Some facts about Welsh independence, posted by Yantorbo Rob on Youtube; a clip from current affairs programme, Y Byd ar Bedwar, demonstrating the pressure, in this case deliberate, to which English incomers, who could become the majority in Wales by the end of the century, subject Wales’s national language and culture; and a brief video by Robin Williams reminding us of the Welsh Not and the cane, the two weapons that were used to Anglicise schoolchildren in Victorian and Edwardian Wales.
‘With the future of Wales being constantly undermined by the Tory Government, we believe independence is now the only viable option for our future as a nation.’
Iestyn ap Rhobert, Chair, YesCymru
These articles also make the economic case for Welsh independence. One, by former Member of Parliament, Adam Price, in Huffington Post, explores the greater flexibility that smaller economies have over large, and a second, by Adam Price in Wales Online, suggests how an independent Wales can address its budget deficit; the third, by Gwynfor Evans, and recently republished by Bella Gwalia, argues that an independent Wales would adapt its economy to serve the needs of its people, and studies the objections that prevent that case from being made. Mike Hedges A.M. argues that Welsh independence would be less risky than Brexit, since its terms could be negotiated prior to a referendum, a series of articles on State of Wales explore Wales’s currency options as an independent state, and Dr John Ball of Swansea University, writing for the Institute of Welsh Affairs, reflects more generally on the economic structures that a Welsh state would need. Research by YouGov found that 26% of the Welsh population supports independence, and that 28% supports independence to preserve Welsh membership of the EU. In response to this, and in response to the constitutional crisis precipitated by Brexit, Plaid Cymru commits itself to seeking a referendum on Welsh independence by 2030, and Labour for an Independent Wales offer their own ten reasons for seeking a Welsh nation state.
Articles by John Dixon politely destroys the false dichotomy set by Carwyn Jones between the head and the heart, while warning us that Welsh democracy cannot be safeguarded within the United Kingdom; Adam Price reminds us of Wales’s status as an English colony; the poet and novelist Patrick McGuiness reflects on his own conversion to Welsh citizenship and Welsh nationalism; and an article on Politics by Rebuttal asks whether an independent Wales would be willing to give up its language, its natural resources, and its democracy, as conditions of accession to the United Kingdom. And Hannah Arendt, Amos Oz and Ernest Gellner offer thoughts on nationhood of relevance to Wales, in the concertina below.
Meanwhile, the Welsh government’s strategy to increase the number of Welsh-speakers to one million by the middle of the century, Cymraeg 2050, leads to accusations of child abuse in The Guardian and The Times which Ifan Morgan Jones describes as akin to racial prejudice, while research conducted by Roger Scully finds widespread support in Wales for policies to protect and preserve the Welsh language, and an informal analysis of social media by Barn Cymro finds the vast majority of Anti-Welsh language activists to be English, and living in England.
The last few chapters of Hannah Arendt’s book, The Origins of Totalitarianism, yield ideas of value to us in Wales. First, Arendt emphasises the relationship between civil liberty and the nation state, such that the emergent Republic of France proclaimed the Rights of Man and gave equal status to its Jewish population, because the nation state bases its authority on its right to treat all citizens as equals, regardless of ethnicity or creed. Hence, nationalism is by nature civic nationalism, and to apply the term ‘nationalism’ to the racist and imperialist movements of the last century is either to misunderstand the phenomenon, or to abuse the word.
But while the nation state, says Arendt, treats all its citizens alike, it also seeks the uniformity of a single national language and culture, and cannot tolerate indigenous minorities within its borders: it seeks to destroy the Slovenes in Hungary, the Germans in Romania, either through assimilation, or through genocide. Unconsciously, Arendt echoes the language of Matthew Arnold, supporting the decision of the UK parliament deliberately and utterly to annihilate Welsh culture as a means of destroying the will of the Welsh people to rule themselves, and to better themselves — the unhappy effects of which we still suffer in our impoverished and divided country. Hence, to speak, as Rhodri Morgan spoke, of Wales as a nation and of Britain as a nation, of being both Welsh and British with disadvantage to neither, to imagine a future for Wales in Britain which is more than a cultural, social and economic slow suicide, would be, in Arendt’s view, a terrible political mistake: Wales’s act of national stupidity — Wales’s Brexit.
