Warburton’s Welshness and the national game

As Wales meets England at Twickenham today John Winterson Richards reflects on competing visions of identity

It is a safe bet that Jonathan Edwards, the Honourable Member for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, is not exactly the most popular man in his own party at the moment. The more thoughtful members of Plaid Cymru have been striving for years to build it into a true ‘Party of Wales’ – all of Wales – and to get rid of its image as a refuge for Welsh language monomaniacs.

They look north to Scotland, to the SNP of Alex Salmond with its majority at Holyrood, and they know it can be done. Then along comes Mr Edwards with his ill-considered ‘tweet’:

“I really find it difficult to understand how someone does not consider themselves to be Welsh can be captain of the national rugby side.”

Mr Edwards is perfectly within his rights to criticise a rugby player. Most of us do it all the time. Yet it was a huge mistake to pick on the current captain, Sam Warburton, a highly respected player and an excellent ambassador for Wales off the pitch. His gentlemanly acceptance of a grossly disproportionate red card in the World Cup won him admirers all over the world and made us all proud to be Welsh.

This is not good enough for Mr Edwards. The fact that Mr Warburton has English parents and describes himself as British is apparently enough to exclude him from being Welsh in Mr Edwards’ eyes.

Plaid strategists will be appalled by this. They can read the statistics. A very large number of people now living in Wales were born outside Wales, or have one or more non-Welsh parents, or are descended from people in those categories. These people have votes. Many have often wondered if Plaid secretly believes in a narrow definition of ‘Welshness’ that somehow excludes them. Mr Edwards’ words will fuel those fears.

However, Mr Edwards has at least given us the opportunity to ask a broader question: what does it mean to be Welsh? More specifically, what unites us as Welsh people and what differentiates us from other people?

Definitions of nationality based on race are now very unfashionable, but, to be honest, they were always pretty dodgy. Waves of invaders and economic immigration have left us as much a ‘mongrel nation’ as the English. This is, incidentally, true of most nations.

Nor can we really boast a common culture, at least not one that is radically different from the Anglo-American culture that dominates much of the developed world. There is, of course, a separate Welsh-language culture, but the key word here is ‘separate’ – it means absolutely nothing to 80 per cent of the population of Wales. There is no equivalent Anglo-Welsh culture among the English-speaking majority of Welsh people that compares with the Anglo-Scots and Anglo-Irish traditions that have made such a huge impact on world literature. There are regional or sub-regional cultures, like that of the south Wales Valleys – Max Boyce, Gren, rugby, eand so on – but they mean very little in other parts of Wales. They are no more a national culture than the regional cultures of Yorkshire or Devon.

The language itself cannot be quoted as a defining feature of Welshness, since it is spoken, even on a part-time basis, by less than a fifth of Welsh people. It is certainly distinctive, but, judging by the fierce comments on both sides whenever the subject is raised on this website, it divides far more than it unites.

Wales undoubtedly exists as a geographical entity, but it i an artificial one. An economic geographer designing local government regions purely from the point of view of practicality would be unlikely to unite north and south Wales in the same entity. The current borders of Wales were drawn by the English Parliament entirely on the basis of historic political factors.

Wales existed as a united country under a Welsh ruler only very briefly, under Gruffydd ap Llewelyn for about six years in the 11th Century. Otherwise, Wales seems to have existed for most of its history only as an idea or an ideal.

All that having been said, this particular Welsh-born son of a Welsh-born, Welsh-speaking father, and an English-born, English-speaking Welsh mother – her parents were in the Midlands, like many Welsh people, because that was where the work was – is proud to call himself Welsh.

In the end, it is perhaps a mistake to try to define ‘Welshness’ – like Gordon Brown’s clumsy attempt to define ‘Britishness’. It is either something you feel or you do not. There is no point those who feel it trying to impose it on those who lack that feeling.

From this it also follows that it is a mistake to try to give ‘Welshness’ a political significance it is too nebulous to sustain.

In particular, people need not be forced to choose between being Welsh and being British. Most of us have no problem combining both. There is no contradiction between cheering when the Welsh snatched the Six Nations from the English last year, and cheering when the Scot Andy Murray won Wimbledon, when the Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy won the US Open, and the Englishman Bradley Wiggins won the Tour de France – or taking satisfaction in the above-their-weight performance of the combined British team in the Olympics and Paralympics.

Nor is there a contradiction between believing passionately that Wales is the most beautiful part of the United Kingdom and also loving the different beauties of England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and our offshore islands. A pride in the history of Wales, and of one’s own ancestors, does not prohibit a similar pride in being able to call oneself a compatriot of Churchill, Shakespeare, Constable, Wordsworth, Nelson, Conan Doyle, Faraday, Smith, Marlborough, Locke, Newton, Mill, Lister, Buchan, Turner, Austen, Boyle, Drake, Boulton and Watt, and the rest of the greatest gallery of worthies that any nation can boast.

Nor should patriotism be considered dependant on support for a particular political agenda or constitutional arrangement. The point is coming very clearly out of the Scottish referendum debate that a unionist is just as much a patriotic Scot as a nationalist. The same is true in Wales.

If some feel that their own Welshness requires having a nation-state to express it, then that is their feeling and it must be respected as such. But those of us who feel so confident in our Welsh identity that we feel no need for a nation-state to express it are surely entitled to demand the same respect for our feelings in return. After all, the Welsh nation existed for centuries without separate political organisations and was, if anything, closer then to having a distinctive unifying culture than it is now.

Finally, let us agree that there is no place for racism in these debates, even the ‘mild’ anti-English strain. Let us even admit that many of us are privately rather fond of England and the English – but we trust that will not prevent Sam and the boys crushing them mercilessly into the mud of Twickenham today. Cymru am byth!

John Winterson Richards is the author of The Xenophobes Guide to the Welsh.

45 thoughts on “Warburton’s Welshness and the national game

  1. Interesting piece. But it carefully avoids one thing. The Welsh have just got to get used to the the English, the Scots, the Irish and a whole load of other nationalities living in and enjoying Wales, whilst at the same time taking great pride in their own national identities, national identities that are anything other and oft regarded as hostile to ‘Welsh’.

    Unfortunately this issue doesn’t sit well alongside the concept of ‘new’ nation building that is, at the moment, taught so eagerly in the schools throughout Wales.

  2. According to the IRB and WRU rules Mr Warburton is Welsh and entitled to play for Wales.
    Perhaps playing for the British (and Irish Lions) has made him feel British. Since the advent of the Six Nations is not time for French and Italian players to have a chance to play for the European Lions and wack the southern hemisphere?

  3. Surely the whole point here is that Sam and Jonathan are using British to mean different things – one more social, the other more political.

