Llangennech; ‘Welsh’ Labour, Plaid Cymru

I’ve been away. No, not in the pokey, or on holiday, but hors de combat due to a malfunctioning computer, one that had served me well for many a year but finally gave up the ghost. After first buying myself a dud – hoping I could replace my old one on the cheap! – I eventually splashed out on a tidy machine that might accompany me to that stage of life where I can walk around in slippers all day, dishevelled and with a vacant look on my face. (‘So what’s new, Jac?’)

While I’ve been away things have turned quite nasty in Llangennech over the language controversy at the local infants school. Or rather, the nasties behind the opposition to Welsh language education were exposed for pallying up to the English Defence League and for inviting down Neil Hamilton the Ukip AM (and of course his wife-minder).

The day the Hamiltons came a-visiting. Fourth from the left is Neil Hamilton, on his right we find Michaela Beddows, and in the pink-ish trousers, we have Christine Hamilton.

Seeing as many of those opposing Welsh medium education are either Labour Party members, activists, or candidates in the May council elections the Ukip revelations didn’t do the bruvvers any favours. Action was belatedly taken after Plaid Cymru MP Jonathan Edwards wrote an open letter to UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Had he not taken this course we would probably still be waiting for the deadbeats in Cardiff to act.

Inevitably, the Labour Party hit back, using the Wasting Mule and, more surprisingly, Private Eye. The former a regular and willing accomplice against ‘them nationalists’, the latter almost certainly misinformed. The outrage that followed the disgraceful Wasting Mule piece resulted in an apology the very next day, and I’m sure someone will put the Eye straight as well.

The day following the apology, Saturday the 25th, there was another article, this one making it clear there was no connection between the school dispute and incidents of tyre slashing in the village, as the original WM article had alleged. Though that original piece had been written by a woman who is said to have ‘a problem’ with the Welsh language. Which I suppose makes her an ideal Education Editor.

While I would love to have written up the daily revelations and developments from Llangennech and beyond I know I couldn’t have done it better than Cneifiwr, who has kept us informed of every twist and turn. I suggest you start with Jacques, Jacqueline & Neil on February the 11th and bring yourself up to date from there. Also worthy of mention is Caru Cymru, which may be a new blog, it’s certainly new to me.

Instead, I shall try to look beyond Llangennech in the hope of putting events there into a wider perspective . . . with a few digressions along the way. (Humour me!)

Before moving on, it’s worth linking to this essay by Dr Huw L Williams, which makes it clear that Labour’s hostility to the Welsh language is not currently confined to Llangennech. He suspects that Labour in Cardiff fears that Welsh medium education is less likely to provide voters for the party, and this explains the reluctance to meet the demand for Welsh medium education. Or, to put it another way, kids from bog-standard schools taught by unmotivated teachers are more likely to vote Labour.

Stripped of its various interpretations and grotesque characters Llangennech reaffirms what I have always known about the Labour Party in Wales. Anyone in any doubt about my feelings could do a lot worse than read Why I Detest The ‘Welsh’ Labour Party, which I penned in March 2014.

As I argue there, to understand ‘Welsh’ Labour we need to go back a century or more, perhaps as far back as the 1880s or 1890s. Those decades when – to quote Gwyn Alf Williams – the ‘human reservoir’ of rural Wales could no longer meet the manpower demands of the industrial south, which resulted in Wales experiencing a great influx of workers from England and elsewhere, especially Ireland.

Up to this point the great majority of Welsh people, both those who remained in the rural areas and those who had left for the industrial belts, supported the Liberal Party, and this persisted into the twentieth century, but the Liberal Party was linked with the nonconformist chapels, which in turn tied in with the Welsh language. To further complicate matters there was Cymru Fydd, which pushed for some sort of Home Rule for Wales. All of which tended to make the Liberal Party unattractive to recent arrivals.

This hostility to the ‘Welsh’ Liberal Party was perfectly articulated by Alderman Robert Bird of Cardiff at the 1896 AGM of the South Wales Liberal Federation when he declared “You will find, from Swansea to Newport, a cosmopolitan population who will not submit to the domination of Welsh ideas!”. Bird of course was English, and though a prominent nonconformist he opposed his own party’s policy of Disestablishment. I often think of the arrogance implicit in Bird’s statement, and of my eight Welsh-speaking great-grandparents living in and around Swansea, and the thousands upon thousands like them who did not belong to any “cosmopolitan population”, being more closely linked with their relatives in Cardiganshire and Carmarthenshire.

