Thursday, August 09, 2007

What is the Eisteddfod?

Johnny Foreigner called me a hypocrite today. Cut me to the quick. All I'd said was that I was going to the Eisteddfod tomorrow - and that I was going to present myself as a Conservative, as President of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales and to appear on a platform arranged by the Institute of Politics, Aberystwyth. No mention of culture at all. At least I'm not going for a p*** up. It seems that I should have been going to enjoy the singing, dancing and reciting. Johnny and I fundamentally disagree about what the Eisteddfod is about.

This seems to me to be a good subject for debate. I accept that the Eisteddfod's basic purpose is to promote the Welsh Language through cultural activities - but I do not think it is the real reason most (or at least many) of us go there. For me it is a networking event. I would enjoy the singing and dancing - if I had time. But I'm there to represent the Conservative Party - on our stand, and through visiting other stands in the company of fellow Parliamentary candidate, Guto Bebb, and Cheryl Gillan, Shadow Secretary of State for Wales. We're going to 'tour' the Maes. And we've got a nice little surprise in store for announcement to the world at 3.00. Stay tuned. I will discuss it tomorrow night.

I'm also there to represent the CPRW which I'm told has an impressive presence on the Maes. In particular, wearing this hat, I hope to visit other stands which share our concern about the price of housing for young people, the future of the Welsh Language and threats to the Welsh landscape.

The most important cultural aspect of the Eisteddfod (and similarly, our Royal Welsh Show and other shows) is our desire to meet and talk to each other. The activities in 'the big tent' are the core of the festival, especially the major competitions - but I see our Eisteddfod as a celebration of all things Welsh. And I daresay that now Johnny foreigner has instigated this post in his name, there will be no stopping him.

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