The Nationalist Fringe


Charlie Evans
@CharlieDEvans


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.

One thought on “The Nationalist Fringe

  1. Interesting article, Charlie and little to disagree with but sadly Welsh nationalism is not only confined to Gwynedd. Still, it features large in Welsh Government, many other Councils and surprisingly in Welsh Conservatives too.

    Take the following statement about the Welsh language issued recently by the Welsh Government: https://gov.wales/cymraeg-it-belongs-to-us-all-html#section-47093

    It states “The Welsh language – y Gymraeg – is integral to our culture, our heritage and our daily lives” – Find it profoundly dishonest as I happen to live on Anglesey and hardly ever hear Welsh spoken. Also, a frequent visitor to Bangor (Gwynedd) and again little to no Welsh in the daily lives of most people there.

    There are other fallacies as you read on especially that Welsh will be thriving in 2050 as all the academic studies including Bangor University clearly show that children from non-Welsh speaking homes in Welsh Medium Education, abandon Welsh, never use it socially and quickly forgotten.

    So what’s all this about? In part, the answer lies in the statistics the Welsh Government has disclosed in the same document:

    In 2019/2020, 57% of jobs advertised were given to Welsh speakers (Mainly senior positions) – The lesser equals managed to get 43% of Welsh Government’s jobs (Menial/junior jobs).

    To me, this smacks of Linguistic Racism – Any conversation/debate on this is censored in Wales. Each time I raise this very issue via the Social Media or in my blog on Glasnost UK, I get horrendous abuse, threats and intimidation from the Welsh-speaking nationalists, acceptable?

    On Welsh Conservatives, all that needs to be said is contained in a two-minute video clip in https://www.glasnost.org.uk/2020/05/has-the-welsh-conservative-party-gone-rogue/

    Finally, IMO Wales is declining in all key areas that matter Education/NHS/Economy and all down to imposing a minority language on the majority – Sustainable?

    Like

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