There are many people who, quite frankly, hate us for being Welsh. We hear it regularly from smart-arse stand-ups and oh-so-clever calumnists. They can say and write things about us that would get them prosecuted if ‘Black’, ‘Jewish’, ‘Irish’, ‘Pakistani’ or any other group was substituted for ‘Welsh’. Most are thankfully outside of Wales, but there are some living among us.
This latter group doesn’t like Wales being in any way ‘different’ to England. They are not prepared to tolerate a separate, Welsh national identity, and the thought of any of us speaking a language other than English makes some of them apoplectic. (Especially when reminded, or informed, that Welsh was spoken in England long before English.) The people I’m describing won’t really be satisfied until every last vestige of a separate Welsh identity has disappeared.
Though I will concede that antipathy towards Welsh identity and traditions is something of which we ourselves have sometimes been guilty. Our own aristocracy and gentry couldn’t drop the ap and the ab quick enough once they were sure Harri Tudur was secure on the throne of the newly-minted Englandandwales. A few centuries later the rise of socialism, and especially the growth of the English-Irish Labour Party, saw Welshness again rejected, this time because it was ‘holding us back’. (From what exactly, was never adequately explained.)
Today, the anti-Welshness we experience is different because it cannot be explained by self-interest or warped political dogma; and it’s much less likely to come from within the Welsh nation itself. Which makes what we are experiencing today pure, naked racism.
To some extent it stems from what political analysts describe as a ‘growing sense of English identity’. Which need not be a bad thing when preached by, say, Billy Bragg; but Bragg’s interpretation of Englishness hardly resonates outside of folk clubs. Whereas what I’m thinking of – even without invoking the BNP or EDL – is rather intolerant and xenophobic. Expressed in its attitudes to ‘Europe’, immigration, ‘ungrateful’ Jocks and other villains . . . with foreign aid and further grievances being unearthed by politicians and media on an almost daily basis. In this scenario we Welsh are nothing but a bunch of sponging indigenous primitives to be ridiculed and despised. A bit like Aborigines, but with the saving grace that, being white, we can be anglicised and assimilated.
But of course none of this can be said openly (outside of the Daily Mail) which makes it very difficult for those who hate us for just being Welsh to express their true feelings. Nor do we provide a ‘hook’ on which they can hang their prejudices. For we have never attacked other nations. We have not in recent times waged guerilla warfare against England. We certainly don’t covet any far-off islands. We don’t commit more crimes than other groups. We are not religious zealots. And the smell of cawl being carried on the breeze shouldn’t offend anyone. Nor is there any reason to envy us, as the English envy the Germans for being richer, or the French for being more sophisticated. All of which gives a certain irony when standing up for what you are results in being called “an intolerant Welsh bastard” by Ukip supporters who fled Birmingham because they refused to live among other races and cultures.
Being unable to admit their ugly sentiments those I’m discussing must couch their hatred in what they hope sounds more rational language. They tell us they are opposed to further devolution, because it’s ‘too expensive’ . . . never because it gives power to a people they despise. Or they argue – on purely educational grounds, you understand – against the teaching of the Welsh language, or Welsh history, in our schools. Another favourite is the ‘waste of money’ on bilingualism – ‘cos we all speaks English, innit’. In fact anything distinctively Welsh is condemned as ‘divisive’ . . . whereas flying a flag that ignores Wales is, bizarrely, ‘inclusive’! And ninety-nine times out of a hundred it comes in the ‘package’. What’s the ‘package’? Well, just ask yourself, ‘How many people do I know who are rabidly hostile to the Welsh language but support greater devolution?’
Lest you think I’m exaggerating, or focusing too much on the realignment of identification taking place among the English, I shall broaden the scope of this opus to prove that Cymrophobia is a condition that can afflict individuals with roots far away, in lands of which we know little; belonging to nations with whom our fathers had no quarrel. Such a man is Jacques Protic. (Click to enlarge.)