Alderman Bird strikes me as yet another of those we’ve suffered throughout our history; people who know nothing about us, who don’t have our interests at heart, yet tell us what’s best for Wales.

Courtesy of National Library of Wales

The Labour Party found many converts among the English, the Irish and others simply because these found the Liberal Party to be ‘too Welsh’. Though this was never a black and white issue, many Welsh went over to Labour early on, and immigrants – though many fewer – took up the Liberal cause. For example, many of the Irish in southern Wales originally supported the pro-Home Rule Liberal Party before switching to Labour. Explained in this essay by socialist academic Dr Daryl Leeworthy.

(For some unfathomable reason I’m blocked from his Twitter account. Can you believe that! Infamy! Infamy! etc.)

From its early days this Labour Party of Englandandwales exhibited certain attitudes towards all things Welsh. At its worst it seemed that we Welsh were regarded no differently to other ‘primitives’ around the empire who had to be saved from themselves through stern paternalism. In our case, the best medicine was the English language, for many in the Labour Party agreed with the authors of the Blue Books who in 1847 had decreed that the Welsh language led us into all sorts of immorality while also impeding our educational and economic advancement.

As time passed it became convenient to pretend that almost all Welsh workers had embraced the Labour Party from the outset, but this was not true, as I recall from my own childhood. My paternal grandparents lived in Landore, and my grandfather, who’d worked at the Mannesmann tube works, was a deacon in Siloh Newydd. My grandmother’s working class credentials were equally impeccable. They supported the Liberal Party.

(‘The Mannesmann’ figured prominently in the lore of the Lower Swansea Valley when I was growing up. While working on the Evening Post Dylan Thomas covered boxing matches at the Mannesmann Hall. The plant ended its days owned by Stewarts & Lloyds.)

This was the 1950s, remember, and my grandparents’ rejection of the Labour Party was not unusual, even in a working class community like Landore. I concede that their adherence to the Liberals owed much to their age, their religious beliefs and the fact that they spoke Welsh. But that only tells us that there would have been many more like my mamgu and tadcu forty and fifty years earlier.

And I suspect that their parents might have agreed with Cymru Fydd rather than with Alderman Bird, their bollocks-spouting and self-appointed ‘representative’.

However it came about the decline of the Liberal Party and the unquestioned hegemony Labour achieved over the Welsh working class gave us the party we know today.

A ‘hybrid’ party still containing the twin strands of its early days: those who reject almost everything Welsh other than harmless, apolitical diversions such as sport, and the ‘Welsh’ element, which believes that Wales and Welshness extend beyond the rugby field.

This fault line has always resulted in ‘tensions’, but devolution, even the discussion of devolution, exposed the divide vividly. The campaign ahead of the devolution referendum in September 1997 brought out some of the worst anti-Welsh aspects of the Labour Party.

Neil Kinnock was particularly offensive, which may be understood, given his background, but his hysterical vilification of things Welsh was almost matched by his wife, who comes from a totally different, and Welsh, background. (A reminder of how the Labour Party can corrupt.) What we also see in Neil Kinnock is the ‘package’ I’ve referred to in other posts.

I think I first used the term after a visit to Pembrokeshire where I’d encountering the new county flag. When I made enquiries into its origin I saw a name with which I was familiar, a man who had campaigned against devolution, in 1979 and 1997, who had argued to ‘Bring Back Pembrokeshire!’ (because Dyfed was too Welsh) and had then helped devise a county flag to avoid flying the Ddraig Goch.

Show me someone who’s hostile to the Welsh language and I’ll show you someone who is probably opposed to devolution and almost anything likely to distinguish Wales from England – even if it will benefit Wales. In the 1979 devolution debate Neil Kinnock trotted out ridiculous stories of schoolchildren in Ynys Môn wetting themselves because they were unable to ask in Welsh to go to the toilet, coupling his contempt for the Welsh language with his opposition to devolution.

Alderman Bird was another. As a nonconformist and a Liberal he should have welcomed the Disestablishment of the Anglican Church in Wales. In rural areas poor, Liberal-supporting people were being forced to pay tithes to a church they did not attend in order to support clergymen who didn’t speak their language. And being evicted from their farms when they refused to pay the tithe. Yet Bird opposed Disestablishment, probably because he viewed it as being ‘a Welsh thing’.

