Refuting the idea of Britain as a nation

I very much liked Stuart's post on Welsh Not British on Tuesday, and it's worth showing his graphic again:

     

But I was interested to find out to what extent opinion in Wales is matched by opinion in England. As it happens, it's not all that different.

In Wales:

Welsh only ... 57.5%
Welsh and British only ... 7.1%
Welsh and any other(s) ... 1.2%
Welsh in any form ... 65.9%
Not Welsh ... 34.1%

British only ... 16.9%
British and any other(s) ... 9.4%
British in any form ... 26.3%
Not British ... 73.7%

English only ... 11.2%
English and British only ... 1.5%
English and any other(s) ... 1.1%
English in any form ... 13.8%
Not English ... 86.2%

In England:

English only ... 60.4%
English and British only ... 9.1%
English and any other(s) ... 0.7%
English in any form ... 70.1%
Not English ... 29.9%

British only ... 19.2%
British and any other(s) ... 10.1%
British in any form ... 29.3%
Not British ... 70.7%

Welsh only ... 0.6%
Welsh and British only ... 0.1%
Welsh and any other(s) ... 0.1%
Welsh in any form ... 0.8%
Not Welsh ... 99.2%

Census 2011, Table KS202EW

What are we to make of this? The first and most important point is to look at the precise wording of the census question, which was:

How would you describe your national identity?
Tick all that apply ...

As I've noted before, for example in this post, many surveys and opinion polls are not so specific. In the YouGov poll for British Future the wording of the questions was:

Would you say you see yourself as ...
... English/Scottish/Welsh/None of these?

and

And which, if any, of the following best describes how you see yourself?
... Welsh not British/More Welsh than British/Equally Welsh and ... etc, etc.

When asked that general question, the answers were:

In Wales:

Welsh, not British ... 21%
More Welsh than British ... 22%
Equally Welsh and British ... 37%
More British than Welsh ... 9%
British, not Welsh ... 6%
Other ... 5%

In England:

English, not British ... 19%
More English than British ... 18%
Equally English and British ... 43%
More British than English ... 8%
British, not English ... 6%
Other ... 5%

YouGov, April 2012

On the face of it, the census and the YouGov poll appear to say exactly the opposite. From the YouGov poll, it would be possible for someone to say that 74% of people in Wales see themselves as British to some degree. But the census shows that 74% of people in Wales do not see their national identity as British to any degree.

However these percentages are in fact answers to completely different questions. The problem is that politicians and others, notably in the media, either unintentionally or deliberately misinterpret the results. The broadcast media in particular invariably think of "British" as a description of nationality. YouGov described their poll as "Nationality Perceptions". The Western Mail headlined their story:

     England and Scotland "could learn" from Wales about national identity

The truth is that each one of us has a wide range of stacked identities. To use an example I gave before: someone could identify themselves as living on the Gurnos, in Merthyr, in the Valleys, in south Wales, in Wales, in Britain, in the UK, in the EU, in Europe and in the northern hemisphere. All of these are equally valid identities, but someone's national identity is much more specific. It is perfectly possible, in fact highly likely, that someone in Denmark would identify themselves as "equally Danish and Scandinavian" ... but they would not consider their nationality to be Scandinavian. Similarly, someone in the Netherlands would be more than likely to identify themselves as "equally Dutch and European" ... but they would not consider their nationality to be European.

-

These results from the census are too obvious to ignore: although many people identify themselves as British, very few people in either Wales or England consider Britain to be a nation. Instead, by a huge margin, we consider Britain to be a group of nations. Of course we share closer geographical, historical, cultural and family ties with each other than we do with the other nations in the world. But there's nothing unique or unusual about this, for exactly the same is true of the nations which make up Scandinavia, Arabia, Iberia or the Caribbean.

Why, then, do we have to put up with an incessant stream of what can only be described as spin, hype and blatant propaganda from politicians and the media describing Britain as a nation? We, along with our friends in England and Scotland, must expose and challenge them when they do so.
 

 
Footnote

I wrote most of this post yesterday, before today's news about Ed Miliband rehashing his speech on Britain being "One Nation". Although it's not unique to Labour, for when he said it before the Tories were quick to point out that he was stealing their clothes.

But I'd ask people to think about why he is saying it again right now. It can only really be in response to this week's census figures. If not thinking of one's nationality as British in any way, shape or form was mainly confined to Wales and Scotland, harping on about "One Nation" could perhaps be excused as ignorance on his part. But as a similar percentage of people in England think the same, it can only be a deliberate attempt to sell the idea of Britain being a nation to an electorate that has comprehensively rejected it.