    Britain (or Great Britain) the island and its various aspects such as its people, culture(s) and languages, is not the same as the usage of Britain as a short name for the political unit “The United Kindom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland”.
    There is a great overlap between the two meanings but they should not be confused.

    If the United Kingdom stopped tomorrow then the people of the island of Britain would remain British. I have heard the ludicrous statement that the Scots will ‘leave Britain’ if they vote for independence; they remain British and part of Britain, they would be leaving the UK.
    It is not incompatible to be British and Welsh, or to be British and want the United Kingdom to end. It does need people to be clear about how they are using the word British and to think about how others are using it.

    I am sorry if the lines above seem blindingly obvious to the erudite readers of this website but it is both sad and astonishing how many (often well educated) people in Britain are unaware of what ‘British’ can mean and/or use the term very loosely, causing confusion. I live in London and most people I speak to here treat the separate meanings as one and the same.
    As long as we continue to use words like ‘British’, (or ‘nation’ and ‘nationalist’ for that matter) without being clear about their meaning it will always cause confusion and limit proper debate.

  4. Could the IWA commission proper writers; nuanced, informative and interesting? One only needs to go as far as the end of the first paragraph to see this is drivel: in what sense does this matter connect with language? In no way what soever.

  5. The language “means absolutely nothing to 80 per cent of the population of Wales”.
    What arrogant nonsense. There are hundreds of thousands on English speaking Welsh people who care passionately about the language.

  6. This incident does raise an important question as to nationalist attitudes to those of other cultures who are equally Welsh citizens and on what imagined sociological profile those attitudes are based. I have seen at work and experienced myself the view that all are equally Welsh but some are more Welsh than others. As I once read in someone’s writings which thankfully were never published, Wales has two cultures, an internal culture and an external culture. It’s difficult to imagine a better definition of xenophobia.

    It’s also over-simplistic and provides the ideological justification for cultural bigotry. If there are two cultural themes at work, it seems to me to that they centre on the monoculturalism of Cymreictod and the multiculturalism of Britishness. Cultural unity, some might call it uniformity, seems to be the aim of Cymreictod as exemplified by the ‘national’ eisteddfod. Cultural diversity is the reality in my adopted home city of Cardiff and is the cultural policy of the main cultural institution of Wales, namely the BBC. It is also interesting that other cultures are acknowledged in Wales as being welcomed under the international rather than the national banner of the Eisteddfod, whereas multiculturalism recognises that cultural diversity is an integral part of domestic Welsh culture, not an add-on. And Plaid’s position is not helped by the recent statement by its leader that UKIP’s politics has no place in our country. Well, if we believe that the voter is sovereign in a democracy, then UKIP politics does have a place if there are Welsh voters willing to vote for it. Do we really imagine that we can construct a national identity based on the culture of denial?

    However, there are encouraging signs that the multicultural nature of our country is understood by influential institutions and figures in public life. The Welsh media gave Jonathan Edwards short shrift on his comments with many commentators coming out against his point of view. Elfyn Llwyd
    distanced himself from his colleague’s remarks and reported that Mr Edwards had admitted that he had made a mistake (What we don’t know is whether Sam Warburton has received a personal apology from Jonathan Edwards for his offensive remarks). Dafydd Elis-Thomas has also publicly criticised Leanne Wood for her anti-UKIP voter stance. There is no improving on the view that it is facile and assumes a kind of superiority that we decide who is Welsh and who is not Welsh.

    In general, I don’t believe that the majority of Plaid supporters or other nationalists take the extreme view, though they do exist both inside and outside the party. But the contradiction remains in Welsh cultural life between those who subscribe to monoculturalism and those who subscribe to multiculturalism. These two cultural policies are contradictory; only one of them can prevail.

  7. Jonathan Edwards – yet another casualty of being a twit whilst in possession of a Twitter account.

    Sam Warburton was put on the spot and cornered into responding to comments made to the press by English players saying that Welsh players hated them.
    He took the heat out of that allegation with his British comment. Good diplomacy but not as it turns out the “correct” response for JE.
    So what SW is selected on his skills as an open side not a as diplomat.

    JE’s tweet was unfair to SW and showed JE to be naiive.
    It was obvious that such a comment would be seized on, wrung out for every drop of juice by his political opponents and the some extra thrown in for example

    “This is not good enough for Mr Edwards. The fact that Mr Warburton has English parents and describes himself as British is apparently enough to exclude him from being Welsh in Mr Edwards’ eyes.”

    The tweet did not comment on Sam Warburton’s parents.
    The tweet’s point (badly made by JE) was not about SW describing himself as British but omitting to describe himself as being Welsh.

  8. Rhobat Bryn Jones is correct. Leanne Wood’s anti-UKIP remarks were an utter disgrace. It is good that she was admonished by Lord Elis-Thomas, Plaid’s Mr. Sensible. UKIP is the only party that truly promotes Welsh patriotism, and wishes to see us thrive in our United Kingdom. Plaid Cymru exemplify, time after time, how bad devolution has been for Wales, and the sooner we return to London rule the better. Then people in Wales can get on with building our society rather than having to accept second rate welfarist policies, and language extremism.

  9. @ Jeff Munro

    I think you’ve slightly missed the point that I was making. Leanne Wood as a leader of a political party is perfectly entitled to make anti-UKIP remarks. She is perfectly entitled to say, for example, that UKIP’s policies do not represent Wales’ best interests. What was unacceptable was her suggestion or implication that UKIP voters were somehow not Welsh. One of the purposes of a democracy is its inclusivity and that our political system allows us to have very strong arguments and disagreements without recourse to positions of saying that you don’t belong to society. That way, sectarianism lies.

  10. I am the very first person who will defend free speech and the IWA should be commended on providing a a free and open platform for debate to take place. Having said that – at risk of being accused of suggesting censorship – I am also disturbed that this free and unfettered platform is providing free reign to anti-Welsh rants; JWR for example clearly becomes apoplectic at anything positive about Wales.

    Having said that may I comment on the matter in hand? It may or may not have been sensible for Jonathan Edwards to have made the comment. However, although we live in the geographic unit of the British Isles that is what it is – a geographic unit. Warburton might consider Scandinavia; a geographic unit comprising three nations and I ask – would the captain of the Danish or Swedish football teams (or any other sport) have described himself as Scandinavian?

  11. @ Dr John Ball

    JWR is always getting het up about something; that is his democratic right. I just worry about his blood pressure.

    You say that it may or may not have been sensible for JE to have made the comment. I am surprised that you take such an ambiguous position on the matter. Either he was right to question Sam Warburton’s position as captain of the national team on the basis of his self-description as British or he wasn’t. You can agree or disagree with his point of view but to be indifferent suggests that it is OK for our sense of citizenship to be based on such arbitrary criteria as what offends a West Walian MP.

