Eddie Bone says if Wales wants to entrench its own institutions it should support the Campaign for an English Parliament
To understand the crisis unfolding between the nations of the UK we need to understand how the British state, our collective home, came into existence.
In 1536 English law was extended to completely incorporate Wales into the ‘Realm’ of England. Thereafter Welsh voters were able to elect MPs to the English Parliament. It was the ‘Realm’ and Kingdom of England incorporating Wales that established the 1707 Act of Union with the Kingdom of Scotland to form the so-called ‘United Kingdom of Great Britain’.
It was the product of these two partially fused kingdoms that passed the 1801 Act which created the union with the Kingdom of Ireland. Thus, if Scotland does become independent, legal and constitutional logic dictate that the 1801 Act will lapse, perhaps reuniting Northern Ireland with the Republic. In any case this will leave Wales incorporated into an unbalanced partnership with England.
Blair’s Westminster government tampered with the Acts of Union in 1998 and naively decided that more independence would be given to Scotland than to Wales, whilst England was not recognised nationally at all. They intended to break England into nine ‘Regional’ pieces. This rearrangement of the British state has meant that the Welsh Assembly is less robust than the Scottish Parliament and also that the English are still left without a collective voice. This places the English question firmly on the table…
The negative long-term effect of the overly prolonged and unbalanced devolutionary process has seen England forced to re-establish herself without any formative leadership, leaving the Welsh to worry about how they finance their services if English funding is reduced or, dare I say it, stopped.
If the current hotchpotch reforms continue without proper consultation (with all due respect to the McKay Commission and their limited remit), the Welsh will be vulnerable to change from England without consultation just as in 1536.
Yet the Welsh do have choices. Either they lapse back into the old Tudor arrangement or they recognise that the British state needs to be re-balanced, with a new constitutional structure that acknowledges England whilst protecting Wales. This protection is important because the Welsh have only a small voice which will struggle to be heard if left alone in a botched, rump UK/English state, under a pretend British parliament.
The Welsh must accept that their political voice will not be adequately heard against a newly formed English dominated constitutional arrangement. The Welsh must raise their voice now and insist that their calls for fairness, democratic equality and constitutional recognition are heard by Westminster before it is too late.
If Wales calls with one voice for an English Parliament, Westminster will need to listen. It will also protect the Welsh identity, as recognition of England will create the constitutional dividing wall which alone will give the opportunity to legally cement Wales’ own separate political identity.
If English and Welsh separation is not consolidated before Scottish independence then Welsh interests will be submerged.
The Campaign for English Parliament does not want to see the Welsh trapped in some ‘botched state’ as the British government continues to run around like a headless chicken after it has been beheaded by a Scottish Yes vote in 2014. There is no need to see a parochial Anglo-centric future imposed on the Welsh. Yet currently it is impossible for English interests be represented equally or indeed at all.
The English understand Welsh concerns, which mirrored English concerns when prescription charges, tuition fees and foundation hospitals were introduced. Suppression of a political voice is undemocratic and erroneous in any country. However, blaming Scotland for this constitutional crisis and for taking more money than Wales will fall on hardened ears in England.
The English and the Welsh deserve a better response than the latest proposals to come from the coalition, but first Wales must accept that they too have been part of the problem. Welsh MPs also vote on ‘English only’ matters, knowing full well that their vote has no democratic legality.
Despite this Wales differs from Scotland in its relationship with England. The Welsh border has always been more porous than Scotland’ – a good example is the tens of thousands of English and Welsh patients who share GPs on alternative sides of the border. However, contentious issues still remain between England and Wales.
Whilst difficult to discuss, Monmouthshire cannot be ignored, bearing all the markings of a contentious issue. If that wound is not dealt with correctly, both England and Wales will find it becoming a festering sore not easily healed. We need Welsh and English leadership to make sure the hand over to either side is fairly managed.
The people of England are beginning to recognise Wales as a different nation. As the Welsh Assembly grows in power we see how Wales has managed to harness their sense of national struggle and mould it into a young but audible political voice. For England this battle has only just begun. As we embark on our own struggle against the British state that fails to recognise the need for an English Parliament, the English will find this denial will make it more difficult to place the building blocks of positive national identity that could ensure equality and fair treatment for everyone.
Wales, and indeed the other devolved nations of the UK, have very different approaches to devolution than England. Celtic experiences have been influenced by the gravitational pull of their larger neighbour. Their growth and development have been about securing power away from that neighbour. England has been slow to realise this and has been blind to how much Scottish and Welsh political identity has grown.
