Controversial Welsh Assembly Member Dawn Bowden who showed voters a picture of her feet on a sun lounger in Italy and made “tribal” comments criticising political opponents after the General Election, has been condemned for proudly telling constituents of her membership of a high-profile language committee despite the fact she does not speak Welsh, The Eye can reveal.
In her monthly newsletter she declares: “I sit on 3 … Committees: Health, Social Care and Sport; Culture, Welsh Language, and Communications; and External Affairs and Additional Legislation”.
But one woman who voted for Ms Bowden in Merthyr Tydfil was less than impressed.
She told us how a non-Welsh speaker sitting on the Welsh language committee gives the area a bad image.
Ms Bowden is attending Welsh-learner lessons, but has been described to us as “at a very early stage”.
The constituent told us: “She doesn’t speak Welsh!
“I believe she intends to learn – but I would have thought it was a prerequisite.
“It’s not good for Merthyr’s image – I wonder what (Welsh language organisation) Canolfan Merthyr thinks about that.”
But this is not the first time Ms Bowden has hit the headlines.
She said in a debate about youth services that without them young people could be on the streets causing trouble.
She added: “I’m absolutely in no doubt whatsoever that if it were not for the likes of those services (Communities First) … many of the young people served by them would end up roaming the streets.
“They’d then be engaging in anti-social behaviour, possibly falling into dependency on drugs and alcohol, or even becoming young offenders.
But the remarks were not welcomed by many in her own constituency.
One resident said: “These were disgraceful comments.
“These youngsters wouldn’t go back to being criminals without things like ‘Communities First’”.
Publicising her luxury holidays abroad has also proved contentious.
She has published pictures of her feet on a sun lounger in Italy, and drinks as she waited to go to the opera in Verona, but she told her supporters how she officially backed the positioning of tourist signs for other holiday-makers who visited her area.
In her ‘Assembly report’ – which was sent to Labour constituents with the words “Dear Comrade” – Ms Bowden proudly declared she has spoken about the importance of special guidance for tourists in the South Wales valleys.
But she clearly enjoys Italy much more for her own holidays.
She tweeted about how she was enjoying being beside a pool in the country, and ironically showed a picture with no one else in it, saying ‘all’ the crowds were getting on her nerves.
Ms Bowden obviously upsets her constituents.
When she published the picture, it too provoked fury among those who voted for her.
A Labour voter in her area said to The Eye at the time: “She should have more consideration for the people in Merthyr who are using food banks and are living well below the bread line”.
At the same time that we revealed she had shown us a shot of her feet beside a pool, Ms Bowden had also posted a picture of herself in front of expensive yachts.
Ms Bowden is clearly a fan of social media.
On Facebook the public became acquainted with the fact she was enjoying a dinner of local mushrooms washed down with wine when she was in Italy.
Yet she has not just been dogged by controversy over her social media posts.
Even before becoming an AM, bad headlines have never been far from Ms Bowden.
She was selected from an all-women shortlist that attracted accusations it was undemocratic, and allowed a candidate to be ‘parachuted’ in from outside the area.
These shortlists have long presented problems for Labour in Wales.
The MP in her neighbouring constituency of Cynon Valley, Ann Clwyd, first said she would retire then extraordinarily decided to stand again in the 2015 General Election, after the announcement of the imposition of all-women shortlists.
Following the shock General Election result last week, Ms Bowden was quick to criticise opposition politicians.
She said: “Seeing that smug smile wiped off Nicola Sturgeon’s (the leader of the SNP) face was also very satisfying 😊Labour on the way back in Scotland!”.
But her comments were condemned as “tribal” and “sectarian”.
Yet it is her tweets from Italy which have prompted the most anger among her constituents.
As they show, geography has featured strongly in Ms Bowden’s life, although not always for the right reasons.
She has been the focus of alarm over her lack of links to the constituency she now represents, and she is a firm supporter of Bristol City football club, in her home city.
It appears she is also keen to tell her constituents how she represents them on the Welsh language committee – even though she does not speak the language.
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