    As has been said elsewhere, Sam’s use of the word ‘British’ was in the context of a journalist pursuing a story of their being anti-English hatred among the Welsh camp. He was simply trying to diffuse the story which he did very adroitly.

    However British does not simply refer to a geographic unit, it also refers to a state with Westminster at its core that exerts a great deal of influence over the life of Wales. It also refers to a culture to which the vast majority of Welsh people belong, namely British Welsh. The culture of the Fro to which Jonathan Edwards belongs is a minority culture. That does not render it unimportant or insignificant. But it does mean that he is no position to judge the validity or otherwise of the majority of the population who belong to the British Welsh culture.

  12. The article clearly succeeded in its purpose of stimulating thought and debate. Although opinions differ, most of the comments make intelligent, well-reasoned points. In particular, Yvonne is right that the traditional laws of Welsh hospitality decree that we should not oblige non-Welsh people living in Wales to consider themselves Welsh if that is not what they prefer – but, by the same laws, we should acknowledge and welcome those who do. After all, it would be bad form not to acknowledge a British citizen not born in Britain as British.

    The article also proved its own assertion that the language question attracts fierce comments. Although it was not in fact primarily about the language, the very aggressive tone of a couple of the shorter comments rather makes its point for it.

    Those inclining in style towards a certain Scandinavian monster should realise that such oversensitivity is not a sign of confidence in one’s own position. It is doubly regrettable that the commentators in question did not choose to express themselves in a calmer, more logical manner, so that their opinions could then be discussed calmly and logically. As it is, there is no scope to discuss them further, except to note one case of a worrying trend, that of branding opinions a particular individual happens not to like as ‘anti-Welsh.’

    Dr Ball, how can anything in the article be described as ‘providing free reign [sic] to anti-Welsh rants’? Please specify. Give precise quotes.

    It should be clear to any unprejudiced person who actually reads it that the article is strongly pro-Welsh. Or is it ‘anti-Welsh’ to say ‘made us all proud to be Welsh’? Or ‘proud to call himself Welsh’? Or ‘Wales is the most beautiful part of the United Kingdom’? Or ‘a pride in the history of Wales, and of one’s own ancestors’? Or ‘those of us who feel so confident in our Welsh identity’? Or ‘the Welsh nation existed for centuries’? Or, indeed, ‘Cymru am byth’?

    You have an absolute right to express your opinions – and this is said without any of the qualifications you add which amount to a negation of that right and which are in fact a call for censorship – but when you make such eccentric claims, you must either explain them or withdraw them with appropriate apology.

  13. ” I am the very first person who will defend free speech and the IWA ”
    Having read the rest of your comment “Dr” John Ball, I’m really not sure you would be.

    “It may or may not have been sensible for Jonathan Edwards to have made the comment”.
    Well quite clearly and based on the outcry, much of which came from within his own party, it was not sensible. The fact you are still unclear about it concerns me about the worth of the rest of what you have to say.

    Perhaps you think I am being a little harsh on you? Well if you arrive here complaining that people are allowed an opinion which is not in breach of any rules and is not offensive, sexist or racist in any way… well then be prepared for people to take umbrage with your attempted censorship.

    Might I suggest you use your doctorate and broadcasted superior intellect to tackle John Winterson Richards’ points head on, as opposed to attempting to gag him.

  14. The level of analysis in this piece is even lower than that evinced in Jonathan Edwards’s original stupid tweet.

    But it is perhaps worth noting a contradiction here that is fairly common among those who disguise their ignorance of Welsh cultural histories under the banner of multiculturalism. On the one hand Wales is seen to be lacking a ‘common culture’. The author states: ‘Nor can we really boast a common culture’. On the other, he advocates multi-culturalism. So why would we want a ‘common culture’ and why would we boast about it if we did? Which modern nation does have a ‘common culture’ in any case?

    I’m not sure what a ‘Welsh language monomaniac’ would be. Those wishing a future for Welsh are campaigning for multicultural tolerance by definition. Unlike most first language English speakers, virtually all Welsh speakers also speak another language. English language monomaniacs are of course very common. Some of them even claim to be multiculturalists!

  15. Furthermore, I’m not to sure what you’re doctorate is in, but clearly not geography because Scandinavia is not a passport issuing country as far as I’m aware…. Britain is.

  16. I am glad JWR wrote this article, because it allows him to fully express his points of view and where they comes from. I do not agree with much of it, but there are points for agreement as well as disagreement and he lays down the basis for a civilised and engaged discourse.

    Over the past couple of months, the general tone of debate here has improved to the point where topics are quite often being discussed rather than being shouted over.

    Perhaps there is a basis whereby we enjoy more articles from those who see each other as antagonists whose opinions ought to be encouraged. Especially when they highlight the grey nature of political discourse. It is not all believing in view A or B (and Heaven Forbid, C) but that people are capable of having viewpoints which by their nuanced nature allow those who agree or oppose them to relate to them as sentinent beings who have a reason for their beliefs.

    After all, the greatest curse facing Wales these days is our electoral monoculture. From North Korea to Zimbabwe and Mexico, political monocultures rarely are good for a nation’s health.

  17. The question of reconciling the need for a common culture in order that we can function as a society and acknowledging the multicultural nature of that society is at the heart of a debate about creating a civil society. It is true that Wales never achieved a common culture that united its citizens though there are Welsh cultures through which identity was expressed. We have inherited those cultures though not the forum through which dialogue is established between them.

    I would argue that the National Assembly is the first public institution to encompass the whole of Wales and thus provide the forum in which these different cultures can co-exist. If we’re genuine in wanting to create an inclusive society, then the concept of multicultural citizenship may prove useful. The common culture would be found in a citizens’ legal identity. In other words, all those who live in Wales are Welsh citizens and, within that framework, respect and acknowledgment is given to the different cultures and communities that make up that society; and that includes the sizeable English population that makes up part of the country. They will clearly differ demographically and their influence with vary with the numbers that make up their constituency. However, this model cannot work unless one fundamental principle, as contained in Article 17 of the Convention of Human Rights where it states that, “No-one may use the rights guaranteed by the Convention to seek the abolition or limitation of rights guaranteed in the Convention”, is both respected and observed.

    In the context of cultural discourse, this means acknowledging and respecting the rights of all cultures to exist within the society of Wales. Unfortunately not all subscribe to that view. There are those for whom British culture is the enemy, the non-Welsh institution to be driven from our political and social life. In other words, culture is a legitimate battleground where differences are the basis for an us and them mentality and all the social divisions that travel in its wake. And there is the dilemma. I can see no future in a policy of monoculturalism that does not acknowledge the reality of modern Welsh society. If our politicians (including Jonathan Edwards) focus their efforts on the creation of a common citizenship and the recognition of and respect for our cultural plurality, then perhaps we will have the basis for seeing our cultural diversity as an asset and not a threat.

