In recent days, we have witnessed concerning behaviour from sections of the Welsh nationalist movement. With a petition attracting over 1,500 signatures to have a Powys County Councillor disciplined over an article they had written that argued for a change in emphasis towards devolution and touched upon the Welsh language. Is it unreasonable to state that the demand to learn Welsh might differ in different parts of Wales?
Another source of concern has emerged with elected figures in Gwynedd writing to ask the First Minister what measures could be taken to limit the number of people visiting at destinations in Gwynedd. Let us be under no illusion, the people these councillors object to are visitors from England and coronavirus is being used as cover to try to prevent them from visiting. For some in the Welsh nationalist movement, there appears to be a pathological hatred of those from England. Citizens in England should not be treated as second class citizens anywhere within the United Kingdom.
Some Nationalists have also got worked up at the image of a Conservative Welsh Parliament candidate tweeting himself eating in a specific restaurant. The social media pile-on worked itself into a fury over the establishment’s owners links to the Conservative party. One must ask whether in future diners should enquire not about the menu but the political affiliation of the proprietors.
As a candidate in a local council election, I found myself on the receiving end of similar behaviour. Despite enjoying the experience of pounding the streets as a candidate knocking on doors and canvassing. I was struck at the unpleasant attention I received on Welsh nationalist blogs and from cyber nationalists on social media. Recently I contributed some articles to Nation Cymru in an attempt to broaden the debate, at the invitation of the editor. However, the reaction was demoralising instead of debate or discussion many objected to someone from a conservative perspective being part of the conversation.
As someone raised to value Welsh culture and language. I find it depressing that disagreement over matters like the means for growing the language may generate such hostility. There seems to be an unpleasant side to some of the advocates of Welsh nationalism, who appear to be parochial and indifferent to subtle differences within parts of Wales. Different cultures and languages exist within Wales this should not be grounds for friction. Yet there seems to be a decidedly unpleasant intolerance of the English language and those not deemed to be conforming with Welsh culture. I sincerely doubt and hope that cyber nationalists would not treat those originating from outside of the United Kingdom but settled here with this sort of hostility.
The language deployed by some within the nationalist movement is that of exclusion, hatred and even xenophobia. Such criticism is of course not attributable to the entire nationalist movement but the time for seeing Celtic nationalism as an inclusive and cuddly form of nationalism must come to an end. All forms of nationalism have an unpalatable fringe and Welsh Nationalism is no different.