In the past this may have been due to the intertwining of British and English identity. But this is no longer the case, as attested in the 2011 census. While the British Establishment has failed to understand the true importance of a flowering of Scottish and Welsh national identities, the average working class Englishman is increasingly willing to discuss the unfair arrangements within the UK. The majority in England are no longer satisfied with the ‘status quo’, and (perhaps inspired by independence movements of our neighbours) now speak in terms of independence for themselves. As this feeling grows, both Scotland and Wales will need to take measures to protect themselves politically.
If we can learn from our experiences with Scotland, so often shrouded in negativity and mistrust, we find that there are many advantages to a constructive working relationship between England and Wales. If a fuller, more confident Wales called for an English Parliament it would lead to an England and Wales that each have their own, distinct political voices. The British Establishment would then no longer be able to suppress our national identities for its own self-serving careerist ends.
43 thoughts on “Welsh risk entrapment in ‘botched’ state”
On the 20th Marchin an IWA article this year where I looked at devolution in Europe I described the lack of an English parliament as the “elephant in the room” and I believe that an English parliament is both neccesary and inevitable. See here: http://www.clickonwales.org/2013/03/the-anomalies-of-uk-devolution/
Isn’t the point though that it’s none of our business whether or not the English get a parliament? The principle is one of seld-determination – and just as we wouldn’t/shouldn’t stand for England telling us what the constitutional arrangements should be for Wales, it is not for the Welsh to say what should happen the other side of Offa’s Dyke. If the English want a parliament, that is for them to make the case and argue for it.
The main barrier to an English parliament (as I see it) is that it is only the parties of the right who are arguing for it, which makes it easy to caricature them as extremists/nutters. What the campaign needs is a vocal and powerful ally on the political left so it is seen as a bipartisan campaign.
The other problem, as I’ve mentioned on here in the past, is that ‘England’ is arguably too big a region to have a funcitonal devolved administration in the modern world. That’s why the Blair government argued for the seven regions – which, of course, were rejected by the public wherever they were offered a regional assembly! It might work better for England to devolve much more power to strengthened county councils – but that’s much less ‘new’ and politically sexy.
As I say though, it’s a matter for English citizens to argue and decide on these things, so I’m not sure what value there is in using Click on Wales as a forum for it!
Monmouthshire used to be an anomaly but it is not a contentious issue, or a sore. There is no issue here – it is just a publicity grabbing gimmick by EDP with almost zero support amongst the local population. The geographical area was originally the Welsh kingdom of Gwent and was then designated as one of the Welsh Marcher counties by the statute of Rhuddlan in 1282 – same as Glamorgan and others. The 1536 act then indisputably placed Monmouthshire as one of the 13 counties of Wales. No doubt or confusion there. The anomaly only came about in the 1542 act where Monmouthshire was placed in a legal circuit with two neighbouring English counties. This caused legal confusion over the years until 1974 when the anomaly was removed. This caused no problem in Monmouthshire as it just confirmed the reality. Monmouthshire is, always has been and always will be firmly in Wales.
Frank: I always thought England was a nation, not a region. I agree, however, that it is for English people in England to decide on their constitutional future. Though, as a Welsh nationalist who supports Scottish independence, I see no problem with supporting our neighbours to the east, should they desire national self-determination.
It’s hard to tell which of the divide and rule merchants are driven by anti-British sentiment and which just see the potential for more useless snouts in the trough…
Either way they are turning the UK into a zombie state which is so over-regulated and micro-managed by people who largely have no understanding of the concept that public funding first has to be earned by the private sector before it can be spent by the public sector that the UK is in grave danger of economic collapse.
A 5th parasitic legislature and executive is the last thing the UK needs but it is painfully obvious that neither of these groups actually cares…
“Whilst difficult to discuss, Monmouthshire cannot be ignored, bearing all the markings of a contentious issue. If that wound is not dealt with correctly, both England and Wales will find it becoming a festering sore not easily healed. We need Welsh and English leadership to make sure the hand over to either side is fairly managed.”
I’m not sure Eddie Bone will find much sympathy with this contention. Monmouthshire, a ‘festering sore’? It’s probably fair to say the settled will of the people of Monmouthshire is to remain in Wales.
@Mike Hedges- shame you and your party aren’t so loud about a Welsh Parliament for your own people. Why don’t we start calling for a Welsh Parliament now, rather than the an assembly with 60 seats, instead of concerning ourselves with England?
Yes, I understand what you mean when you talk about England, Scotland and Wales. But I don’t understand when you talk in terms of English or the English, Scottish or the Scots, Welsh or the Welsh, context notwithstanding. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this regard.
Perhaps you could define with forensic clarity to ensure a better understanding of your article.
Monmouthshire is not a contentious issue. Look at the Census returns on national identity in Wales – there are other counties in Wales with a greater sense of Englishness than Monmouthshire.