Those for whom the word ‘Welsh nationalist’ automatically carries connotations of militarism, racism, and the hysterical love of the nation state might consider the following passage by Amos Oz (In the Land of Israel. 1983. Trans. by Maurie Goldberg-Bartura):
This is the place to make my first shocking confession — others will follow. I think that the nation state is a tool, an instrument, that is necessary for a return to Zion, but I am not enamoured of this instrument. The idea of the nation state is, in my eyes, “goyim naches” -- a gentiles’ delight. I would be more than happy to live in a world composed of dozens of civilisations, each developing in accordance with its own internal rhythm, all cross-pollinating one another, without any one emerging as a nation state: no flag, no emblem, no passport, no anthem. No nothing. Only spiritual civilisations tied somehow to their lands, without the tools of statehood, and without the instruments of war.
But the Jewish people has already staged a long-running one-man show of that sort. The international audience sometimes applauded, sometimes threw stones, and occasionally slaughtered the actor. No one joined us; no one copied the model the Jews were forced to sustain for two thousand years, the model of a civilisation without “the tools of statehood.” For me this drama ended with the murder of Europe’s Jews by Hitler. And I am forced to take it upon myself to play the “game of nations,” with all the tools of statehood, even though it causes me to feel (as George Steiner put it) like an old man in a kindergarten.
Finally, the philosopher Ernest Gellner in his book, Nations and Nationalism, explores the history of separatist nationalism as a response to the centralising and assimilationist policies that emerged in the historic nation states as a consequence of the Industrial Revolution. His thinking is summarised in the brief quote below:
The roots of nationalism in the distinctive structural requirements of of industrial society are very deep indeed. This movement is the fruit neither of ideological aberration, nor of emotional excess.... [It is] the external manifestation of a deep adjustment in the relationship between polity and culture which is quite unavoidable.’
‘Brexit will become a reality, with all its negative consequences, in March next year, unless there is a change of heart among our British friends. We on the continent haven’t had a change of heart. Our hearts are still open to you.’
Government forecasts of the damage caused by Brexit, shown above, are joined by studies by Global Future, confirming that in every possible scenario, the UK will become worse off, by analysis by Berenberg Bank, confirming that the UK has neither the scale to dominate global trade, nor the legal burden to benefit from deregulation, by the Treasury’s forecast, before the referendum, of permanent economic decline, and by the advice of the overwhelming majority of economists in the UK.
Support for Brexit was drawn from the elderly, with most voters under the age of forty-nine voting to remain in the EU, meaning that as Brexit voters die of old age, their majority will vanish by the year 2020. In Wales, whose economy would be decimated under WTO rules, more than three quarters of voters would reject an economically damaging Brexit, and a poll by Global Future shows that Leavers as well as Remainers believe the price of Brexit to be too high. While one quarter of Leave voters say they were lied to by the Leave campaign, evidence mounts that the campaign broke the law, that they knowingly used the techniques of Nazi propaganda, and that Russia influenced the Brexit vote through illicit funding and fake news.
The referendum, which was followed by a 23% rise in hate crime against racial and religious minorities, also led to an astonishing array of threats and abuse against Remain activists and liberals, as Brexiteers demanded that we kill ourselves, be killed, be hanged, be shot, be murdered by hitmen, and be sent to the gas chambers. While a YouGov poll showed that over half of Brexit voters favour hanging, and 42% favour beatings in schools, studies show that Brexit is a product of English nationalism, and reflects a hatred and mistrust of the Celtic nations. A simple majority of voters believe that the referendum result was a mistake, and a majority of voters support the calls for a people’s vote on the final deal.