Many of you may be unfamiliar with the name, but if you follow Welsh political blogs then you will have read his comments under a host of pseudonyms, ‘Jon Jones’, ‘Mo Patel’, etc. Once one is exposed another emerges. He also comments as Jacques Protic. The giveaway is that they often appear on the same post ‘supporting’ each other. On Twitter, Protic can – or could until recently – be found hiding behind a number of handles including: @gogwatch, @GLASNOSTORGUK, @cymnot, @Plaidodo (also used as an e-mail address), and @momopatel1960. This ‘Mo Patel’ Twitter account has now closed, but I’m told it started off using my gravatar with the eyes scratched out and the mouth taped over! There are almost certainly other identities. Though strangely, for a high-powered, international businessman, I can’t find a Twitter account in his own name.
(Protic thinks he’s been a clever boy recently by ‘naming’ me. Ooooo! Sorry, Jacques, but just about everybody knows I’m Royston Jones, originally from Swansea, now living near Tywyn.)
Protic is also, allegedly, the man behind the now defunct Gogwatch website and it is further suggested that he ran the Glasnost blog. Given his obsessive hatred for the teaching of Welsh (read this), there are many who believe that Protic was also BiLingo. Although not naming Protic this blog establishes the link between BiLingo and Gogwatch. BiLingo caused a great deal of hurt to good people, dedicated teachers, through having its lies repeated by English newspapers.
These Twitter accounts, blogs, and handles claim to speak for “the silent majority”, giving the impression of an army of concerned parents ready to rise up to fight the oppressor forcing the Welsh language down the throats of their darling offspring. And yet . . . where are they? Do we ever see them protesting outside council offices or schools? Is there an organisation claiming to represent them (other than Gogwatch, Glasnost, BiLingo)? I don’t deny there may be a minority that would prefer their children weren’t reminded they are in Wales, but they’re not bothered enough to make a fuss about it. That is left to a tiny number of obsessives like Protic, a man so eaten up with hatred, and so detached from reality, that he may believe his countless pseudonyms are real people – maybe his fabled ‘majority’!
Not only does Protic sometimes write in his own name, he has even stood for election. In May this year he offered himself to the electors of the Aethwy ward on Ynys Mon as an Independent candidate . . . he gained 3% of the vote. (Click to enlarge.) Maybe we shouldn’t read too much into a single election, but given that his views on the Welsh language and associated issues would have been the only reason the voters would have heard of him, his share of the vote gives a fair indication of how much support his views really have, at least in that corner of the island. It indicates the yawning gulf between his imagined ‘majority’ and the cruel truth.
Protic and his kind are obviously objectionable, but shouldn’t be a problem to any proud and confident nation. But we Welsh are not a proud and confident nation. Which explains why there are many in Wales afraid to confront him and his odious kind. Arguing that we should ‘reach out’, ‘reason with them’, ‘engage them in dialogue’. Being reasonable with people who are only going to laugh at us and interpret our reasonableness as weakness is the mistake we’ve been making for the past few centuries, and look where it’s got us – a country poorer than Bulgaria, an Assembly run by English civil servants, and our people a minority in large areas of Wales . . . If we aren’t very careful we are going to be so damn ‘reasonable’ that we shall cease to exist.
Finally, and I was hoping to avoid this, but it has to be said – Protic is a Serb. Now many of you will know that over the years I have defended the Serbs against their many detractors, but I was never blind to the atrocities committed – by all sides – in the Balkan wars. So, tell us, Jacques; would a Croat, or an Albanian, or a Bosnian Muslim, have the freedom, in Serb-controlled territory, to mouth hatred of Serbs in the way that you spew out your hatred for us Welsh?
P.S. If I have wrongly attributed to Jacques Protic a website, blog, Twitter account, ‘handle’ or anything else, I will retract without hesitation if the person to whom it does belong can satisfactorily identify himself / herself.