It’s only a wound to people like Robin Tilbrook and Steve Uncles who’ve wasted the resources of their daft party standing candidates there.
Decent English nationalists need to drop the Monmouthshire thing because it’s extremely embarrassing and counter productive and only serves to associate them with the English Democrats.
The author makes some pertinent points about the balance of power in a Scotland-less UK but it should be pointed out that the 1536-43 legislation referred to has been repealed, as has the 1746 Wales and Berwick-on-Tweed Act, in respect of Wales. Wales is statutorily distinct from England and will not revert to the status quo ante 1707. Equally, I don’t believe the 1801 Act of Union can merely lapse; surely the process for any Irish reunification will be determined by the Good Friday Agreement?
Frank Cooper queries why this article has appeared on Click on Wales. I would have thought that’s obvious – English nationalists want the Welsh to do some heavy lifting for them!
“…..(Scottish Independence) will leave Wales incorporated into an unbalanced partnership with England.”
Scotland and Wales are in an unbalanced partnership with England right now. That’s why independence for Scotland is so attractive and is becoming appealing to more and more Scots. Since the beginning of the year polls are consistently showing the gap between Yes and No narrowing. The last 3 polls have shown just a 2% swing is required for a Yes vote. Between 15 and 30% of Scots are undecided. This is with the entire Scottish and British media waging war on the independence movement. They don’t even pretend to be impartial or objective anymore. The negativity, distortions and constant talking down of Scotland by the unionists and unionist media are having the opposite intended affect and are actually switching more and more Scots on to the possibilities that could come with a Yes vote. If Scotland votes for independence, which I think it will, Wales will continue to be in a massively unbalanced union – except if your independence movement starts gaining momentum you will be subjected to the massive, engulfing unionist wave of smears, fears, distortions and lies that Scotland has been subjected to for the last 4 decades. If the Welsh people are conned into believing them the nation could have big problems. At the very least the Welsh Parliament needs significant powers to protect it from the path that Westminster are taking. But then you have the problem of saying – why should some powers be devolved and not others? Where should the ambitions of a nation be fixed?
I do not think the people of Wales should worry about being locked into a botched state. I had not heard of the McKay Report before, but having now read it, I am not surprised its publication was kept low key. Embarrassment I suppose. Who says politicians do not have some deeply embedded sense of right and wrong that bubbles up to the surface now and again? It looks as if we – England and Wales – will both be in a botched state. The underlying truth behind the measures recommended and rejected in this report is “let’s have a bit of window dressing here” to cover up “business as usual” approach. As the issue is discussed in terms of development, the idea that the devolving authority – Parliament, might give up all participation in UK level legislation does not appear here. Our cousins in Australia, Canada, and the USA have no trouble with a federal structure. Floating perceived problems are always a useful way of burying something. “Oooh that’s not going to work”. Are we too stupid in Britain to be able to devise a federal structure? Yes of course there are internal cross border issues. So what? If we are too dim to work out how to deal with them, send some MPs to Washington at great expense to see how they do it. Or elect better MPs.
I’m reluctant to comment on an article which reveals such a poor grasp of history. Penddu has explained the position of Gwent/Monmouthshire clearly. Democracy didn’t rear it’s head until after 1832, not 1536. (Merionethshire was so poor in 1836 that it could only afford to send one (unelected) representative to Westminster)
As far as I’m concerned England already has a Parliament at Westminster. In the Commons it has an 82% majority over Wales, Scotland and NI combined. Taking the Parliament as a whole, including the 800+ Lords, Wales has approximately 2.75% and Scotland 4% representation. Moreover, Westminster is sovereign. It has all the powers at its disposal, including taxation, welfare, broadcasting, security, defence & foreign policy. In comparison the Scottish Parliament is weak, having effectively no taxation powers. The Welsh Assembly looks pathetically weak, it can’t borrow a penny, or pass laws without the likelihood of them being referred to the Supreme Court.
Even worse for Wales is the fact that funding is based on a formula dependent on spending in England, which is subject to misuse so that large budget projects in England, such as HS2 or Crossrail, don’t result in proportional sums, or consequentials, being awarded to Scotland and Wales. Neither does the formula refer to the differing needs of the devolved administrations, such as the NHS in Wales, where the population is older and ill-health is a bigger problem. Barnett & its consequentials make it virtually impossible to distinguish purely devolved funding. Spending in England has indirect effects in Wales & Scotland. Cuts to the NHS in England, for example, will result in cuts to the three devolved funding budgets. The author’s view is simplistic to say the least.
Wales receives its budget from the UK Treasury, not from an ‘England treasury’. Londoners could argue that, for example, Tyneside gets its funding from London, which arguably generates much of the UK Treasury’s income.