20th April: The German journalist, Sebastian Haffner, remarked that the effect of the Nazi race laws was to give legal existence to concepts that had no other existence, to force race and purity of blood into being with nothing but their own brutality: it became important to be pure German, to be Aryan, because one’s life depended on it. The insight has other parallels in our time, but a year or so after Theresa May set out to unite us as a British nation which, like the Aryan race, has no existence except for the obedience it demands; a year or so after she set out to abolish our European identities, and weaken our Scottish and Welsh identities; a year or so after she set out to crush the Welsh and Scottish nationalists who seek, as she claimed, to divide us, I find it almost impossible to pay attention to the needs of my own country — the undermining of its political and cultural identity, its twenty-year domination by a single party, the growing crisis brought about by the suicide of one its ministers — because of the constant anger and fear that her policies arouse in me.
On 13th April on the London Underground, a woman sustained head injuries after being attacked by two female passengers for speaking her native Spanish. Her assailants are believed to be English-language activists, who believe that English – a minority Low German dialect with barely one billion speakers – should be given legal protection to prevent its natural decline. Since physical assaults on Spanish speakers are potentially illegal, and can forfeit the sympathies of educated Welsh speakers, Rob Mimpriss considers what non-violent means English nationalists can use to protect their threatened culture.
My local Asda displays men’s toiletries, not beside the women’s toiletries, but beside the household cleaning products.
9th April: If the British ignore a petition which has garnered thirty thousand signatures in a country of only three million in just a few days, and which already represents a whole one per cent of the population, then they openly acknowledge that Welsh democracy is meaningless, and that even such a groundswell of protest, if it comes from Wales, can be ignored. If, on the other hand, they bow to this petition, then they confess that Wales is not a principality, and that the crown prince of England — if there should be such a thing — has no title to Wales. In either case, the recent fashionable lie that the UK is an equal partnership of willing participants, and that Wales is not a colony of England, is exposed.
If a man gives me a casual back-hand blow, I am advised to turn my face to the side, to challenge him with the other cheek that can only be struck with the fist. The constant humiliation of an equal must be perpetuated either by ignorance, which is now fading in Wales, or by the threat of violence. Wales’s growing awareness of itself must lead to oppression or to liberation. The very sourness and weariness of Rod Liddle’s remarks acknowledges that the old relationship is no longer possible.
I quote the former MP Adam Price on Twitter: ‘If we must name this bridge after a prince let it be Owain, surviving son of the last real Prince of Wales (pre-Glyndŵr) who, arrested at age eight, spent his entire adult life in a wooden cage in Bristol Castle so the Welsh would know their place. If only we knew our own history.’
7th April: An anti-Brexit activist informs me that among the questions that YouGov is asking of its correspondents today is whether the news over the next twelve months should contain tips on how to survive the recession.
By private agreement between the Swedish government and the Swedish royal family, the Øresund Bridge between Sweden and Denmark, currently named after the water it crosses, is renamed the Charles X bridge, in honour of the Swedish king who invaded Denmark in 1658, and razed its capital, Copenhagen, to the ground. The people of Denmark naturally protest, demanding that the bridge retain its geographical name, or be named after some joint Scandinavian achievement, or after some Swedish figure less insensitive to Danish history.
It later transpires that while the decision to rename the bridge was made entirely in Sweden, the Danish government was ‘informed’ of the change, but decided not to bother complaining. The Danish ambassador to Sweden tells his people that they should ‘respect’ King Charles X, and castigates them for being evil nats. The reason this has not happened, and the debacle over the Severn Bridge is happening as I write, is that Wales still belongs to England, and therefore deserves no better.