  18. John Winterson Richards,

    I was going to ignore this puerile and inch-deep serving of pub wisdom, but having just read your insufferably condescending response to the commenters beneath your article I feel compelled to chip in.

    You characterise those who react angrily to your article as hysterical romanticists, and bemoan their inability to muster the requisite levels of moustache-twizzling rationality to be able to compete with you on this imagined ‘higher level’ of rational analysis.

    But it appears not to have crossed your mind that many of us will have been angered at your unnecessary and thoroughly unpleasant attempt to racialise the discussion around Edwards’s comments. This is unfortunately a common move by some people of a Unionist persuasion who wish to de-legitimise the concerns of Welsh independence advocates or language rights activists, and it has ugly consequences.

    Whatever one thinks of Edwards’s tweet, and I happen to think that it was ill-advised for a few reasons, his comment was clearly about a sense of allegiance to a particular nation, not race. From a racial perspective nothing Warburton could say or do would have made a difference, because both his parents are English. If race really was what Edwards was concerned with, then he would have said something along the lines of “Why does the Welsh team have an ethnically English captain?”

    Your piece is also heavily premised on a bizarre assertion that Wales is more of an ‘idea’ than a ‘proper country’. This could be applied to pretty much any nation-state on the planet.

    Please keep your paranoid fears of race war to yourself, as most right thinking people who visit this site want to discuss Welsh language, culture and nationhood in a sensible way without it being transformed into blood and soil mud slinging.

  19. The following narrative represents the thoughts that occurred to me after reading the article. I did not read the comments.
    1. I thought the article was appropriate and one that would provoke a response.
    2. I say so as someone who was born in Wales. I obtained an O’ level in Welsh many years ago, but do not speak Welsh. The latest census suggests that I am one of at least 81% of people who do not speak Welsh. There was a time when I would describe myself as Welsh. Not any more. I describe myself as British because of alienation.
    3. I respect the language and it’s contribution to Welsh life. However, I am not a believer in statutory coercion.
    4. As someone who is interested in economic development & regeneration, I agree with the sentiments expressed in a recent blog by Professor Dylan Jones-Evans who suggested that Welsh can enhance a brand and make a contribution to economic development. He cited, for example, Penderyn. I agree. However, if Welsh is foist upon people, then my personal view is that it can be and will be inimical. This is the case with public sector procurement. I should add that I have been operating my consultancy for nearly 13 years. At no time during that period have I had to engage in Welsh. Actually, if I had been forced to do so, the business would have failed very quickly indeed – a key point for the sustainability of businesses in Wales. The other big topic is education. I recall listening recently to an “Any Questions” radio programme from Neath. A teacher suggested (actually she stated) that teaching the multiplicity of subjects through the medium of Welsh (by poorly qualified teachers) was a significant contributor to Wales poor educational performance. I am not able to offer a comment on her statement other than to reflect on Wales desperately poor results, whether via Estyn or PISA……and more recently. What message does this send out to potential employers, whether indigenous, or indeed potential inward investors?
    5. As for the tweet by Mr Edwards, it is that sort of thing that is divisive and leads to further alienation. Ironically, I was in Llandeilo on Saturday and watched an afternoon game of Rugby at the Cae William. As a former player of Llandeilo RFC, I mingled happily among Welsh & English speaking people. Everyone was comfortable in their skin and respected (i) who they were talking to and (ii) their respective languages. Perhaps Mr Edwards needs to get out a bit more.
    6. I will continue to make a modest contribution to my birth country. I am proud to do so. But my growing sense of unease (alienation) may in part explain the reason why I have opened an office in Bristol where the economy is more vibrant and cosmopolitan. I can’t be the only one who has such feelings.

  20. Rhobat Bryn Jones writes ‘I would argue that the National Assembly is the first public institution to encompass the whole of Wales and thus provide the forum in which these different cultures can co-exist’. I wholeheartedly agree with you there Rhobat.

    But I would take issue with one paragraph you have written so have taken the liberty of changing the words ‘Welsh’ and ‘British’ so as to illustrate how your paragraph might appear from a different standpoint – ‘There are those for whom Welsh culture is the enemy, the non-British institution to be driven from our political and social life.’ I can assure you that I’ve had the misfortune of encountering people in Wales who exhibit such hostile views to Welsh culture and Welsh institutions.

    John Winterson Richards’ article has engendered a very a lively response. However, its very disappointing that here we are in the 21st Century and yet some contributor’s posts reveal attitudes to the Welsh language and Welsh speakers that appear to have come straight from middle of the 19th Century and the ‘treachery of the Blue Books’.

    Jeff Munro: I’m afraid your faith that Ukip will return Wales to direct rule from Wokingham is misplaced, as the party no longer wants to end the right of the Welsh people to manage some of their own affairs. This was reiterated on ITV’s Sharp End this week by Nathan Gill, Ukip’s lead candidate in Wales in the forthcoming European elections..

  21. Daniel, precisely which ‘cultural histories’ do you think have been ignored? You cannot mean any of the well-known ones. These words are being typed opposite a bookcase stuffed with the likes of Sir John Lloyd, John Davies, Gwyn A Williams, Dai Smith, and Gwynfor Evans, among many, many other sources, both ancient and modern. Note especially that disagreement with a writer’s political stance has never been a reason not to buy, read, and consider his writings – quite the contrary. How many contributors to this site can say the same?

    The article itself does not in fact advocate multiculturalism – or a common culture. It does not advocate any preferred culture. It simply offers some observations on our existing situation.

    Glyn, the essence of rational dialogue is to respond to the other party. This is impossible when your contribution seems to have absolutely no point of contact with what was actually written in the original article or in subsequent comments. You have every right to express your disagreement with what is said – although your abusive language does not strengthen your case – but kindly refrain from making up your own version.

    Nevertheless David Lloyd Owen is right when he says that the general standard of discourse on this website is civilised, even when one disagrees with it. The few exceptions should not distract us from that. Wales needs more than a shouting match – or a dialogue of the deaf.

  22. Robert…

    You tell us you feel “alienated”.

    You believe there is a “statutory coercion” (presumably of the Welsh language) in some way

    And yet “I should add that I have been operating my consultancy for nearly 13 years. At no time during that period have I had to engage in Welsh. Actually, if I had been forced to do so, the business would have failed very quickly indeed”.

    So it’s a coercion you yourself have not been subjected to.

    And “I mingled happily among Welsh & English speaking people. Everyone was comfortable in their skin and respected (i) who they were talking to and (ii) their respective languages”.

    And so it’s a sense of alienation that must exist everywhere except Llandeilo Rugby Club.