Bookmark and Share

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

So where is the Plaid Cymru press release and response saying that it is policy of the British state and of Britishnes to undermine the Welsh language.

Where is the Plaid Cymru spokesperson - Leann, Joni Eds, Rhodri Glyn calling Labour hypocrits for campaiaging for English but not Welsh. No point sending a couple of tweets or saying it in private. This is the political battle. This is politics. Why aren't they making this a campaign. Why isn't there an anti-British narrative. Why don't Plaid say they want to adopt Milliband's speach word for word for the defnece and promotion of Welsh.

Why not?

Plaid's leadership and AMs are cowards. They still won't attack the British state even when the British state is undermining and killing their language.

About this Welsh nationality, well, ok, nice, but if Welsh nationality is just a version of English nationality, then frankly it's not worth a fig. Unless the Welsh language is an integral part of everyone's Welsh nationality - that is being able to speak Welsh or at least their children being able - then the British state has succeeded. The British state will have succeeded in creating a Welsh nationality in the image of Englishness. I'm sure the numbers in the Amman Valley and Carms are very high when it comes to nationality - but they've not passed the langauge on, so what use is it?

I don't know what nationality is. It's a construct. I know what a language is and that is more important.

Welsh not British said...

Anon 0900. Cymraeg has a far greater chance of suvival in a free Wales. The only way for that to happen is if the monoglots in the valleys wake up and stop voting Labour. And yes the only way for that to happen is if Plaid grow a pair and take the fight to Labour.

Why are some of the poorest areas of Europe continuing to vote for a party that only has the interests of the people of another country at heart?

When I was making the graph the thing that came to mind was Leane Wood stating she intends on fighting for a seat in the next elections.

If Plaid cannot use the census results to highlight the clear open goals that are available to a party who finally start to adopt pro-Wales politics (as opposed to left for the sake of it) then there is no helping them or us.

They have to adopt pro-Wales and anti-Wales language and forget about the Tories and forget about Westminster. As the SNP have shown, if you have a nationalist party in charge of your country then you change it for the better and you can ask your people to free themselves.

Anonymous said...

Plaid have to develop an anti British state and Britishness narrative and weave it into every strategy.

They knew these census results were going to be bad, but they listened to DET who seems to think he's now AM for Rhondda not Meirion Dwyfor who went on and on about the growth in the Valleys. It hasn't happened. That's not a reason to give up but it's a reason to stop deluding our selves as Plaid has done for the last 10 years.

Why was there no antiBritishness narrative during the Jubilee or Olympics. Why not anti British narrative for this census return. Being a part of the British state has been an absolute disaster for Wales. Lets go on the attack and start de-normalising Britishness and the union jack. We have to have a fight. Plaid AMs have policies coming out of their ears but no guts to attack Britishness and the British state - and yes, use those words not 'Westminster'.

Owen said...

I think it would be fair to describe the UK as a "nation state". I've mentioned before that one of the only ways I can see the UK surviving is in a constitutional and institutional manner.

It's important to point out that we don't know what effect the Olympics will have had on the figures. But seeing as the Census was taken around that "Big British" wedding last year, and seems to have had little effect on identity, I imagine any effect from the Olympics will be temporary. It could've even been damaged further after scandals at a "great British institution" like the BBC, and the fact that it's beginning to sink in that the Scots are going to ask themselves if they want to become independent.

Ed Miliband has a track record on talking nonsense on the constitution and this isn't any different. But I'm convinced the "One Nation" he's referring to is very much England. The only people who've talked any sort of sense on the constitution from a Unionist angle, but have been roundly ignored, are Carwyn Jones and David Melding. But they're just Little Welshies, aren't they?

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure what Welsh nationality is. Met two men yesterday from Valleys and Cardiff who didn't know what 'bara brith' was.

OK, it's not the 'bara brith' test, but, what exactly is a Welsh nationality?

I know what the Welsh language is - I can point at it. But nationality?

I suppose it's up to the indivudual, but if one doesn't speak Welsh, votes for English/British parties, has cultural references which doesn't encompass even some basic knowledge of Welsh history, cuisine, traditions or music, then, honestly what is this identity?