A great-grandfather of my wife, a John Jones, was arrested for his part in the Llangwm riot of 1887. John was related by some convoluted route to Sir Pryce Pryce-Jones, the Newtown mail order pioneer. (We really should know more about Pryce from Llanllwchaiarn but, as he was a successful Welsh businessman who brought prosperity to his area, it serves the interests of both our colonial masters and our native leftists to ignore him.)

Courtesy of Casgliad y Werin

And so it is today in Llangennech. A gang of shouty, anti-Welsh bullies with strong links to the ‘Welsh’ Labour Party is opposing the teaching of Welsh – and don’t fall for the bullshit about ‘choice’, there are many English medium schools within easy travelling distance. Llangennech is on the outskirts of Llanelli, a large town.

For many people the most remarkable aspect of this saga is that people belonging to what many believe is still a socialist party should be so ready to mix with Ukip, and be quite open about it. Some of those opposed to Welsh language education in Llangennech have even flirted with elements further to the right. How do we explain this? I believe that as with most irrational fixations hatred for things Welsh clouds the judgement.

To understand that just follow the rantings of Jacques Protic, or someone like K Clements of Llangyfelach, who writes regularly to newspapers bemoaning the fact that we are starving and dying because of the billions spent on the Welsh language; his hatred for things Welsh is coupled with an intolerant Britishness usually confined to the extreme Right, Ibrox Park, and the Six Counties. Here he is, in a letter to the Evening Post, demanding that Ryan Giggs and Craig Bellamy be summarily executed for not singing GSTQ.

Another ‘hybrid’ party is of course Plaid Cymru. The dividing line here is between the nationalist/culturalist wing and the Green-socialists, with the latter in the ascendant for the past thirty years, to the detriment of the party, of Wales and of Welsh nationhood.

The reason Wales has suffered is because these eco-friendly leftists seem to have great difficulty focusing on Wales and Welsh issues. They’re forever trying to save the planet or else getting agitated over some issue far away over which they cannot possibly have any influence. Recent examples would the election of President Trump and the decision of the Welsh people to leave the European Union.

Many of this persuasion view their party as a regional outrider for ‘progressive’ forces elsewhere in Britain and beyond. Exemplified by this tweet by Leanne Wood I picked up on a few days ago. She’s responding to a tweet by Jeremy Corbyn, rebuking him by saying that they should “build alliances needed to defeat Tories”.

The realities are that Plaid Cymru has just three MPs in a 650-member House of Commons, so the chances of Plaid being an influential part of any anti-Tory coalition are slim. What’s worse is that here in Wales it’s not the Conservative Party that rules the roost but Labour; through its councillors, and its Third Sector, and the overpaid shysters to be found everywhere from academe to housing associations, all of them part of a system that has had almost a century to embed itself into, and corrupt, Welsh public life.

Yet Ms Wood and her ilk can blind themselves to all of this, for they view the Labour Party as fellow-socialists. Comrades in the crusade to cleanse Wales of initiative, pride and corrupting prosperity. For only through the begging bowl shall we attain the socialist nirvana of freedom from material possessions.

And of course, if we can’t afford to drive cars, or heat our homes, then Wales will be doing more than its share to save the planet, and that will please Plaid’s friends in the Green Party and the wider ‘environmental’ movement. They’ve got it all worked out!

Yes, I know, Plaid Cymru did eventually get involved in the Llangennech dispute, but they could hardly avoid it any longer seeing as the party had been targeted by the anti-Welsh crew, but even then Plaid waited until those clowns had shot themselves in the foot by inviting down the Hamiltons.

During my wee break I got to thinking about Llangennech and associated matters. I concluded that this is not really about language, or education; nor is it ideological or party political. To put it bluntly, this is a conflict of identities, a struggle that pits Welsh identity against an increasingly aggressive and intolerant English or British nationalism. (There is no meaningful distinction.)

These attacks on us and our identity come from both Left and Right, and indeed from those who otherwise regard themselves as liberal. As this recent tweet from Huw Edwards to Robert Peston reminds us. Which is why I say that ideology and party politics have no place in what must from now on be a national struggle fought on all fronts.