    I sympathise with your feelings Robert (I’m sure they are genuinely held), but on the basis of your testimony here you may wish to re-examine precisely why you feel the way you do. It seems as though somebody is raising false spectres and scapegoats in your mind that you yourself have not seen. Perhaps you should re-think the company you keep?

    Incidentally, the vast majority of education in Wales is conducted entirely through the medium of English (even Cymraeg as a subject). If the education system in Wales is underperforming it has no more to do with the Welsh language than it does with woodwork or home economics.

  23. @ Leigh Richards

    You’re quite right, Leigh. There is a great deal of ignorance surrounding the culture of Cymreictod outwith its circle which give rise to prejudiced views about it. The same can be said about the language as well. It is by no means a one way street.

    It is also the case that Welsh speakers still do not enjoy the same level of civil rights as English speakers. But in addition. there is a very narrow attitude that emanates from members of the Cymreictod culture that they decide who is Welsh and who is not. This in part is due to the fact that the Eisteddfod, the focal point for Cymreictod, is not a democratic body but is based on the principle of the elite selecting new members of the elite, the roots of this lying in the old diaconate model of the chapels, and thus provides the basis for a top-down view of other cultures. Were it based on a political model of accountability, one wonders for how long these old-fashioned attitudes could persist.

    My point is that whatever historical cultural attitudes we have inherited, we now have the appropriate mechanisms for constructing a cultural model of Wales that is inclusive and not based on mutual distrust. In my view, given our divided history, only a legal framework can provide this, at least as a starting point. This will mean that those on both sides with entrenched attitudes will have to change their view of Wales to one that more accurately reflects the society we actually live in. As Keynes once put it in a different context,

    “When my information changes, I alter my conclusions. What do you do, sir?”

  24. If Sam wants to call himself British that’s fine by me. He could call himself a Martian if he wants, as long as he gets back to winning ways with Wales asap I don’t care. He’s a great guy. But there’s no such nationality as ‘British’. Britain is a political state comprising three nations (currently), namely England, Scotland and Wales, and the province of Northern Ireland.

  25. It is not accurate nor fair to say that the Eisteddfod is an undemocratic institution. Membership is open to anyone who shares its aims (essentially supporting the Welsh language and Welsh culture) and who pays the sub.

    For all our squabbling, or perhaps because of it, democracy is something the people who live in Wales do fairly well when it comes to non-governmental institutions, from chapel to rugby club.

  26. Rhobat,

    To claim that the august members of the Gorsedd of Bards still define Cymreictod in Wales is a bit much I think. However, I’m sure they’d be delighted, if a little surprised, that you say that given that many of them spend a great deal of time writing in the pages of Barn, Golwg and y Cymro bemoaning the loss of eisteddfodic culture at an alarming rate.

    I am happy to concede that for the purposes of a debate like this one must isolate a certain number of cultural beacons (rather than just argue that every expression of Cymreictod is somehow equally influential) as ‘leading’ or ‘defining’ a culture, but I think that any discussion like that which neglects S4C, Radio Cymru, C2, some key mass movements like Cymdeithas or Plaid, or the Welsh-medium education system would be seriously ‘lite’. There is some cross over of leadership and outlook throughout this cultural network, I admit, but the picture is much more diffuse and organic than your portrayal of the ‘diaconate model’ (albeit a beautifully illustrative phrase) implies.

  27. I have not used abusive language, my comments are an admittedly angry condemnation of things you have written, which I find abhorrent. I have no interest in hurling abuse at somebody for the pleasure of it. You are trying to discredit what I have said by hiding behind a veil of gentlemanly propriety, rather than addressing the issue I have raised. It’s hardly surprising that people react angrily when you use incendiary language such as “Welsh language monomaniacs” so please, drop the act.

    There is nothing wrong with discussing issues of Welshness, but there is when people like you make the dangerous move of framing the issue as a confrontation between races. There is no race war in Wales, we are talking about language, culture and nation states, not ethnic origin.

    Whatever one thinks of Edwards, Plaid Cymru, or the Welsh Language, this issue has nothing whatsoever to do with race (see my earlier comment) and if you do in fact value “rational dialogue” you should apologise for framing it this way, then I would be willing to respect your views.

    Examples of racial language in your article to disprove your allegation that my comments have “no point of contact” with it:

    “This is not good enough for Mr Edwards. The fact that Mr Warburton has English parents and describes himself as British is apparently enough to exclude him from being Welsh in Mr Edwards’ eyes.”

    “A very large number of people now living in Wales were born outside Wales, or have one or more non-Welsh parents, or are descended from people in those categories. These people have votes. Many have often wondered if Plaid secretly believes in a narrow definition of ‘Welshness’ that somehow excludes them. Mr Edwards’ words will fuel those fears.”

    “Definitions of nationality based on race are now very unfashionable, but, to be honest, they were always pretty dodgy. Waves of invaders and economic immigration have left us as much a ‘mongrel nation’ as the English.”

    “Finally, let us agree that there is no place for racism in these debates, even the ‘mild’ anti-English strain.“

  28. Glyn, sincere apologies if ‘gentlemanly propriety’ makes you angry!

    You have no right to be. If no one wants to engage with your assertions about ‘race war’, it is because the article has nothing to do with it. Re-read it carefully. Read what it actually says, not what you imagine it says – or what you would like it to say so that you have an excuse to get worked up.

    You will note that the only two references to race are dismissive of the whole notion. Indeed you quote them. ‘Definitions of nationality based on race… were always pretty dodgy’ and ‘there is no place for racism in these debates.’ Do you disagree with either of those two statements? If so, please state why – and you will definitely get a debate!

    If ‘Welsh language monomaniacs’ hits a raw nerve with you, read the whole sentence. Like it or not, justly or not, it is a fact that many in Wales do see Welsh nationalists that way, but the opening paragraph makes it clear that the sympathies of the article are with those more pensive nationalists who want to change that image.

    Now the question Mr Edwards must ask himself – and, with respect, you and one or two of the more aggressive contributors to this thread must ask yourselves – is whether his ‘tweet’ and your comments have helped to change the negative image or to cement it?

  29. JWR
    “but the opening paragraph makes it clear that the sympathies of the article are with those more pensive nationalists who want to change that image”

    Given the sympathy perhaps a future article might address how the perception of Plaid Cymru being a “refuge for Welsh language monomaniacs” is nurtured by those opposed to it’s vision and aims for Wales.