Not trying to point a finger, just I don't know what Welsh nationality is and if one can be a 'proud Welshman' and not pass on language to child then, really, is it such a broad and thin identity that it is worthless?

Welsh not British said...

Surely you can define Welsh nationality as someone who will put Wales before the British state. Most of the people who vote for British parties do so because they don't know any better.

They need educating and if Plaid are not willing to educate the people they want to vote for them then why do they even bother?

Neilyn said...

The results are certainly encouraging. Why are Plaid (so far) reticent about making political capital here? They should be going for Ed Milliband's jugular given the "One Nation" propaganda.

Anonymous said...

Plaid AMs haven't got "policies coming out of their ears"! Would the average Welsh person know what they would do with the NHS, benefits, the trains or business taxes? I probably would, but nobody out there knows why a Plaid government would be better than Labour. In fact alot of people probably (misguidedly) think it would be worse! This has to be nailed and communicated before we can think of enough people in Neath, the Rhondda, even Carmarthen West to change their votes so that Plaid can win. Having a Welsh identity is the one thing that comes over strongly from Plaid. The rest is mostly unknown.

Anonymous said...

Are we really, honesty back to the days of wondering "what is Wales"? Seriously? It is whatever is out there and whatever all the influences in what Gwyn Alf Williams called these two peninsulas have combined to create. As with all nationalities it is completely constructed and imagined, and adaptable.

Plaid Cymru has simply never reflected what Wales is, to the same degree as elements of Labour (not all of the party, just elements). The one part of Welshness they have reflected is the language.

Anonymous said...

"Met two men yesterday from Valleys and Cardiff who didn't know what 'bara brith' was."

Bara brith is more popular in north Wales. I'm sure quite a few north walians wouldn't understand what 'cawl' is in the way it's used in the south. For north Walian Welsh speakers cawl is just the word for soup, in the south it's a particular dish. My point is that these things are regional within Wales.

Anonymous said...

This article is an exercise in missing the point.

Firstly, Ed Miliband's One Nation 'propaganda' in not a means of destroying the cultural identity of the Celtic fringes, it is a response to Tory divide and rule 'propaganda'. This is somewhat complicated somewhat by the Scottish referendum but you will hear more in the future about how devolution (beyond the national and regional level) will feed into the One Nation discourse.

You will be fully aware that people's answers to questions very much rely on the way the question is asked. Current events also have a massive impact on people's views. People will feel more British following the Olympics and more Welsh following a Grand Slam victory. To try and develop a more comprehensive argument around national identity, particularly an identity so poorly defined as British will get you nowhere.

The only way people will support Welsh independence, which is what this post is fundamentally about, is if nationalists put forward a clear and convincing economic argument that even the likes of the quasi-academic Adam Price has failed to do so far.

MH said...

To Anon 9:00, I'm not sure that it is it the policy of the British state and of Britishness to undermine or kill the Welsh language.

But I do think that we ought to take the logic of what Ed Miliband has said now, and of what David Cameron said before (for example here) and insist that the same standards are applied to Welsh where as are applied to English.

I would also say that it is pointless to have an anti-British narrative, and that you've misunderstood my point completely. The point that I'm making is that there is nothing wrong with considering yourself British in the same way as there is nothing wrong with Swedes considering themselves to be Scandinavian. The narrative that needs to be addressed is that politicians and the media keep calling Britain a nation, even though the vast majority of people on this island don't consider Britain to be a nation.

-

As for Labour, I haven't had the stomach to read through Ed Miliband's speech this time round, so I can't comment on it in detail. But I did watch it first time round at the Labour Party conference. What was interesting was that Owen Smith, who had just become Shadow Secretary of State for Wales, made a carefully crafted speech including a reference to "the nations of Britain". Imagine how he must have felt to hear his leader trample roughshod over what he'd just said.

I'd also remind people that Carwyn Jones started talking about the Welsh national interest when Cameron used the UK's veto in order to protect the interests of London's banking industry. And that he is also talking about reforming the UK constitutional arrangements so that the nations of the UK have a specific role in a federal structure. Nobody's taking much notice of him, though.

MH said...

This is one of the rare occasions where I disagree with Owen. The UK is not a nation state because it is not a nation. It is best described as a state or a sovereign state, and is recognized as such by the international community. Most of the other 190 or so sovereign states in the world are also nations ... so "nation state" is a good way of describing them ... but the UK of GB&NI isn't really one of them. Wales and Scotland (... and indeed England) are best described as "stateless nations".