If we lose this struggle, then we lose our Wales; what will remain will be nothing but a hollowed-out geographical area called ‘Wales’, containing a couple of English provincial cities, a few other towns, post-industrial regions offering cheap housing for agencies relocating the rejects of England, and rural parts serving as recreation and retirement areas. In fact, this is the path Wales is already following.

But of course we’ll still have the ‘national’ rugby team, with the feathers on the shirt, so everything will be just fine.

Plaid Cymru, with its split personality, conflicting loyalties, and failure to focus on what matters, will not win this fight. Plaid Cymru won’t even join the fray for fear of upsetting the ‘liberals’ Huw Edwards talks of, and others with whom Plaid’s leadership has over the years become far too pally. Something new is needed.

This ‘something’ can only be effective if it is broad-based, national, free of ideology, and prepared to defend Wales, Welshness and Welsh interests against all threats. The first step must be trying to counter the pernicious influence of the BBC, ITV and the print media.

Which is why in future this blog may spend less time exposing lying politicians (of whom there are just too many) or crooks milking the public purse (ditto) to concentrate on the national picture and promote a nationalist message.

Stay tuned!

♦ end ♦

72 thoughts on “Llangennech; ‘Welsh’ Labour, Plaid Cymru

  1. Em

    “Plaid Cymru eventually got involved”.

    Your obsession with Plaid distracts you to such an extent that you fail to see that it is precisely a Plaid Cymru Council that is changing Llangennech from a dual stream to a Welsh medium school in the first place. Plaid Cymru has been involved since the very beginning, Jac.

    1. I’m not really obsessed with Plaid at all. My fundamental, overarching concern is Wales, and doing the best for our people. I write about Plaid because it is in a position to achieve something but does nothing. And worse, doesn’t seem to try.

      As for Llangennech, wasn’t that a decision by the county council? I’m aware of the good work done by Gwyn Hopkins, but Gary ‘Poumista’ Jones insists that a couple of Plaid community councillors support him, and the shy, retiring Michaela Beddows. Is he right?

  2. When is Bethan Jenkins going to fight a constituency seat?

    What’s needed in the Senedd is more like McEvoy with some fire in their bellies. Of course he has his faults or he wouldn’t be human. I look around me and I see my country imploding…..economically, culturally and linguistically. If we have any hope of stopping this, then Labour need to be kicked out for good along with the other London parties.

  3. Brychan

    A few years ago I found myself supporting a constituent of Leanne Wood who was facing a case in Aberdare county court on council tax arrears.

    The debt was to be recovered by RCT council but the debt had arisen from the failure of the council to previously deal with an enforcement of building regulation during a party boundary dispute where the council had failed in it’s previous obligations to act. After observing the evidence provided to the court by the RCT legal team formed mainly of a rather officious chap, who evidently only had his eye on any council tax arrears that could be recovered. A break in proceedings occurred.

    It was at this point a young member of the ‘support posse’ was about to launch a well deserved verbal tirade against the officious council employee in the lobby of the court. That would have been a bad tactic. I prevented this, and told the young tiger to observe a better method. Having looked through the history of the case I noticed that a vital item of correspondence was missing in the council submission. I pointed this out to the judge.

    The result was a reprieve of eviction and delay in recovery of debt. The officious RCT council legal representative was admonished by the judge for sloppy submissions, and was accused of ‘bordering on contempt’.

    Outside the court, I introduced myself to the officious council official as a member of Plaid Cymru that was currently campaigning in a neighbouring valley (Rhondda). I also pointed out that a Plaid administration could not possibly have confidence in his professional abilities. Especially given his current performance. I also pointed out that a Plaid administration is more likely to appoint more able staff to maximise income from revenue support grant instead of hounding vulnerable pensioners on benefits for council tax arrears.

    This official was not bullied by Plaid Cymru.
    He was mortally wounded by Plaid Cymru.

    Incidentally, the young ‘tiger’ of the Aberdare case is now a Plaid candidate in the Cynon for the forthcoming council elections. This has allowed my eye to be redirected to the chief executive of the council covering my new abode, in Carmarthenshire. This is not a threat, or bullying. It is a clear explanation to any senior officer who is employed by a local authority where Plaid Cymru forms a majority administration that they should ensure that their efforts are wholly directed at implementing elected policy. Any failings or professional shortcomings will be dealt with in a robust and effective manner.

    Every senior officer in councils across Wales (including Cardiff) should take note.