I’m all in favour of an exclusively English parliament, but it isn’t going to happen in a federal sense. It would mean a monumental constitutional upheaval, including the end of parliamentary sovereignty. That is anathema to the three unionist parties, especially the Tories and Labour. It would spell the end of their gravy train ~ guaranteed alternate spells in government with few constraints & many privileges.
What I see is a British state in economic and political decline. The Scottish referendum is a symptom that it isn’t working for large parts of this island. I think Britain’s demise is a certainty, the only issue is the timing. I hope the Scots have the good sense to vote YES in 2014, taking the opportunity to start afresh, building a fairer, more equitable, just, prosperous and democratic country. If they don’t, it will happen within a decade in anyway.
As for poor old Wales, we will have to wait on events. Dogged loyalty to Labour at the ballot box for a century has resulted in a descent into dependency and increasing poverty, with Wales subjected to alternate long periods of unsympathetic government by both parties from London. Labour is a party with no drive, vision, or ambition for Wales, simply content to plod on, letting us suffer under successive Tory or Tory-led coalitions, and promising to continue with their austerity should they get into power.
We will have to see what Lieutenant Carwyn and his platoon in the Assembly decide to do when the Scots leave, as the prospect of a Labour PM vanishes, and perpetual Tory rule becomes a reality. Will there be calls for an English parliament then? I doubt it, as a few MPs from Wales won’t make much of a difference. We will have to put up with it, or suffer the economic cost of going on our own, which might be the only realistic option.
Who was it said, ‘Well, here’s another nice mess you’ve gotten me into?’ Thank you, Labour. I don’t think you’re going to be able to get us out of it either.
Let me remind you of the undemocratic process of Parliament by a hand full of MPs late at night in 1972 When a certain sneeky George Thomas and Neil Kinnock contrived , and removed Monmouthshire from England without any consultation or a democratic Vote by the people.
The original agreement of the Tudor realm in 1586 some 500 odd years ago was carried out in the same way but by the Welsh, representating Monmouthshire.
If you want to bury your head in the sand so be it, yet still many in Monmouthshire ( mostly keep their heads down) consider themselves English , or if not English certainly not Welsh.
Let me also inform you a group from Monmouth meet from time to time in England to discuss a reversal of the 1972 “hotch potch”.
What on earth has Monmouth got to do with the reqquirement of an English Parliament, I would ask the Welsh how they would feel about an Englishman proposing to do anyway with Wales and replace it with seven region? That’s exactly what John Prescott and Lord Falconer were trying to do in England.
As to England being too big, would you say the same about California and the other US States? no of course not!
“If the English want a parliament, that is for them to make the case and argue for it”: true in theory, but in practice the British government will not listen to the arguments for an English Parliament and it is unlikely that the English will ever be offered a referendum on having their own Parliament. It is more likely that they might offered a vote of some kind of arrangement at Westminster, as suggested by the McKay Commission. This would be a bit like the referendum on the EU that Mr Cameron has promised for 2017. It would be ‘ Yes or no’ to some kind of fudge that avoids putting a simple question. All the indications are that the English would vote 60%-70% in favour of an arrangement at Westminster that would exclude Welsh and Scottish MPs from voting on English domestic legislation. It is for the Welsh to decide whether or not this solution would be better or worse for them.
The situation of devolution is so bad, that one could easily think it was designed to destroy the Union. Since there a four segments to the UK all Four must have equal assemblies and representation, it’s a no brainer.
Wessexman – Monmouthshire was not removed from England in 1972 – it was never part of it.
EDP tried to stand on this issue at the WA elections in 2011 and achieved less than 1%. A party campaigning for Klingon independence would probably have won more votes…
You obviously have no idea how the vast majority of the people from Gwent/Monmouthshire feel about their National affinity. As stated by Gareth Young if you want the legitimate aim of a full English parliament to be taken seriously you really do need to ditch the paranoia. I doubt that more than 3% of the population of the historic Gwent/Monmouthshire would vote to become English. Your constant harping about this matter which most level headed English people don’t give a second thought about merely alienates you from Welsh patriots who would be happy to support you.
The people in this part of the British Isles are Welsh and have no desire to be anything else. Accept that and put your efforts towards the development of a strong English parliament.
With all respect to Wessexman, Wessex is a country which never existed, The name was made up in the latter half of the nineteen the century by William Barnes and popularised by Thomas Hardy Since when archaeologists and historians started using it, although Barry Cunliffe has said that Wessex means whatever one wants it to mean. A Wessexman is as mythical a creature as a Celt. The Celts of the British isles were invented by Edward Lhuyd . (Dr Simon James = “The Myth of the Atlantic Celts).