I do agree that Carwyn Jones (as I mentioned above) and David Melding are at least making efforts to think things through. I just think that they are way behind the curve. If the ideas they are now espousing had been adopted twenty years or so ago, I think a federal UK might have been possible. Now it's all too late. The uneven centrifugal forces that result from an asymmetrical system will tear the UK apart. The break up is inevitable, it's only a question of when. I think that once one stateless nation in the EU becomes independent (Catalunya, probably) then Scotland, Euskadi, and Flanders will all follow in quick succession. The question is whether Wales is part of that first wave, or is in the second wave.

-

I really have no time for defining what Welsh (or any other) nationality is for people who claim not to understand it. Just accept that a large majority in Wales consider their national identity to be Welsh. It doesn't depend on knowing what bara brith is any more than what a lock forward is. English national identity doesn't depend on knowing what silly mid off or a beefeater is, either.

-

Finally, I have to smile at Anon 23:58's idea of me "missing the point". My post wasn't primarily about his party leader's speech, and wasn't about independence at all. It was about national identity.

Specifically, it was about the difference between asking general, undefined questions about Welshness and Britishness as opposed to asking a specific question about national identity.

The census results show that very few people in any of the nations of Britain regard Britain as a nation. The vast majority of us think of our nationality as Welsh (or English or Scottish) rather than as British or even "Welsh and British". That is something that his party, as well as the other unionist parties, would do well to note.

And don't be so jealous of Adam Price. Harvard University may not rank quite as highly as your local college, but I'm sure they will be delighted to learn that they have at least reached the milestone of becoming a quasi-academic institution.

Anonymous said...

Regarding British identity, have a look at John Major's take in 1993.

"Fifty years on from now, Britain will still be the country of long shadows on cricket grounds, warm beer, invincible green suburbs, dog lovers and pools fillers and, as George Orwell said, 'Old maids bicycling to holy communion through the morning mist'."

These are no doubt delightful images, but they are quintessentially English images.

Robert Llewellyn Tyler

Anonymous said...

MH

I understand the point you're making about being relaxed but Britishness it is not like Scandinavianism and it is being used as a way to undermine Welsh. The only way that Britishness can be understood as Scandinavianess is by challenging and undermining it at every opportunity.

Plaid Cymru need to come out with a consistent anti-British state narrative. They failed to do so for the last decade if not more. With Miliband's speech coming the the day after the census figures the point needed to me made and the narrative hardened that the British state has had a deliberate policy of minoritising the Welsh language. It's up for those who support Britishness to argue against that line. Plaid just havn't managed to get that narrative across because fundamentaly nobody since Gwynfor has had the intellectual courage to try and undermine Britishness and the Brtish state.

Plaid failed to make a nationalist case during the Olympics when a case could have been made for a Welsh team. That would have been unpopular with many but would have undermined the 'one nation' narrative. And hey, who knows, maybe some people would quite like to see a Wales team. But what we had was Plaid AMs showing their support for Welsh atheletes. Not once did Plaid put together a press release and go to the press with the story that they wanted a Wales team. What's to lose - we're on 10% of the vote for heaven's sake. By not showing leadership Plaid allowed the British together narrative to go unopposed and so marginalised Welsh nationalism and Welsh nationality.

Plaid have now failed to, in fact, refuse to make the link between being a part of the British state means Welsh will always be treated second best to English.

The lesson from the Basque Country is that a national movement needs to have a strong nationalist narrative and strong anti-majority state narrative (Spain/UK) and stick to it.

Plaid avoid doing this and it has undermined they national movement and effectively created no new nationalists in 15 years. Plaid even failed to beat the LibDems in the bye-election in Cardiff South Penarth.

Plaid is going no where because it is coming out with policies but not coming out with a simple narrative which undermines the banal British nationalism. I'm afraid MH Wales won't be in the first nor second wave of independence nations because the Welsh will be totally unready to think of themselves capable of independence or even to wish independence because Plaid are not making a coherent, strategic case which should be used in all press releases for independence and against the British state.

MH said...

I agree entirely with your first paragraph, 09:19. That's exactly what I said: that we have to challenge those who think of (or at least continually present) Britain as a nation. The point of me writing this post was to give our AMs and MPs some solid facts that they can use to make their challenges effective.

-

However, I think there's one other point that it would be relevant to make, namely that thinking of our nationality as Welsh rather than British does not, in itself, reflect on whether Wales should be an independent nation. In other words, recognizing that most people in Wales (and Britain as a whole) do not think of Britain as a nation is something that should be embraced by every political party and by our media.