  30. It’s always difficult to know quite when to intervene further in a debate that has thus far generated more heat than light. However, since my comments have in turn been addressed I think it appropriate to respond.
    Firstly, I stand by my original comments; JWR began with an inappropriate and entirely out of context attack on the Welsh language and then went on to suggest that somehow we in Wales have no cultural identity (although this did allow him another swipe at the language). Although aware of the long cultural tradition in Welsh (which he dismisses out of hand), presumably he is not aware that much of it has been translated into English providing a wider opportunity for English speakers to enjoy poetry and prose at least as good (if not better) than Shakespeare. He seems also not to be aware of the poetry and prose written in in English by writers such as Harri Webb, Jac Jones, the late Nigel Jenkins and many others, or the scientific and engineering contribution made to the world by Grove, Everest and others or indeed of the development of the Open Hearth Furnace.and PLUTO, both from Swansea and which contributed in no small part to the defeat of nazism. I could go on….
    I have no intention of contributing further such that JWR can assure us of the beauty of our country or his pride in being Welsh (except it seems in our language and culture – in both languages). If he wishes to express his views in a public forum that he must expect and accept responses, some of which by definition will be fundamentally opposite to his – and to demand an apology from someone who happens to disagree with him is totally unacceptable and simply undermines his arguments. Oh and by the way, you’re not getting one.
    May I comment on “comeoffit?” Please do not lecture me on geography. I am well aware that Scandinavia does not issue passports and that is not the point. Scandinavia is a geographic unit in a particular part of Europe comprising three nations with a limited common social and historical background. Whist the residents do regard themselves as Scandinavian, that is entirely secondary to their national awareness and indeed pride; something comeoffit does not understand.
    And….why are you hiding behind a pseudonym? In fairness to JWR he is prepared to be known as indeed am I and most contributors; so why are you hiding?

  31. @ CA Jones

    Those people who identify themselves as citizens of the UK tend to refer to themselves as British therefore the nation being referred to is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. This is a nation that is recognised by the United Nations in a way that England, Scotland and Ireland are not.

    @ Emyr Lewis

    I believe the institution that you refer is the Eisteddfod Court which is indeed a membership organisation. Correct me if I’m wrong but doesn’t the Court come under the authority of the Trustees? I need to do a little more research on this (or receive enlightment from those better informed than I). My comments referred to the Gorsedd of Bards who choose who can be a member of their ranks and who cannot. We are referring to different institutions within the Eisteddfod, I think. Apologies for any confusion.

    However I do agree that a long standing tradition of democracy does lie at the heart of our local cultures and there are many organisations in Wales that operate on those principles.

    @ Phil Davies

    As I often find myself in agreement with you Phil, and where I don’t, I respect the thoughtful and coherent way in which you express your opinions, I am happy to respond to the points you make.

    Re-reading my remarks, I note that I state:

    “…, there is a very narrow attitude that emanates from members of the Cymreictod culture that they decide who is Welsh and who is not.”

    I do not equate those people who hold to narrow definitions of Welshness with the Gorsedd of Bards. Indeed was it not Dr Christine James, the current Archdderwydd who bemoaned the absence of ethnic minorites at the Eisteddfod? This apparently was a controversial statement though it seems to me to be a perfectly realistic and sensible observation. I also know that this issue is beginning to be researched at academic level so there is an awareness of the issue there as well.

    But those who hold to the concrete version of Cymreictod as the alpha and omega of Welsh identity do not recognise Briitsh Welsh culture as a valid Welsh culture; it does not fit with the monocultural agenda that they subscribe to. I suspect, rather, that the Gorsedd holds a range of views within its ranks.

    I was interested in what you had to say about the articles relating to the grieving over the decline of eisteddfodic culture. I can sympathise with those who commit themselves so passionately to this culture, in particular its poetry and literature. If there is a positive role that the Eisteddfod plays in the modern world, it is the valuing and nurturing of writers in the Welsh language. Hir oes i hynny.

    But the one thing that you can be sure of in any modern democratic society is that its culture does not stand still but changes in relation to new circumstances, new relationships, new technology. Therefore devising a culture and hoping that, by freezing it in time, it will bring strength to an identity will always lead to disappointment. For strength, read inflexibility; for inflexibility, read brittleness.

    As you say, those in the Welsh language media realised this quite a while ago and are attempting to develop a youth culture that is more readily accessible to a younger generation. Personally, I would also like to see a Radio 4 Cymraeg where programmes of more depth and insight are produced and there is more time to explore issues than is currently available in a pop-oriented culture.

    I was going to finish by making two comments and expand on them in a further blog if necessary. The first is that I find it hard to agree with you as describing Cymdeithas yr Iaith as a mass movement and the second is the bizarre way in which our Welsh-medium education service is divided into first and second language.

    However events have overtaken me. On Radio Wales on the way home in the car, I heard that Lord Dafydd Elis Thomas has been sacked as transport spokesman for Plaid Cymru for his criticism of Leanne Wood’s view that to vote UKIP was to be against Wales. It would appear that Leanne Wood and the Plaid Cymru assembly group is now the arbiter of who is Welsh and who is not.

    It is a little strange as well for a leader who represents approximately 20% of the population claiming to represent the values of 100% of the population.

    However I am left meditating on the words of Martin Niemoller who I think would have expressed the view that they came for members of UKIP and I did not speak up because I was not a member of UKIP. To what degree, I wonder, do those words relate to the thoughts of Leanne Wood? Or perhaps we can look forward to her establishing an Assembly Committee for un-Welsh activities.

  32. Dr Ball, an apology was requested – not demanded, or, to be honest, expected – not for disagreeing with what was said, which would be no more than a welcome contribution to intelligent dialogue, but for inventing your own version, which is frankly unethical.

    Your initial comment had nothing to do with the actual article and was immediately refuted. You were invited to defend your position with quotes and you have failed to do so. Instead you come up with another list of bizarre allegations. Where does the article ‘attack the Welsh language’ or ‘swipe at the Welsh language’? Quotes please – then again, do not bother: we both know there are none.

    Moreover, if you are going to accuse someone you have, presumably, never met of ignorance of something, do your research first. In this case, a little time spent online would provide you with evidence of the inaccuracy of that claim in respect of Welsh poetry and achievements in this case. Why you should choose to make such statements in the first place is another matter…

    Finally, it is a personal policy when online to respond even to the most abusive comments relatively gently. Since one does not know the person behind the name, it is possible that a childish comment is made by a child, and one would not want to be too crushing in case one discouraged a young person from future participation in public debate. You, however, claim to have a doctorate, so you should be held be held to a higher standard. You should be familiar with the concept of defending a thesis. You have advanced a number of outrageous theses in your comments. Be a man: defend them or withdraw them. If not, please answer Comeoffit’s question: tell us all the subject of your doctorate and the organisation which gave it to you, so that we may draw our own conclusions about both.

  33. After reading much of the above I can honestly say that I’m astonished.

    So much effort expended by so many on trying to be Welsh, pretending to be Welsh or just wishing to be ‘more Welsh’ than the next person. And yet for what purpose? Wales and all forms of ‘Welshness’ surely only exist because of the largesse of England and Scotland.

