prejudice and the far right as the struggle of our times. If we are to succeed there must be no compromise in our rejection of the politics of hate and division.
I ask that you, as the Leader of the Labour Party, investigate the activities of Labour members in the Llanelli constituency to ensure the voice and opinions of the far right are not given a platform in your party membership or those who seek public office in your party's name.
Yn gywir iawn,
Jonathan Edwards MP
Carmarthen East and Dinefwr