You mention a Welsh team at the Olympics. Yet it might surprise some people that Glyn Davies, an arch-Tory if ever there was one, believes that Wales should compete as a separate team in the Olympics. He said so here, and also said he would raise the matter at Westminster. I don't think he has done that yet, and if not, I hope this will act as a reminder.

The project of nation building is not something that we should regard as restricted to Plaid Cymru alone.

Anonymous said...

MH

Thanks for responding. I totally agree that nation building shouldn't be a Plaid Cymru project only, but I'm guessing Plaid is the vanguard and needs to accept that role.

It's not PC's role to be concern for other political positions. Part of Dafydd Elis Thomas's problem seems to be that he wants to give both sides of the arguments, or maybe give the British interpretation of how to promote Welsh and Wales for them and by doing so confuses people, not least those in his own party who become disheartened by his comments.

Regarding Glyn Davies, I have to say I didn't know of this. Thanks. It kind of again raises the point, had Plaid Cymru decided strategically last year to make a Welsh team at the Olympics a part of their political and press strategy (we knew the Olympics were coming!) then, maybe, they could have moved the debate along. As it was, they either hadn't thought of it, or had shied away.

This is the kind of strategic thinking of producing the Nationalist narrative which has been lacking and so denies Plaid it's USP, press coverage and creating a strong nationalist movement.

09:19

Anonymous said...

MH said...

"To Anon 9:00, I'm not sure that it is it the policy of the British state and of Britishness to undermine or kill the Welsh language."

You often try to make the case that Wales / UK has some similarities to Catalunya / Span. Well, today I find this on the web:

"Say no to the spanish government attack against catalan language"

MH said...

Yes, there are many similarities between the situation in Wales and the situation in other stateless nations, 13:13. But that doesn't mean everything is the same. Spain is attacking the Catalan-medium education system, but the UK government isn't doing that in Wales.

Wales now has almost complete control over the Welsh language in Wales. Since last year's referendum we can pass whatever legislation we like on the language. The only matter still specifically excluded is the use of Welsh in courts ... however I think this will be solved when Wales is established as a separate legal jurisdiction in the same way as Northern Ireland is.

We should perhaps add language requirements for immigration as an example of unfairness and double standards. But as so few people are affected, it could hardly be classed as an attack on Welsh.

Anonymous said...

Allowing our communities to be swamped by people who don't speak Welsh and wanting to build 300,000 homes here is hardly supporting the language. The fact that Wales has control over the Welsh language is interesting. The Labour Party which is a British Nationalist and Unionist Party is in charge here and they are seeing the numbers of Welsh speakers drop during their watch. They are representative of the British government here. They hardly need to attack the language. Just over-see it's decline which they are doing.

MH said...

Labour form the Welsh government because more people in Wales voted for them than anyone else. It is ridiculous to say that they are "representative of the UK government"; they represent the way we voted. If we don't like their policies on the language or anything else, we can vote for parties with better policies ... and if enough of us do so, we will have a different government.

I have to say, though, that all parties in the National Assembly are remarkably united in their attitude to Welsh. All support it and want to see it flourish. The only real question is what are the best ways of making that happen. There might be differences of detail and emphasis between parties and between people in parties, but there is no real difference of principle

Anonymous said...

It is not ridiculous to say that they are representative of the UK government. The people may think that they represent them but how are they to know otherwise? By reading the Sun, Mirror, Mail or even Western Mail? You know as well as I do that there is no media in Wales which is pro Wales to hold them to account. Do you think that the Welsh would have supported all the Labour MP's bar Paul Flynn voting to not devolve power over our natural resources? Labour in Wales didn't kick up a fuss either. You even had one or two English Tories in favour of devolving to Wales. Yes, I know they were Westminster Labour but I didn't hear Carwyn Jones and co kick up a fuss. Then how about John Griffiths AM not wanting to set up a Housing Inspectorate ( I think it's called) in Wales and preferring the housing 'needs of Wales' to be decided by some English civil servants? I could go on...

Anonymous said...

There has always been a minority element in Welsh nationalism that ignores the economic question and instead sees the cause as being a titanic ideological struggle between Welshness versus Britishness.