As for Monmouthshire, it is not an issue, except for the leader of the English Democrats, who has a bee in his bonnet about it, which has distracted his party from properly addressing the English Question.
Look, it’s very simple.
The time for a serious discussion from the Welsh perspective on the ‘English question’ is when either the ‘Campaign for an English Parliament’ or ‘English Democrats’ gets an MP elected, or whatever party may be promoting the ‘English question’ at the time.
The ball is in your court, Mr & Mrs/Ms Sais.
@wessexman- Gwent is in Wales, it always has been considered Wales and through historical accident, as explained above by Penddu, some English people in the east of Monmouthshire came to believe Monmouthsire was in England due to it being included in an English court circuit administered in London (in fact there is absolutely no history at all in Blaenau Gwent of Gwent being considered in England). Chester was included in the North Wales Circuit, nobody is bigoted enough to claim Chester for Wales. Why this was done I’m not entirely sure, but it certainly wasn’t because the author of the act believed Sir Fynwy/ Gwent to be in England. Even the three names for the county, Mynwy, Gwent and Monmouth, are Welsh in origin. In fact, most of the people whom this court circuit would have presided over in the county would have been monoglot Welsh until the 1850s, especially in the West of the county.
Now that that is out of the way, let me clarify where exactly you believe Monmouthshire to be. When Monmouthshire was rightly considered to be part of Wales by statute, it included the new counties (created in 1996) of Blaenau Gwent, Torfaen, Caerphilly (as Rhymni was was once in Gwent but lost to Caerphilly) and also (confusingly) Monmouthsire which includes the long Anglicized east of the county (since the early modern period, before which there was no doubt it was Welsh in custom and language), not forgetting also Newport. If the Old Monmouthsire, namely Gwent, is what you believe should be ‘returned’, are you seriously suggesting that the above named Welsh counties should be incorporated into England? Do you honestly believe that Blaenau Gwent, Torfaen, The Rhymni valleys and also Newport would actually want to be English? You need to travel more, ‘breuddwyd gwrach’ or pipe dream is what one would call that. If so, I find it totally abhorrent.
If you are referring to the east of Monmouthsire however, that became a new local authority in 1996 under the same name, then you need to be more specific to make it explicit. Having been to the LA several times, Abergavenny, Cwmbran and so on, I don’t think there’s any danger of imperial and bigoted English nationalism stealing the county in all reality.
If one looks at election results and the result of the two devolution referendums, it’s pretty clear what people think of this crackpot idea that Gwent should be ‘returned’ (stolen would be the correct term) to England. The major party is Labour, with left-wing politics having a massive history. Blaenau Gwent voted twice for devolution in 1997 and 2011, as did Caerphilly, with Blaenau Gwent voting 65% plus for law making powers in 2011, along with Gwynedd and Carmarthanshire. Torfaen changed its mind in 2011, as did Newport in 2011. Monmouthshire voted No in 1997, and the Yes voted in 2011 was defeated by the tiniest of margins and there had to be a recount. The may well be apathy or anti-devoutionists there, but there’s hardly a dearth of pro-devolutionists either. What does all this tell us? That, through supporting home rule, it’s evident that the people of Gwent consider themselves in Wales and are happy with that. In fact I really can’t believe how preposterous the whole idea is.
How much of Wales was taken and given to England when Wales was shired in the 16th century? Now that is a more important question.
We must of course have a Parliament for England,indeed what we need is a resumption of the one carelessly abandoned in 1707.This new Parliament will sit in Westminster consist of MPs for English seats only, no need for any from the devolved lands.
There will of course be a need for a federal assembly drawn from the four existing parliaments,meeting ad hoc for international,coastal and defence matters etc.
As has already been mentioned,such set-ups already exist in the USA,Australia, Canada and Germany without too much pain so why should we not have the same?
All I can say is, it took us a hundred years of campaigning to get a parliament. Don’t hold your breath.
Henry Wilson says:
Frank: I always thought England was a nation, not a region. I agree, however, that it is for English people in England to decide on their constitutional future.
When have we the English ever been asked what we want by the UK government?
As a nation NEVER!
Wessexman and others under the illusion that Monmouth was ever in England. Err – it has never been in England.
If the campaign for more English democracy wants to be taken seriously, then it needs to drop quickly the illusion about Monmouthshire. I was not aware of Wales trying a land grab on England.
Also, I have yet to see a response to the problem of an English Parliament without some form of regionalisation, being just another Westminster. Until this is resolved, I am not sure why the North of England would support the concept. I am enjoying this debate though, apart that is from the rather depressing response from Mr Walker.