By agreement between the Republic of France and the European Union, the Channel Tunnel is renamed in honour of Charles de Gaulle. The people of England understandably object, and a sharp increase in spontaneous human combustion is observed among Daily Mail readers. It transpires that Theresa May was notified of the change while Home Secretary, but didn’t get around to doing anything about it.
The disagreement over the Channel Tunnel is settled to the satisfaction of both sides, at which point the Welsh timidly pipe up, and ask if they get a say in what the Severn Bridge is called. Both sides round on them in a fury, to condemn them as a threat to the stability of Europe, and as small-minded, paranoid, divisive and evil nats.
‘The View from Germany: Brits are in denial about their diminishing global importance.’ Click to read an article by Ruth Berschens of the leading German business paper, Handelsblatt, on the UK’s failed attempts to fracture the European Union, or to create a new trade association with its former colonies, and on the consequences of its future prosperity and influence, and its political unity.
The reason my website has so many backlinks from Russian pornography sites is that deep down, their clients are searching for verity that only my art can provide.
A man is accused of a capital offence, brought to trial, and found guilty. While he is awaiting his execution, it transpires that the star witness against him lied, and indeed, was paid for lying.
It is decided that the execution should still go ahead, partly because the prosecution would probably have got a conviction anyway, and partly because it would be unfair on the jury to overturn their verdict. The condemned man is assured of a good deal on the rope required for his hanging, and is vilified for not supporting an execution that works for everybody.
After the rally against Brexit which I attended in Leeds last weekend, I stopped to chat to one of the policemen, and to thank him and his colleagues for policing the event. He smiled warmly, and said I was more than welcome, and it had been a pleasure.
In the Tesco Metro where I stopped to buy a late lunch, an Asian woman was chatting, loudly but good-naturedly, with a Yorkshire accent, to her children. The man behind me in the queue muttered something about fucking Pakis.
Facebook’s invitation that I ‘write a temporary bio’ is intended as a sobering reminder of the evanescence of human life, and the futility of artistic endeavour.
The problem here is not so much that Lincolnshire, or any other English province, might be offered the same powers that the Celtic nations are offered, although in most cases such comparisons are intended to belittle and sting. The problem is that any power that an English province refuses can, with a facile pretence at fair-mindedness, be refused a Celtic nation also.
27th March: #BrexitMeansNazism. And an activist friend in London informs me that as MPs meet to discuss the significance of the fact that the Leave campaign cheated, an anti-Brexit protester outside is attacked by young men giving Nazi salutes, and violently assaulted.
‘Sous prétexte d'information équilibrée, la BBC observe un black-out remarquable sur les manifestations pro européennes au Royaume-Uni.’ [Under the pretext of balanced reportage, the BBC observes a remarkable blackout on pro-European demonstrations in the United Kingdom.]
Philippe Bernard, British/Irish correspondent for Le Monde via Twitter.
The Isis Budget Hotel. For exclusive offers and travel tips, please give your email and fingerprints to reception.
24th March: Among the thousands of demonstrators who took part in the march against Brexit in Leeds today, I saw just two counter-protesters. One flapped his union jack as we walked past, and muttered something patriotic and rousing, and the other held up a sign as we gathered before the stage, handwritten on part of a cardboard box that a vacuum cleaner had come in.
He heckled the speakers, which we didn’t much mind, but as speaker after speaker came forward, and gave speeches he didn’t understand, but disagreed with anyway, he became more and more physically threatening. During one such confrontation, someone quietly fixed a ‘Bollocks to Brexit’ sticker on the back of his jacket. The last I saw of him, it was still there.
The Leeds Isis Budget Hotel. Your belt and shoelaces may be confiscated upon arrival.
22nd March: Yesterday, members of the Senedd in Cardiff and the Parliament of Scotland vote to assume unilateral control of devolved powers currently wielded in Brussels after Brexit, to ensure that Westminster does not attempt to undermine Welsh or Scottish democracy.