Plaid has actually been doing quite well in developing devolution and aspects of statehood (warning- this is not the same as an independent Wales, though it is a prerequisite for independence being possible), but a minority of nationalists even beats them up for that! As Welsh institutions have developed, albeit lacking a major institution in a Welsh media, identification of being Welsh and not British as a nationality has increased. Plaid can claim credit for this- but only through working in popular fronts with others, usually Labour and usually from the left,

What is unsolved and will remain unsolved is the economic question. Not worrying about the Olympics or the jubilee, or for gods sake questioning what is or isn't Welshness. Ask people about independence. The stock opposition is that we can't afford it. That's the problem, right there. Nothing to do with putting press releases out attacking Britishness!

Thankfully Plaid has a great leader in Leanne Wood who can give it the go it deserves as the next elections. And we should be proud of Adam Price. In an unforgiving political climate, with no media, we must have exceptional leadership to make our vote go as high as possible.

I really object to the talk of Bara Brith. Coronation Street and Man Utd are just as relevant. But we're still here and we need to back our own Welsh political party which is Plaid Cymru. MH does a good job of criticising them but in a balanced way. More should follow his example.

Anonymous said...

I think the person citing Basque nationalism is being disingenuous. They had to put up with fascist dictatorship by Spain with their language and institutions banned or driven underground. If Wales suffered under a British fascist dictatorship, I believe our nationalism would actually be stronger than the Basques. But we live in a different climate. Basque nationalism doesn't come from "undermining Spain" at all. They've never cared for independence, only a left wing vocal minority has. The Basques have got on with their own affairs within the Spanish state and achieved de facto statehood. They've had more Spanish in-migration than we've had English. It is a totally different country. The parts most relevant to us are probably economic.

Anonymous said...

So how come the Basques have had more in-migration that us in Wales if according to some commentators we have the second highest amount of in-migration in the whole of Europe.....and no, the Basques and topping the list but Luxembourg is.

Anonymous said...

The economic and identity question aren't totally irrelevant or unconnected. There has to be an element of 'cultural' and identity politics as a base for an independence and economic debate.

Scotland, which is awash with oil is still finding people who say Scotland 'can't afford independence' when it blatantly can. For Wales, when a significant part of the country identify with another state or nationality above Wales then those arguments become harder.

To get people to look anew at the economic case for Wales they need to look anew at the political (and by implication I'd suggest, cultural) view of Wales. It calls for a new outlook because it's so different from the accepted norm.

The arguments about 'to poor to be independent' have gone with pretty well any aspirant state and they've always been proved wrong. At it's base it's a political argument not an economic one. That economic case is difficult to make if people don't think of Wales as an economic, cultural or political unit and don't aspire to it either.

That, of course, doesn't preclude the necessity of making the economic case rigorously. But one part of the economic debate is to undermine the banal nationalism of Britishness which then creates a space for people to hear an argument for the economic argument.

Being part of the British state has not benefited Wales well economically, but people still feel Wales is 'too poor to be independent'. There is a cultural as well as an economic argument to be won.



Anonymous said...

Anon 09:38 partly you are right but you make another huge leap of faith in your argument. The economic question has been used against many aspirant states but resolving it changes the game. You can't just say its the same for every aspirant state and it's "always unfounded". Scotland has its own GERS that shows how their position would improve economically, though dependent on oil. If we got the equivalent stats for Wales we would simply not be advanced enough. There is much more that needs to be done. In Catalonia there is no question at all and they've actually got a majority for independence in the parliament and in the polls.

I do agree with you though that there needs to be identify politics to go with the economic base. But the one thing Plaid Cymru IS associated with already is being Welsh, and being Welsh speaking. The rest of their agenda is unknown.

We are not doing too badly at the identity politics. The only area where we really lack influence is the Welsh language communities and that's a big problem. But if these arguments are going to be made by questioning what is Welsh and saying "I can't point at it", or adopting a purist view, we may as well give up. We have to have a whole-nation agenda and that includes accepting British identities as part of culture (but not as a nationality). Not waging some kind of psychological war against Britishness.

Welsh not British said...

I don't think an anti-British stance is right. All Plaid need is a pro-Wales stance. The anti-British will follow naturally but will be brought up by opponents who will show themselves for what they truly are.

You cannot be both pro-Wales and pro-British because being British means you are complicit with a colonised Wales.

Anonymous said...

WnB, it's *part* of what Plaid needs but it's not "all" Plaid needs. It's the house, but you also need furniture.