Ben is obviously not a Welsh speaker- Senedd means parliament in Welsh
@Mike- mi ydw i’n siarad, darllen ac ysgrifennu Cymraeg yn rhugl, dw i hefyd yn gwneud gradd israddedig yn yr iaith ym Mhrifysgol Caerdydd
For the benefit of actual non-Welsh speakers however, I’ll write the rest in ‘yr iaith fain’. It is customary to call the parliaments of countries by something in that country’s native language, hence, as you say, senedd. Senedd actually comes from Latin according to Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru and derives from the Latin ‘senate’. My point however was its name in English. It’s called an assembly and has fewer powers than any parliament I know of elsewhere in the world and neither is it sovereign.
Taking Wessexman’s position to its logiacal conclusion, Chester would have to be handed over to Wales (about as popular as Gwent going to England) and then there is the vexed question of which parts of Salop and Herefordshire go where. Of course, parts of Saxony and Normandy have their historic claims on parts of England, and so on, and so on and so on. If this keeps people happy, so be it, but otherwise, the real world moves on.
While I understand the desire of campaigners for an English Parliament to gain as wide a support as possible for their cause, I agree with those above who say that it is not for us to interfere in English domestic affairs. Only yesterday, we had the news that the Attorney General is going to refer an Act passed by the Welsh Assembly to the Supreme Court in London for a second time. While there may be a legal basis for doing this, it demonstrates how uncomfortable Westminster still is with decisions by a Welsh Government that it disapproves of. This position is constitutionally unsustainable and there needs to be a redrawing of the devolution arrangements so that the Assembly has the necessary legal freedoms to enact the legislation that it votes for.
(On a separate point, the Assembly may want to consider having jurisdiction over employment law. A great deal of the energy behind the Eurosceptic campaign for a referendum is their hostility to European employment legislation that protects the rights of workers.)
However it would be hypocritical of me to protest against this intervention and yet feel I have the right to tell the people of England how they should govern themselves. I respect the right of those who wish to do so but it introduces double standards into a situation that is already sufficiently complex.
David Lloyd Owen 12.27
Tripartite Indenture an’ all that… or as Emrys ap Iwan put it in the 1890s, “Cymru hyd at yr Hafren”!
Any talk of irredentism from either side in the year 2013, after everything that we’ve been though in the last 100 years, is either intellectually feeble or rather sinister (take your pick), and anyone even remotely suggesting it should be slapped down immediately by real democrats. A geopolitical entity as well established as Wales, or England, or Scotland, will progress on a journey of self-determination with the consent of a majority of all its people or it will be prevented from doing so by a majority of all its people. It works both ways… and in recent history has prevented ‘separation’ in both degree and timing, and indeed will do in the future (no doubt to the frustration of home rulers).
Put another way, the boundaries and collective will of Wales as constituted in 1979 were good enough (and therefore ‘legal’ enough) to prevent devolution, so on what legal or moral grounds can one claim they are not valid for approving it or deepening it? All that has happened in effect is that the minority interest has exchanged places. But all states and all geopolitical entities have majority and minority interests. It is the defining role of a democratic state to manage those minority interests sensitively.
Undo or undermine this crucial principle English Democrats and the heavens and the skies will fall upon you, not just vis-à-vis Wales but your own back yard… ‘Forgive them for they know not what they do’. However, committing a sin in ignorance is still committing a sin. Read your history of Ireland, for your own sakes, please.
For those interested in such things, the remains of Offa’s Dyke run on the Eastern bank of the River Wye in South East Wales, and one quick glance at the toponomy of Monmouthshire and indeed Ergyng in modern-day Herefordshire gives a pretty quick conformation of the historic boundaries of the Cymry in South Wales (though interestingly historians speculate that Ergyng may have been some sort of buffer state between Saxon and Welsh kingdoms in the early middle ages, ethnically and linguistically Welsh but under the vassalage of Mercia). Also fascinating is the fact that the Welsh speaking population of the diocese of Hereford was so great in the 16th century that the Bishop of Hereford was obliged by law, along with the Welsh bishops, to provide for the translation of the Bible into Welsh.
A fascinating part of the world, and really rather beautiful.
A sow’s ear can be called a silk purse. It might be called ‘Y Senedd’, but it is far from a proper legislature.
As such, it is a Labour creation. It has spawned Labour-led administrations since its birth. During that period Wales has continued in a remorseless decline towards penury and poorer public services, overtaken by independent states like Slovakia, and no doubt by Romania & Bulgaria in due course, as much of Wales is on a par with them already. There is no prospect whatsoever of things getting better without significant change.