‘This Williamson... this — how do you say — Gavin Williamson. He is not strong man. He is like man who sleep with other man, because afraid vagina will eat him, or like woman who sing in feminist punk band, because she has not found man. He is from England, no? Very small, very damp, again like vagina... So, this Williamson, I say we ignore him. But if he die in crucifixion accident, or during night-time visit to abandoned sausage factory, send condolences to widow. Dmitri, you know what to do.’
‘Look at the Irish situation with the British. The humiliation of Native Americans, how their language was denigrated. In Africa, of course, we were forbidden to speak our mother tongues. Japan imposed its language on the Koreans. So wherever you look at modern colonialism, the acquisition of the language of the coloniser was based on the death of the languages of the colonised. So [language] is a war zone.’
The Kenyan writer, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, on colonialism, on writing in one’s national tongue, and how repressive regimes seek to crush the imagination that says there is a better world than the world they rule, in interview with The Nation.
An Englishwoman in Wales claims to be keeping the Welsh language ‘at bay’, and compares Wales with South Africa. This is an instance of the constant racism against the Welsh, for which the only solution is decolonisation. Needless to say, her tweets show pro-Brexit sympathies.
A friend of mine, an anti-Brexit campaigner and socialist in England, remarked on Facebook that it is inconsistent with Jeremy Corbyn’s socialism that he opppose freedom of movement for European workers, and oppose laws designed for their joint protection. I agreed, and added that even though he accedes to the 52% who wish Britain to leave the EU, he ignores the majority in Scotland and Wales who seek greater autonomy within the UK. Within an hour, my English friend had blocked me, apparently for agreeing with her comment. As a Welshman.
I am sensible of the loss. I value my English friends. They give me opportunities to practise my patient sighing.
‘When the British were members of the EU, they wanted opt-outs. Now they are leaving, and they are demanding opt-ins.’ Xavier Bettel, Prime Minister of Luxembourg, on Brexit.
In a recent report described in Nature, scientists reduced the speed of light to 38mph in a cloud of ultra-cold sodium atoms. But nothing will slow down Brexit, says Theresa.
In my small single room in a cheap hotel near the railway station, the single-serving sachet of instant coffee bears the toothmarks of a previous guest.
‘The Mafia make offers you can’t refuse. The British make offers you can’t understand.’ A quip allegedly heard in Brussels.
A study conducted in 2016 into the psychology of the Brexit referendum contains good and bad news for Brexit supporters. The good news is that on average they rated higher on conscientiousness and lower on neuroticism in the Five-Factor Model than those who voted Leave, while the bad news is that they were less swayed by evidence and logic than Remainers, and more driven by emotion and instinct. Members of both camps showed a tendency to over-estimate their good judgement, though older people, who mostly voted for Brexit, were more likely to do so than the young, who mostly did not.
The kinder Brexit supporters with whom I engage insist that there will be no economic damage, that social divisions will not increase, that the closure of Maplin, Toys R Us, Prezzo, East and Mothercare is unrelated to Brexit, and that business leaders who say otherwise don’t understand their own affairs. They insist that at best the fears of voters like me are unfounded and unnecessary, or at worst that they are seditious, and that all academic, commercial and governmental forecasts, whether conducted before or after the referendum, in the UK, in Europe, or further afield, are wrong. I see no way to bridge this gulf. They are doomed never to understand what they have done, I never to understand why they have done it.
There is a theory that the quantum vacuum is unstable, allowing the nucleation of a bubble of space that would expand at the speed of light, in which the fundamental laws of physics would be different.
If such a vacuum engulfed the earth, then atomic matter would break down, and the entire planet dissolve in a fizz of subatomic particles. But even this would not stop Brexit, says Theresa.
In the UK, the government withdraws funding from Cornish-language projects, and fails even to mention the existence of Irish in its report on protected dialects to the Council of Europe. In Wales, the announcement of Cymraeg 2050 is met with a torrent of cross-border racism, as bilingual policy is held up as a cause of everything from road accidents to child abuse.