Plaid needs to govern the country. We need a nationalist government. Being pro-Wales won't be enough to win enough votes. Plaid also has to have actual policies, if it wants to be a government. That means finance, transport, business, benefits, health etc. Specifically, in which of these areas would the party be better than Labour (or the Tories for that matter)?

And despite some comments on this thread, I would wager the bulk of people in Wales know that Plaid Cymru is Welsh (that is quite successful as brand recognition), but have no idea what the party would do for them in power. Yet! This can and will change, i'm sure of it.

Anonymous said...

This has been a great political discussion with Plaid Cymru-style civic nationalism contrasted with a more criticial, anti-British kind of perspective. I've enjoyed reading it.

There is enough in the very first comment to disagree with where the comment writer despairs at Plaid Cymru's "cowardice", then gives a flavour to his/her stance by writing this;

"About this Welsh nationality, well, ok, nice, but if Welsh nationality is just a version of English nationality, then frankly it's not worth a fig"

This is indisputably in opposition to Plaid's philosophy. It's such a dismissive and ignorant statement and ignores industrial or post-industrial Wales. It's clearly a deeply held view, but it's not a Plaid Cymru view. The writer thinks Plaid are "cowards". Actually they just by and large wouldn't agree with you. Nothing to do with cowardice. Leanne Wood herself comes from "this Welsh nationality".

Ironically, this kind of post-industrial English-speaking Welshness generally doesn't see itself as British. Leanne Wood wouldn't and Plaid Cymru doesn't. But many people do. And it's okay for those people to feel that way. They just don't need a state to reflect it. The best way to replace aspects of British statehood with aspects of Welsh statehood (including complete independence for Wales) is to show why Welsh statehood would be better.

And this goes back to the need for actual governing policies to be developed much more and promoted much more. Plaid stands for some great principles. But people don't hear about them enough.

Anonymous said...

"The best way to replace aspects of British statehood with aspects of Welsh statehood (including complete independence for Wales) is to show why Welsh statehood would be better."

Big statist ahoy! So, one's nationality is determined by which government gives more freebies? LOL!

Anonymous said...

"Big statist ahoy! So, one's nationality is determined by which government gives more freebies? LOL!"

What an ignorant comment. I referred to statehood, not nationality.

One's statehood preference is shaped by which preference would deliver more of what people care about. While you dismiss "freebies", the people of Wales in fact overwhelmingly support the principle of socialised goods (they are not free but are paid for in common rather than individually), and support a relatively active role for the state (compared to the UK level, though about the same as much of mainland Europe).

You can see this in the fact that a considerable part of the Assembly's popularity (or increase in acceptance) is based on policies delivered by various governments, even when we perceive those governments to have been quite mediocre and barely innovative.

Additionally, the bulk of voters who would support independence, according to previous analysis by MH, are from Plaid Cymru (largely because of nationality preference and emotional identity, probably) and Labour (because of statehood implications and the kind of policies that would result).

The question of nationality is only one factor in adding to what I have outlined above.

Anonymous said...

15:15 - Plaid Cymru has policies coming out of its ears. Including good economic policies. Policies that Labour ridicule then implement (if that's a good sign or not, I'll leave for another argument).

But it makes no difference. Nobody's listening.

Nobody's listening because people don't listen or cosume Welsh news. Leanne's trying to get round that with social media. But we also need to be part of, and at the forefront of a social movement. That's more diffult, but maybe Plaid needs to internalise this and place it at part of their strategy. Gwynfor would organise a rally of some sort ever five years, just to keep the troops active and generate publicity. Why not try the same now?

Nobody'r listening because we're not making our own luck. Part of making our own luck would be brave, like Farage has been of UKIP in the EU parliament. That is, he's gone to the heart of the EU and attacked it's very morality. I'd like to see Plaid AMs and MPs attack Britishness from the same position. It is the British state which is responsible for killing the Welsh language yet on all the discussion about the census we internalised the problem as if it was only a problem brought about by the Welsh.

I never see young people in rallies, the young Welsh language music scene is essentially dead.

It's good to be positive, but you also need something to fight against. Being agaisnt something is a great motivator - maybe we'd get a mass movement then.

The Labour party has been coasting for generations with no positive news only anti Toryism. So, being against something is a strategy. Plaid should be against Britain and explain why at every opportunity. We're not.

I'm not seeing that bringing out bag fulls of more policies will make any difference. Nobody reads the stuff - I've been there canvassing and nobody gives a damn about policies.

Post a Comment