    Un funud fach…

    the sort of thing I look out for is when someone occupying a created position of ‘events manager’ at the council due to being Labour Party member posts on twitter that he is too ill to go to work. A tweet posted shortly after extolling the virtues of consuming vast amounts of alcohol at a gay nightclub in London’s soho. Here’s the Labour candidate for Mountain Ash West. His sister is the Labour candidate for Mountain Ash East.

    A Plaid Cymru council will ensure that the cash spent on the salaries of council employees using council payers hard earned cash is spent wholly for the benefit of residents. There are many superfluous ‘shoe in’ positions in Labour councils in Wales that appear to be un-justified and are created ‘jobs for the boys’. It’s not bullying to say that this money and their time, can be better spent.

    1. dafis

      Well said, or written, if we need to be precise. Often people who are less than acceptably competent hide behind the “bullying ” claim when confronted about performance. Whatever may be McEvoy’s flaws the case against him appears to have been initiated from a “competence” issue, and that frankly makes it stink of Labour opportunism.

  4. Brychan

    Chief Veterinary Officer for Wales
    The Bae,

    Dear Professor Christine Glossop,

    I have a dog called Bethan, and I was alarmed to receive a leaflet through the door this morning from the Labour Party. It relates to the forthcoming council elections.


    I was wondering if you could advise me what action should be taken if a dog has not had a shit for the last five years.


    1. dafis

      likely reply :

      Dear Mr Brychan
      Have you checked to see if your dog is still alive ?. If all is well we would be grateful if you could give us further details of the dog’s breed and history as we believe there could be considerable interest in a type of dog that doesn’t shit. You will, I’m sure, readily appreciate the value of such a high performance creature especially to those in our communities who find it difficult to get off their asses and take the dog for a walk let alone bend or crouch to pick up its droppings.
      If there is interest I might be able to introduce you to our nice Mr Skates who helps out with business matters and he might fix you up with a grant to set up a breeding venture. Nice little earner that, and when I retire from this post I would entertain an invite to become a non exec director or adviser. Do keep in touch and have a nice day. XXX Christine.

  5. dafis

    I notice that some Labour A.M is now howling at Plaid trying to get McEvoy suspended while they sort out the aftermath of today’s Kangaroo court decision regarding his choice of words when addressing some Labour puppet working at Cardiff City Council.
    Leanne says she ain’t getting rushed into anything but in the meantime she could easily tell this thick bitch from Gwent to fuck off, mind her own business and get on with addressing the stink rising from her own party ( in Wales, not the UK leadership mess ) rather than offering her lopsided insight to another party. That might serve to show these 2 bit tossers that their standing in Wales is low and going lower.

    Take advice from a rank & file member of the Labour party’s cohort in the Cynulliad ? What a fuckin’ joke !

    1. Blue

      Bethan Jenkins – McEvoy’s ex fiancée – is also calling for him to be barred from speaking at today’s conference. https://mobile.twitter.com/bethanjenkins/status/837957462124818432

      Another of his ex-fiancées, Julie Richards, has added her support to Ms Jenkins’ call by tweeting of her problems after her breakup with McEvoy.https://mobile.twitter.com/sapphofem/status/837995451513192448

      As a long time member of Plaid in Cardiff and someone who has worked with McEvoy, and knows him very well, I recognise that he is a hardworking campaigner and local councillor. However, anyone who believes that McEvoy is in politics to free Wales from the English should spend time with him. He holds a grudge against his old party, Labour, for deselecting him in 2003.

      Leanne, who is much criticised on this blog, gives a large proportion of her salary to charity. McEvoy, on the other hand, takes his AM salary and his council group leader salary. Pretty rich for a self-professed socialist.

      In my opinion McEvoy’s big mouth and bigger ego have got him into trouble – again. Labour have leapt on his gaffe and publicly humiliated him in a show trial. But the dubious nature of this legal process shouldn’t diminish the widely-held view amongst many people who have spent time with McEvoy that he is a narcissistic bully. If people reading this blog think that he would make a good leader of Plaid or even a FM then you really should spend time with McEvoy; and if you still feel the same after months, years or decades (like me) in his company then feel free to trumpet his qualities from the top of Cardiff Castle.

      1. I’m not sure anybody on this blog has ever suggested Neil McEvoy as leader of Plaid or First Minister. Neil McEvoy appeals to me because a) he gets under Labour’s skin and b) he’s a breath of fresh air in a party going nowhere . . . except up Labour’s arse.