True, Y Senedd is more than Wales has had since the ill-fated Parliament of Owain Glyndwr over five centuries ago, but I don’t think that even you would accept that it’s up to the task of turning Wales around. Mr. Shipton rightly described it as ‘The Poor Man’s Parliament’.
I don’t care which party or coalition of parties gets down to making Wales a better place to live in, but it needs to happen soon. We can’t carry on like this. We are badly let down by our elected representatives in the Bay and at Westminster.
This week’s poll commissioned by Silk revealed a desire for far greater devolution of powers to the Senedd. It’s up to you, and your 59 colleagues, in Cardiff to get on the job and ensure that those powers are delivered ~ and soon. We’ve had thirteen years of drift. The patience of the electorate is wearing thin with 27% believing you’re making a pig’s ear of running the NHS. If a significant majority of AMs vote for more powers in September, then they will surely come.
Why is Anglesey so named. Angles ?
As regards Monmouthshire, and the cencus poll , not many call themselves Welsh, how do you explain that penddu.
I see no-one has commented on Isenstans, point of view.
lost for words are we LOL.
Owain Glyn Dwr made the very sensible decision to set up his parliament/senydd in Macynlleth, central to Wales not in a jumped up coaling station practically in England.
The involvement with Monmouthshire and standing candidates in Wales makes the English Democrats look decidedly strange. The leadership’s obsession with Monmouthshire is an albatross hung around the English Democrats’ (the foremost nationalist party in England) necks which has been a major obstacle to the party making advances.
Dave can I refer you to the two articles on devolution I have had published on the IWA site on 16th January and 20th March and also to the debate I raised in the National Assembly on reserve powers.
My comments weren’t aimed at you personally, as I know that you’re more devolution-minded than many of your party colleagues.
However, it is Labour, as the largest and governing party, which has to take the lead here, and it isn’t happening. The first move has to be reserved powers, as a matter of urgency, so that there is clarity as to where responsibility lies. If Labour is so-minded, then there would be a large majority in favour. The Welsh government has a duty to the people of Wales to sort it out now. It doesn’t have to wait for Silk to report, as it has a mandate to govern Wales efficiently.
Anglesey is the Norse name for Ynys Môn and has a meaning something similar to “Hook Island”. Etymologically it has no connection to the Angles of Dark Age England at all.
The Norse had their own names for many places where they traded, raided, (sometimes) settled, or were just important landmarks of navigation as they criss-crossed the seas around Wales, Ireland, Scotland and Northern England. This is not surprising. All peoples and languages develop names for foreign places that they visit or navigate by. However, at no time in Welsh history was the island, or any other place in Wales now known by a Norse name (e.g. Swansea), known as such in Wales by the inhabitants of those places.
[It should be remembered that Norse settlement in Wales in the Dark Ages was extremely patchy and limited to coastal trading posts, and then intermittently. In that respect it was much more like southern England than say County Wexford in Ireland, Shetland or Danelaw in Northern England. English settlement in Wales before 1066 was even less frequent, the ethnic and linguistic boundary remaining more or less constant around Offa’s Dyke for over 5 centuries.]
English use in England of Norse names for places in Wales, Ireland and Scotland seems to begin in the early medieval period, probably as a sort of lingua franca for navigation and origination of goods traded from those places: that is, the English didn’t necessarily go to those places or even know where they were and so adopted the Norse tradesman’s name for them (Copper from ‘Anglesey’ or the ‘Great Orme’). And so, even before the invasions of Wales by the Normans in the 12th and 13th centuries and the subsequent colonization of some parts of Wales, it is likely that many parts of Wales, on the coast, trading places for Norseman or points of navigational reference, were known by Norse words in English in England.
When administrative colonization of Wales occurred in the 12th century (the Marches) and 13th century (the Principality), the Normans used the now age-old Anglo-Norse terms where they existed to refer to their new possessions. At no point up to then had the name been used in Wales itself.
In the seven centuries following colonization those Anglo-Norse terms were only ever used by English overlords, administrators, officials of the state, etc. or by those Anglicised Welsh that adopted the English language (a tiny minority until the middle of the 19th century). The Welsh-speaking people of those places, and Welshmen throughout Wales, referred to them by their Welsh names probably pre-dating the Norse equivalent by 700-800 years (Môn, Abertawe, etc.).
It was only with the rapid Anglicisation of Wales between about 1850 and 1950 that those names gained majority status in Wales rather than minority (administrative) status, and of course, is limited to this day to the English language.
‘Monmouth’, of course, is a different story and involves the gradual Anglicisation of a Welsh name where those two languages came into contact along the ethnic and linguistic divide. Mynyw was, of course, and still is the Welsh original. It is, however, a fascinating story for both Welsh and English speakers and I would encourage all to read up on it.
