Wednesday, 11 November 2009

“Clinging pathetically to some shred of welsh culture”

Firstly dear readers – my sincerest apologies for the lack of blogging over the past few weeks. Things have changed a lot in PC HQ which has held us away from our respective keyboards.

Last week I stumbled across a programme that inspired me to get back into the swing of things.
Called Cymru Hywel Williams this programme takes a look back at Welsh history and not only questions the future of Wales as a nation, but questions the very concept of today’s Wales as a nation. It’s an interesting watch you can see it (with subtitles) here.

Hywel Williams argues that historically Wales has preferred to integrate with the English way of life rather than try to stand on its own two feet. He argues that since the age of Henry Tudor the Welsh have chosen to accept throwaway gifts from the English (like a Welsh language Bible, S4C and the Senedd) rather than stand up for itself as a nation. During this first episode of a series of six Hywel Williams claims that this weakness is born from an obsession with culture, which has led to the Nation’s loyalty being bought by the English.

Wales is often seen as a country full of radical thinkers and socialists fighting for the greater good. A nonsense according to Mr Williams who believes that support in Wales for the great socialist causes (Miners Strike etc) came from an inner guilt, and not from an underlying belief in equality and justice.

According to the historian Wales is fixated with the legends and fairytales of old and oblivious to its current lack of leaders, leadership and direction. Whilst other fledgling nations have fought for freedom and self determination, ours has chosen to fight for by-lingual signs whilst also standing by to watch the aristocracy reassert their right over Wales (Prince Charles’s crowning and The Queen opening the Senedd are used as examples).

So how much truth is there in this damning assessment of our Country? Are we just “clinging pathetically to some shred of welsh culture”?

Personally I think there is some merit in Hywel Williams’ logic – but I also feel that his conclusions are overly pessimistic. I also feel that his findings are representative of his background.

I was struck that not once during the episode did Hywel Willliams balance his argument with reference to the undoubted pride that the people of Wales have in being Welsh. What ‘being Welsh’ constitutes differs from person to person – but anecdotal evidence tell us that there is a ferocious passion here to the concept of ‘being Welsh’. Just take a look at Cardiff on a match day, or the Welsh viewing figures for Gavin and Stacey. Doesn’t this pride account for something?

I was also struck that a he chose not to balance his piece with reference to some of Wales most radical thinkers – people who have fought for equality and social justice – people like Aneurin Bevan and the scores of community development workers and voluntary organisations who’s (often radical) work goes unnoticed.

I don’t know what to make of this programme, I can’t decide whether I liked it or not, but I can tell you one thing it’s certainly got the little grey cells working!

Your thoughts are welcomed and today (as ever) actively encouraged!

Dewi Un



Anonymous said...

I wrote about it on my blog and as I agree it should get others thinking as well.

Al Iguana said...

I agree. Since Glyndŵr did a runner we have been walking around like a chicken without a head. So we look to England to give us head (excuse the pun).

We ARE passionate, patriotic, radical, all those things. We're just too used to England doing things for us. Chartists - why didn't they set up a Welsh parliament in Newport when they had the chance. Bevan - why didn't he push for devolution? Why does everything always have to be inside the Westminster system?

We need leaders, correct. We need people to stand up and say what they think, and mean what they say. Trouble is, when such people appear, we call them "nationalists" and "troublemakers" and ostracise them or put them in jail. Why? Because that's what England wants us to do. We've been brainwashed.

Stand up for the patriots, the nationalists. Stand beside them, stand with them. We can do things for ourselves, don't let any politician tell you otherwise.

(Which is why there is, rightly in my view, admiration for Adam Price. He puts his money where his mouth is. A leader, and a badly needed one)

Anonymous said...

It could come down to geography. Most of the heavily populated areas in Wales are within 30 mins of England. Cardiff, Wrexham, Newport etc. You could say they have been industrialized by England through the years and ultimately Anglicized.

Rural Wales is a little harder to penetrate so the culture and language stays much much stronger and many are self sufficient in areas such as Farming, Fishing and tourism and less dependent on outside interference.

Wales is like Scotland and her people are proud of their country but I think the difference in Wales when it comes to Nationalism is that in Wales the arguments tend to be around culture and in Scotland its more to do with economics.

You only have to look at where Plaid is strongest and then look at the statistics for Welsh speakers.

In Scotland we have a large buffer between the main populated areas and England (The Borders) and so thus making Scotland just that little bit harder to be more under the thumb of England.

Also Wales has been a partner with England far longer than Scotland and Scotland (Not via the populous) decided to become part of the Union but keeping her own education systems, laws and churches.

I'm probably talking rubbish but its just an opinion.

Anonymous said...

Dewi UN: "Just take a look at Cardiff on a match day, or the Welsh viewing figures for Gavin and Stacey."

Duw, help us! If that's your barometer of being proud to be Welsh. Williams is being a little pessimistic and we're basically in a corner hemmed in by a populous country speaking the world's most prestigious language. We're desperate to cling and win any concession as we have to fight on two fronts to save our heritage, language and culture - the disinterest and some ties antagonism of the centre (London) and the Quizlings of the Labour and British parties which will put any Welshness which isn't in the images of Englishness down.

As long as some cling onto the 'radical socialist' we'll be ignored and ridiculed. The Brit state hardly know were here. Those Brit nat Labour MPs and the culture which supported them have kept us down over the decades and have made us invisible.

Anonymous said...

I always thought the one event that defined us as a nation is when the Welsh bishops stuck two fingers up to St Augustine of Canterbury.

I do have a couple of other thoughts but I will probably blog on that myself.

Pelagius said...

Mike, you are right. That's exactly what I did. We met him where the old Severn ferry used to be.