        As for the women you quote demanding that he be castrated or worse, the Mandy Rice-Davies response obviously fits – ‘They would say that, wouldn’t they?’

        1. dafis

          These ladies have something in common – they were in volatile relationships with McEvoy. Neither of them appear to be shrinking violets, indeed BJ is known for being a touch loud and pushy herself. Ms Richards is not known to me but seems to come from a professional background so probably has, or should have, enough backbone to have told him, McE, to fuck off years ago. Which leads to a suspicion that all this muck has been bottled up until a timely opportunity to chuck it. Harrasment is becoming very fashionable these days among those whose own style reveals a capacity for dishing it out but never quite able to take it. ..

        2. D Pugh

          seems to me typical behaviour of women after a break up – bitter and twisted and ready with the allegations – move on.

          Bethan Jenkins was hopeless getting to grips with the failed Swansea social services and caught driving around in her PJ’s by the cops [speeding or some other offence as I recall]. Hardly one to whinge. and wasn’t there something of an overnight hotel stay on expenses for a pop concert.

          As for Julie Richards – who she?

          NM has been successful in getting under the property sales failures in Labour with the land/property sales queries revealing poor returns to the taxpayer. Evidently out to silence him.

          1. I think Julie Richards may be McEvoy’s ex-wife, there was certainly some relationship, and I believe they have a child. I further believe that there has been acrimony over access to the child. This issue has definitely been taken up by Plaid’s ‘feminist’ wing, for whom the facts of the case may be of no consequence.

            1. Brychan

              I think that a person (comment from Bethan Jenkins) who’s been convicted in the crown court for putting the lives of the people of Cardiff in danger by choosing to drive up from the Gabalfa interchange towards Llandaf having consumed excess alcohol is not the correct person in Plaid Cymru to make public pronouncements or make judgement on the behaviour of the elected AM for the party representing those constituents she put in danger.

              I also think that the greatest gift of support anyone can give to a woman who claims to have suffered domestic bullying (comment from Julie Richards) is self confidence and ownership over their lives, the ability to move on. To escape the “but I do love him” and “the bastard does this” oscillation of attachment. It’s important to note in cases such as this that either parent does not own the children of a former relationship. You cannot own another person, only be a temporary custodian of them.

              In both cases, the ladies concerned will not get a shoulder to cry on from me. My shoulder is only available as support and empowerment, a more constructive friendship. In the case of Bethan Jenkins, the more important role is standing up to the way in which local authority officials are slavishly hounding those at risk of eviction from the effects of the ‘bedroom tax’. Bethan is elected to perform that task in Pontardulais with the same rigour that Neil McEvoy is doing in Fairwater.

              1. I think that the real issue here is that Neil McEvoy is in danger of jeopardising the cosy relationship that exists between parties – especially between Labour and Plaid Cymru – in the Cardiff bubble. This ‘bubble’ ensures that nobody needs to work too hard representing the people or standing up for Welsh interests because the parties are in cahoots.

                It also results in corruption like this, where political insiders can use their contacts to enrich themselves. The kind of corruption we expect in London but were promised devolution would do away with. Neil McEvoy is something of a loose cannon who threatens the Cardiff bubble; ironic, really, given that he’s Kerdiff born and bred and sits on the city council.

                Talking of which, let’s not forget that he has also been consistent in opposing the Cardiff LDP, and the massive intrusion into the green belt. He has also exposed Labour’s hypocrisy on this issue by virtually calling Carwyn Jones a liar for earlier promising that the green belt was safe.

                Who’s involved in this massive programme of housebuilding? Why! it’s people like our old friend Sir Stanley Thomas, of whom I have writ here and here. Stan managed to buy himself lots of land at knockdown prices in what was one of the worst cases of corruption in the devolution era.

                And behind Stan the Pies we have the companies that will actually build the new homes, and the solicitors, and the estate agents . . . There’s a lot of money at stake.

                So looking at the bigger picture we see that Neil McEvoy has upset a lot of people and made many powerful enemies. This nonsense about ‘bullying’ is just a subterfuge because his enemies have nothing worse to pin on him. So sad to see Plaid Cymru falling into line with this execrable performance by Alun Ffred on Friday.

                Plaid really is Labour’s little helper, which may be the title of my next post. (Unless I’ve already used it!)