    Isn’t it time everyone in Wales started to grow up?

  34. So right Don. Everybody, when I wake up I thank the Forest of Dean and Ben Nevis that I’m Welsh.

  35. @ Don

    I hope you’ve recovered from your astonishment. The point is that a leader of a serious political party has used the term “UnWelsh” which means that, in their minds, there are members of the population who belong and there are members of the population who do not belong to our society, because of the way they vote. In a democracy, it is important for people to know that, whatever their political beliefs, ALL are citizens in our society and enjoy the same legal rights. It is also important for our citizens to know that we do not discriminate against people because of their cultural identity.

    Leanne Wood is trying to take political discourse in Wales down a very dark path. That is why it is important that she is challenged on it. She clearly regards the issue of the credibility of her leadership as more important than her use of divisive rhetoric. But she also needs to clarify what she means by Welsh and UnWelsh. IF she remains silent on the issue, then we know that she stands by her statement and cultural perspective on the people of Wales. I thought that her press statement in which she called for a united party a little ironic in view of her divisive remarks.

    Much will depend on the response of the Welsh media as to whether we get a clear answer. I thought that Nic Servini struggled manfully in his interview with Dafydd Elis Thomas to get a handle on a story with so many angles. One angle of course is whether Dafydd El is slowly being pushed to the margins with a view to his eventual exit. Clearly his emphasis on an inclusive national culture irks the current leader and possibly the group as a whole, given their backing for Leanne and their eagerness to take over his transport spokesman role and chairship of the Environment Committee.

    I suspect however that the media will simply let the issue drop. If any other leader used a comparative term such as unEnglish or unIrish, there would be media uproar and the story would run until a satisfactory answer was obtained. Unfortunately I’m not sure the Welsh media has the necessary determination to do that.

  36. Rhobat,

    Kind words. Thank you for taking an interest in my ideas.

    Just one reflection.

    Whilst the current media focus is on Leanne Wood’s appropriation of some sort of ‘Welshness’ following her conference speech, it is worthwhile remembering that the assertion that a distinctly ‘Welsh’ political character exists (or ‘Welsh way’) is by no means the preserve of Plaid Cymru. The idea that Wales somehow has a default political temperament which is different to that of England or other places permeates practically all strains of ‘decentralist’ thought across all sorts of individuals and parties who advocate greater or lesser degrees of autonomy. Even when it is not necessarily a deeply held conviction, it is an ever-present rhetorical tool that many take advantage of when it suits them. It was Rhodri Morgan, after all, who gave ‘Welsh’ Labour its ‘clear red water’, and politicians across the political divide often claim to know distinct Welsh ‘priorities’ and ‘manifest preferences’, most commonly in some sort of claimed ‘communitarian’ instinct. It is only semantics that divides the statements “marketization is un-Welsh” and “marketization is not a manifest preference of the Welsh people”.

    Put another way, this week Leanne Wood is claiming that anti-Europeanism and anti-migration[ism] (for in essence that is what she is reducing Ukip’s ideology to) is not representative of the ‘Welsh way’, next week Carwyn Jones will be claiming that introducing the market to the Health Service or radical welfare reform is not representative of the ‘Welsh way’, and the week after that the Liberals will be claiming that the removal of legal aid is not consistent with the ‘Welsh way’. It is even conceivable, and may even have happened in the 2000s, that Welsh Conservatives would claim that left-wing London metropolitan policies on country life and rural affairs were not representative of the ‘Welsh way’ – and they could probably point to an Assembly consensus in support of their argument.

    It goes without saying that all them will claim to know the ‘British way’ from time to time of course…and the statement that something is ‘un-British’ is far more common in political rhetoric than ‘un-Welsh’.

    It is not something I like or condone (since at best it is intellectually reductive), but I do challenge all those interested in Welsh politics to take an honest look at the thinking and rhetoric of all parties. You will find an underlying ‘national’ phenomenon at play here not just a Plaid Cymru or Leanne Wood ‘fault’- albeit I agree with DET that these recent examples of throwaway comments are facile and crass and disappoint many nationalists who see things in rather more prosaic ways.

  37. @ Phil Davies

    I’ve taken my time to think about a response to your points since they seem to me to be multi-layered and rely on certain assumptions. It has taken me some time to work out what I think those assumptions might be.

    If a political party refers to the “Welsh way of doing things” in whatever form, it seems to me that this is something that is decided democratically and its criteria are transparent. We can refer to an opt-out organ donation system as being the Welsh way of doing things as the elected representatives of the people of Wales have decided that is the system to be adopted and in open session. But would we infer from that that an opt-in system is un-Welsh?

    I think that it is perfectly legitimate for any political party to talk of the Welsh national interest. Plaid would argue that it is in the WNI to stay in Europe, as does Labour, whereas UKIP would argue that it is in the WNI to come out of Europe. Who decides which of these is true? The answer is of course the voters. Who they vote for will indicate what the national interest will be by indicating their support for the various parties’ political. Here the notion of national interest is contested and contestable but decided by the people who best know what they consider their interests to be.

    Therefore taking up your point that Leanne Wood is saying that anti-Europeanism and an anti-immigration (UKIP doesn’t seem to have a problem with emigration) stance is not the Welsh way is at best confusing and at worst misleading. Is she saying that the population of Wales is in favour of Europe and in favour of immigration outright? I would like to think that is true but I suspect the political reality is a great deal more complicated than she is suggesting. I remember teaching someone who considered it an act of pride that a woman newly arrived to the Valleys had been shunned because she was English. The impression given by the speaker was that this was to show her that she lived somewhere different. One cannot argue a point from an anecdote but my question would be is this attitude more prevalent than I have been led to believe and, if so, is this the voter she is trying to appeal to?

    But Leanne Wood took matters a step further. Wales is of course an immigrant nation and has been since the industrial revolution and continues to be so to this day. Which is why the phrase ‘unWelsh’ sits so badly. It is capable of being used and hijacked for all types of discrimination and bigotry. But this now appears to be the official stance of Plaid Cymru since, within his own party, Dafydd El is now isolated with former colleagues, such as Cynon Davies, accusing him of spoiling the conference by his remarks.

    Leanne’s unrepentant use of this divisive language means that Plaid Cymru are not willing to listen to the contrary point of view. However, in a civilised society, we protect the rights and respect the cultural identity of all our citizens, not just the ones we consider Welsh. Are we to assume that the 20% of the population of Wales that is born in England should now consider themselves unWelsh?

    If we cannot rely on political parties in Wales to behave and talk responsibly, then we have to consider a Bill of Rights for Wales that protects all its citizens from this reckless and thoughtless use of language by apparently democratic politicians.

