Firstly he launches a pretty damning critic of the Blair and Brown legacy. He ridicules Brown's attempts to convince us all that being British means tolerance and decency by pointing to New Labour's record of:
"bulging prisons, record incarceration of children, fortress-like asylum policies, and a progressive erosion of the distinction between ‘anti-social’ behaviour (where solutions ought to be sought primarily through social policy)and criminal conduct (which falls to be dealt with by the criminal justice system) provides an uncertain background of evidence.”Damning stuff. He also criticises the attack on Iraq, something which he embarrassingly refused to do a few years back (when it actually mattered). But Rhodri isn't finished yet, he then turns to his own Welsh party.
Echoing views that Eluned Morgan and Carwyn Jones said in February's Welsh Labour Conference (but which they later backtracked on in the Western Mail letter page) Rhodri states that a big reason for Labour's collapse in West Wales (they do not hold an Assembly seat West of Swansea) was their public image of being anti-Welsh language. While Rhodri is careful enough to state that he doesn't believe his party is anti-Welsh language his admission that:
"it would be foolish to deny that, from time to time, strands in the party have acted in ways which have given it credibility"is as subtle as a sledgehammer. Strands in the party? Now I wonder who he could possibly be talking about there?
It's very interesting to see Rhodri's admission that the Tories have managed to reposition themselves in front of Labour in the "pro-Welsh language" front. This would have been unimaginable only a few years ago, but there's no doubt that Welsh-speakers now feel that Labour is the party who opposes their quest for more rights not the Tories.
There are two reasons for this; yes the Tories, in the Assembly at least, have repositioned themselves well to the fore of Labour on this issue and, as Welsh-speaking Tories will always be quick to remind you, it was the Tories that (eventually) gave us the Welsh Language Act and S4C.
Perhaps more importantly though, they only have 3 Welsh MP's at the moment. So while Labour's numerous MP's lash out at the Welsh language from London, their Tory counterparts don't get much publicity when they do the same. So while the Tories in the Assembly have managed to redeem themselves to some extent, their MP's haven't - they're just being ignored. When, as is likely, the Tories find themselves with many additional Welsh MP's come the next election, it will be interesting to see if we'll still be thinking of them as pro-Welsh language?
So with the looming Cardiff v Westminster fight is about to begin over the Welsh Language LCO (believe me, the Housing LCO bickering is merely an undercard compared to the mess that the next one could cause) Rhodri has drawn a pretty big line in the sand. The question is what side of that line will the reminder of his party stand?