‘Wallasey’ is another fascinating one, being a Saxon name for the top end of the Wirral, but meaning ‘Island of Welshmen’…
Thanks, I enjoyed reading that, fascinating.
Phil all very interesting, can I suggest folk read the latest up to date findings on the “English” as found by Oxford University Professors Stephen Oppenhiemer and Bryan Sage.Scientific investigations along with DNA recover from ancient archeology sites,drilling of bones etc.Oppenhiemer quoting English origines were here first. ” Origins of the British” and “Blood Isles”.
These scandinavian tribes moving to upper virgin ground from “Jutland and Doggerland “to avoid the rising waters from the melting Ice Age which created The North Sea and The English channel.
Etymologically, ‘Angle” is the same in English and Norse. How does Phil Davies, if he returns to this topic, explain ‘Dyganwy’/Dec-Anglii?
I am not an etymologist so all I can do is cite the work of etymologists. Hywel Wyn Owen explains Degannwy (is that what you mean with ‘Dyganwy’) by its relation to the ‘Decantae’ tribe with the earliest Latin reference being to ‘Arx Decantorum’. And so in that example it seems an early Brythonic origin is most likely. If you have a different source for the origins of Anglesey, by all means let me know. It doesn’t change, I think, the basic narrative of the Island’s history as described above.
If you’re looking for evidence of Anglo-Saxon place names in Wales, there are many. Obviously most prominent along the border. Political boundaries (and more importantly in the context of the Dark Ages and medieval period – feudal domains) rarely observed a strict ethnic or linguistic division. It was perfectly possible for an ‘English’ overlord to have authority in linguistically Welsh areas and vice-versa. Nations and borders are very much a modern concept.
There are some fascinating examples of Saxon place names in North East Wales that have been fossilised in Welsh. ‘Prestatyn’ is one, as is ‘Mostyn’ and ‘Sychdyn’. The original hamlets were probably Saxon settlements, established and ‘peopled’ at the height of Mercia’s expanse into Wales in the 8th century, the extent of which can be broadly aligned with Offa’s Dyke. They probably sat alongside established ‘Welsh’ settlements, enjoying patronage from their Saxon lords in a sort of semi-native, semi-colonial arrangement.
Welsh overlordship returned to North East Wales in the 9th and 10th centuries as Mercia (and the rest of England) turned to the East to defend its positions against the Danes. It is impossible to know whether the Saxon commonfolk ‘left’ as well (it seems highly unlikely) but rather just accepted, and toiled under, new overlords. Notwithstanding, the dominant language of the area turned once more to Welsh and previously Saxon names like Prestatyn (which is from the same root as Preston) were cymricised over a number of centuries and thence fossilised in linguistic terms (captured in writing at a given point in its development).
The Norman invasion of 1066 brought English incursions again into NE Wales, but again English distractions in the civil wars of the 12th century enabled the princes of Gwynedd and Powys to wrestle much of that territory back. It was only with the defeat of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd in 1282 that NE Wales was definitively transferred to Anglo-Norman overlordship and thence a more sustained process of Anglicisation of place names (e.g. Mold from Norman French Mont Hault, Flint from the English deriving from the castle built in 1277, Montgomery, etc.).
The area corresponding to borderland Flintshire is a fascinating patchwork of Welsh, Anglicised Welsh, Norman French, Saxon and Cymricised Saxon place names. These do not observe a neat and tidy division line since ancient Welsh names exist almost up to the gates of Chester and cymricised Saxon names deep into rural Wales. But this was the true history of the border areas, Welsh/English political (or feudal) authority waxing and waning East and West at different times and movements of people under the sponsorship of overlords (the extent of which is impossible to know but must have been sufficient for the establishment of ‘named’ settlements).
Linguistically this is the story of the borderlands from the river Dee in the North to the Wye in the South. It is a rich one and one that should be celebrated.
Mr Salveson is quoted in his recent article published in the “Click-on-Wales On-line magazine” as saying:
An ‘English Parliament’ is not the answer to the North’s problems. It would only reflect and consolidate existing inequalities and potentially breed an ugly English nationalism.
Why is it that Nationalism as exhibited by Celts is all right but English nationalism is categorised as “ugly”?
Welsh nationalists burned over 200 homes in Wales because their owners were English: the Irish Nationalists murdered people in Birmingham, London and other English cities, and since there are far too many instances of anti-English racism by Scots to recount here, I would just bring to readers attention the song Scots are prone to sing in pubs and bars, “Stamp your feet if you hate the English”.
Mr. Paul Salveson’s remark about “ugly English nationalism” is a racist slur on English people prompted by English self loathing, and he should apologise for it, and withdraw it.
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