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Monday, 3 September, 2001, 03:43 GMT 04:43 UK
'Racist' remarks lost Plaid votes
Newspaper story
Seimon Glyn's outburst attracted huge media attention
An internal report commissioned by Plaid Cymru following the general election states that anti-English comments by a local councillor lost them vital votes.

A total of 3,000 people in Plaid's heartland constituencies - bilingual and English-only speakers - were questioned as part of the post-election survey.

Of the Welsh speakers interviewed, a total of 80% who had voted for the party in the1997 general election did so again this year - compared with just 40% of non-Welsh speakers.

Seimon Glyn addressing a rally
Glyn's comments sparked a long-simmering debate

The survey showed that the controversial comments of Gwynedd County Councillor Seimon Glyn had been a major factor in persuading the non-Welsh speakers to look elsewhere.

But the survey as North Wales Police announced they would not be taking legal action against Mr Glyn after he was reported for his comments. He said he was "mildly relieved."

He said: "I was never unduly concerned. I knew right from the start that what I said was not inciting racial hatred. I was only the messenger."

But Mr Glyn could not have had any idea of the controversy he was igniting when he made those now-infamous comments about English people moving into Wales.

Back in January, the chairman of Gwynedd County Council's housing committee was taking part in a radio phone-in hosted by BBC Wales's Sarah Dickens.

Mr Glyn prompted a flood of calls when he told the programme that the number of English people moving to Wales should be strictly monitored. Not only that, he said, they should be made to learn Welsh.

His comments followed a report warning that traditional rural Welsh communities could die out because of rocketing house sales.

Fears were said to be growing that local people simply could not afford the asking prices in places like Gwynedd.

Nearly a third of all properties bought in the area during a 12-month period were sold to people moving into the county and some councillors called on the Welsh Assembly to back a scheme to give assistance to locals looking to buy homes.

Mr Glyn's comments:

  • "We are faced with a situation now where we are getting tidal waves of migration, inward migration into our rural areas from England, and these people are coming here to live to establish themselves here, and to influence our communities and our culture with their own."

  • "Between 90 and 100% of all homes being put on the market are sold to outsiders."

  • "Once you have more than 50% of anybody living in a community that speaks a foreign language, then you lose your indigenous tongue almost immediately."

  • "In my opinion, it is no use to the community to have retired people from England coming down here to live and being a drain on our resources."

    Although Mr Glyn subsequently issued an apology to anyone who might have been offended by his comments, he has since reiterated his stance.

    Speaking on BBC Wales current affairs programme, Week In Week Out, he told reporter Betsan Powys : "Nobody should have to defend themselves for highlighting issues to do with the language of their community, or the economic situation within the community, or the fact that the community is unable to absorb inward migration."

    Asked if he had had second thoughts about the words he used, he said, emphatically : "I don't regret it".

    BBC Wales's Rhuanedd Richards
    "The party needs to learn hard lessons from the election result"
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