  38. @Rhobat Bryn Jones

    I like much of what you have written but worry that you, too, may be getting a little bit confused.

    The vast majority of people born in England but living in Wales would never want to be thought of as anything other than British and/or English. Similarly so with those born in Scotland and Ireland. And, insofar as they most certainly are not ‘Welsh’ the term ‘unWelsh’ could never be applied and no offence could ever be taken.

    By all means talk of ‘the people of Wales’. But never talk of ‘Welsh people’ unless you are referring to a particular type of person, the majority of whom probably live in Wales but many live happily elsewhere.

    In Scotland the SNP has delicately managed to finesse this problem over recent years by always using the inclusive ‘people of Scotland’. In England the ills of such terminology have been hidden for generations by use of the term ‘British’. Most immigrants living in England have always referred to themselves as British, preferring to use the term ‘English’ to describe an altogether different type.

  39. There are elements to agree with and to disagree with in every paragraph that you write Rhobat, but nothing that you say persuades me to change my central argument, which was not that complicated really:

    1. Claiming to know the ‘default’ characteristics of a national identity and reducing them to a set of soundbites in order to associate one’s own political preferences with some sort of ‘national’ preference is intellectually insubstantial and rhetorically crass. (I’m not sure we should be taking people who resort to this to court though as it is much easier to simply demonstrate their ignorance through debate, is it not?)

    2. Leanne Wood’s speech last week is probably an example of this sort of rhetoric…

    3. …but I’ll take some persuading that it was a particularly bad example, or particularly heinous, or particularly exceptional. This rhetorical device is used all over the place, dressed up in different garb to suit different audiences and is applied at both Welsh and British (and Scottish) levels by all parties. It is always regrettable and disappointing, but if I had a penny for every time a Welsh Labour politician has claimed that Wales is somehow an innately egalitarian and communitarian country vis-à-vis England or a Conservative politician has claimed that Britain is somehow innately entrepreneurial vis-à-vis Europe… I’d have a few quid.

    I am not arguing Leanne Wood’s innocence, I am respectfully reminding Cardiff Bay scribes and Pharisees that they are subject to the same law as well and have transgressed in the past. I am more than happy to patiently wait for another transgression to take place which proves the universality of application I am talking of, for one will come along as sure as night follows day, and as long as politicians have a magpie weakness for a piece of shiny rhetorical foil…

  40. I’m not really sure whether a further response to JWR is needed or appropriate, I commented on the initial article and in quiet, measured tones responded to his subsequent reply, which he clearly either did not read or understand. Sadly, his latest response has degenerated into school boy insults – all that’s missing is “my dad can fight your dad.”
    As far as I am concerned the matter is now closed, I have far better ways of spending my time than taking part in a dialogue of the deaf,
    And you are welcome to look me up on google….

  41. Dr Ball, whether it is possible to accuse someone of being “anti-Welsh” and call for censorship in “quiet, measured tones” might conceivably be a matter for debate, even if such a debate is likely to be one-sided.

    What is beyond debate is that to accuse someone of saying what they did not say is unethical ,and to go on to criticise someone for saying what they did not say suggests a lack of confidence in the capacity of your own position to be defended by logical argument.

    Most higher degrees demand, among other things, the ability to engage with source material, to read it carefully, and to understand it. Your claim that you have a doctorate therefore deprives you of the defence that you were acting ignorantly in good faith.

    Before you – finally – leave this thread as you promise, you might care to cast a final eye over the comments submitted by CapM, Rhobat Bryn Jones, and Phil Davies, among others. They are not always correct – to put it politely – but their arguments are always read with respect because they engage with what the other person has actually said, and write with courtesy and tolerance for opposing views.

    Then reread your own contributions and reflect whether they were ever likely to increase goodwill for whatever causes you are trying to promote.

  42. @ Phil Davies

    We can both agree as to the poor intellectual level of the comment. And all political players claim to represent what is best for Wales. Her comment however went beyond that. It is clear that, in her thinking, Wales is divided into the Welsh and the unWelsh. Currently that only includes UKIP voters. That is not a variation of what’s best for Wales; it is a divisive remark.

    There is also the issue of what people make of comments made by figures of authority. I remember when Christine Chapman made an off-hand dismissive remark about the water sculpture in Cardiff Bay. The following day it was graffitied.

    Maybe, I’ve misunderstood your remarks, Phil, but you seem to saying that this was an unfortunate remark whereas I am saying it is an unacceptable because of the divisive consequences of such language. In my view, unWelsh is a word that should be unacceptable in the modern political discourse of Wales.

  43. Dr Ball, whether it is at all possible to say something that sounds hysterical, like accusing someone of being “anti-Welsh” and calling for censorship, in “quiet, measured tones” might conceivably be a matter for debate, even if such a debate is likely to be one-sided.

    What is beyond debate is that to accuse someone of saying what they did not say is unethical, and to go on to criticise someone for saying what they did not say suggests a lack of confidence in the capacity of your own position to be defended by logical argument.

    Most higher degrees demand, among other things, the ability to engage with source material, to read it carefully, and to understand it. Your claim that you have a doctorate therefore deprives you of the defence that you were acting ignorantly in good faith.

    Before you – finally – leave this thread as you promise, you might care to cast a final eye over the comments submitted by CapM, Rhobat Bryn Jones, and Phil Davies, among others. They are not always correct – to put it politely – but their arguments are always read with respect because they engage with what the other person has actually said, and write with courtesy and tolerance for opposing views.

    Then reread your own contributions and reflect whether they were ever likely to increase goodwill for whatever causes you are trying to promote.

  44. Robat,

    “Inside the ‘One Wales’ cultural milieu, Welsh Labour’s rhetoric has trumpeted the particularity of a ‘small nation’ and people with ‘Welsh values’ and ‘Welsh attitudes’ declared to be very different to ‘the English way’.”

    I thought I’d have to wait a bit longer than a few days, but see the latest article by Michael Sullivan here on Click on Wales. http://www.clickonwales.org/2014/03/carwyns-one-wales-philosophy-spikes-plaids-guns/. He’s pretty much making the same point as I did above.

    The rest is semantics, which is always a fascinating topic of discussion over a pint, but not one I care to indulge in here.

  45. @ Phil Davies

    I thought that I made the point in a previous comment that when a democratically elected body embarks on a particular course of action, it is perfectly legitimate to ascribe to those decisions the term ‘Welsh’ as these are decisions made by a body elected by the people of Wales whatever their cultural identity or background; it is a civic term which relates to citizenship. It is observable and objective. I don’t disagree with that point of view.

    Where we disagree is that divisive remarks which are indicative of divisive thinking are not merely semantics, they indicate exclusive attitudes, the victims of which suffer personal and social consequences to their detriment.

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