In Spain, the government seeks to undermine the official status of the Catalan language in a seeming act of collective punishment, which effectively admits that the Catalan people desires independence. For ultimately, nationalism is not vilified because it is violent, or because it is authoritarian, or even because it threatens a delicate international peace. It is abused because it defends the right of someone else’s culture to exist.
Image manipulation by a friend. Theresa May brings her qualities of determination, vision and delicacy of touch to the difficult task of EU negotiation.
Click to read: ‘Wreckage’ — a sailor brought ashore by chance becomes a respected mariner and a mainstay of the local smuggling industry, in my translation of the short story by Thomas Owen Jones, published in Straeon Gwynfor (1931).
It seems that one of the barriers to the restoration of normal governance in Northern Ireland is the DUP’s bitter opposition to any possible Irish Language Act.
Perhaps on this occasion, the Irish Language Act should come from the British government. It would be both a way out of the deadlock, a fulfilment of the obligation to provide such an act as part of the St. Andrew’s Agreement of 2006, and a small yet welcome act of contrition for beating children who dared speak their national language in school.
Boris Johnson describes the EU as a teleological project of which John Stuart Mill would have disapproved. I suppose Boris has been rifling through his undergraduate lecture notes again. I got rid of mine, to make room for books.
The original series of Flash Gordon, starring Buster Keaton in the title role, is touchingly reminiscent of The Wizard of Oz. Flash Gordon needs a brain, Dale Arden needs a spine, and Dr Zarkov needs a pair of trousers.
So hard Brexiteers, and indeed hard Remainers, fear ending up in an emasculated vassal state to a more powerful, more prosperous eastern neighbour.
Welcome to Wales.
#BrexitMeansRacism: And here, Prof Tanja Bueltmann, an historian working at Northumbria University, shows us the hate mail she has received in the wake of Brexit.
14th January: The rally outside the Senedd in support of Brexit yesterday, organised by the People’s Charter with speakers from UKIP, was less than spectacular. A dozen or so people turned up.
This was the rally whose participants were specifically asked to leave their swastikas at home.
Cry, and the world cries with you. Laugh, and you laugh alone.
The National reports that a customer who complained to M&S about the lack of Scottish branding on their Scottish whisky was told, ‘You’ve had your referendum. You’re part of England now.’
Personally, I quite like having English friends. It gives me opportunities to practise my patient sighing.
There are no extrinsic rewards in short fiction. I should learn to express myself through the medium of interpretive cat videos.
It’s not that my friends don’t want to be cultured, and improve themselves. And they know that my work is of an improving nature. But the more immediate gratification comes from all-female naked rugby games, and Japanese seaweed pornography.
3rd January: Since implementing direct rule, the government of Madrid has imposed Spanish as the language of government in Barcelona, in place of Catalan, reports El Nacional.
Ayn Rand was an ambitious writer of big ideas. Regrettably, they were not good ones.
I am the author of three short story collections. Reasoning and For His Warriors, originally published by Gwasg y Bwthyn, Caernarfon, with Welsh Books Council support, now join Prayer at the End in revised editions at Cockatrice Books. My anthology of fiction, Dangerous Asylums: Stories from Denbigh Mental Hospital Told by Leading Welsh Writers, including work by Gee and David Williams, Glenda Beagan, Carys Bray, Simon Thirsk and others, was published by the North Wales Mental Health Research Project, October 2016. I am a member by election of the Welsh Academy.
I am the translator of Going South: The Stories of Richard Hughes Williams (Cockatrice, 2015), Hallowe’en in the Cwm: The Stories of Glasynys (Cockatrice, 2017), and A Book of Three Birds, the seventeenth-century classic by Morgan Llwyd (Cockatrice, 2017). In addition, I have translated fiction by D. Gwenallt Jones, Angharad Tomos, and Manon Steffan Ros.