                1. dafis

                  Nerys Evans of Deryn is a former Plaid A.M while Ofcom at Wales and U,K levels has historically served as a nice perch for all sorts of Labour Party “alikadoos” ( as one old Irish international used to refer to people with no real purpose for being ) hence the connection to Huw Roberts who has schmoozed for decades with the likes of Ron, Rhodri and others great Labour leaders of our times. The cesspit is probably too deep for ordinary people to have clear nostrils but these types continue to stand in it as they have a platform of failed Labour initiatives to stand upon.

              2. D Pugh


                I hadn’t realised it was drink driving – in her pyjamas as well? Willing to risk driving after some pops but not for her electors?
                NM has got under their skin probably because he only joined the club last May and has already stirred things up in a way which the others have not. I wonder if any of these other AM’s would have even risked going to court to help an eviction defendant? Good for him I’m sure the person was delighted to have such help and AM’s get to know first hand what really goes on in the S Wales corrupt courts.
                If I had known about the Julie Richards domestic abuse allegation that would have told me all I needed to know – they are generally false, made for advantage and if in court made to get legal aid for the lawyer, oh and custody of any children. Judges always like or prefer legally aided plaintiffs/defendants.

                1. Brychan

                  I understand that the Bethan Jenkins arrest was the result of a tip-off. She had attended a demonstration in Newport that day, and subsequently consumed excess alcohol at a residential premises in Cardiff with personal acquaintances. I understand the police stop was (a) concern for her welfare, and (b) suspected drink driving. The police were acting on information received.

                  The correct course of action if you are in the presence of a person who has consumed excess alcohol is to confiscate the car keys to prevent the crime occurring in the first place. To allow the person to put themselves (and others) in danger and subsequently ‘dob-them-in’ suggests other motives, but it is the correct course of action once a drunk has ventured onto the road.

        1. Blue

          Threatening a council employee with “reorganisation”. I’m no feminist, I can’t stand liberal, progressive politics but I have first hand experience of Neil McEvoy and he has many flaws. I do, too, but I am not a public figure being paid to represent voters.

          1. How, exactly, does one ‘threaten’ a person with “re-organisation”. Did he he threaten to ‘reorganise’ her face? Come on, you don’t like Neil McEvoy, but get real about a trivial incident (if it happened) and a political witch-hunt.

            1. dafis

              Sounds like there’s an excessive degree of sensitivity in the good lady’s reaction to McEvoy’s statement.
              When confronted by an imbecilic bureaucrat it’s perfectly legitimate to respond along the lines of ” you wait till I get my teeth into this place, you fuckin’ lot won’t get away with this shit, you’ll either shape up or ship out”. Though in my prime I would have probably failed to be that polite !
              Explains why I never bothered much with the creepy bureaucracy that invades our lives and takes umbrage when they meet a hostile response.

      2. Red Flag

        McEvoy it is true is a gob-shite who uses Plaid as a cover to allow him to rottweiler Labour Wales for personal reasons. That said, he is bloody entertaining and fearless and not in the slightest bothered about publicly ruffling the status quo. He also serves Plaid in that while people are being entertained by him they don’t really pay much attention to the utterly dire and pointless politicians Plaid actually are in reality.

        Now before anyone has a go at me, I am actually a Plaid member and voter and campaigner come election times. HOWEVER like a sizeable amount of Plaid voters (and members) round here ( I reckon in this constituency 30% plus) I voted Leave – and would again without hesitation. And again, like a sizeable amount of Plaid voters (and members) round here, we only wave their banner because they are the only ‘independence’ party in town – not because we think they are actually any use (which they aren’t – and personally I think they would run a mile from independence if push came to shove).

        Most of the Plaid supporters I know are either ‘conservative’ or ‘hard left’ whereas Plaid itself is a cheap parochial version of the Liberal Democrats.

        1. Blue

          You are correct about McEvoy’s motivations.

          Your confession is exactly how I feel about Plaid: I’ve been a member and activist for years and I voted Leave too. My difference to your situation is that I’m in the same constituency as McEvoy and although I initially supported him I am one of many, many people in Cardiff West that he has treated badly, despite my loyalty. Outside of his staff and family there are maybe three or four long-term members in Cardiff West who grudgingly support him; all of his “supporters” are either very new members or merely Plaid voters.

          His “Clwb y Ddinas” scheme to pay himself a grand a month to campaign for the Cardiff West assembly seat was steamrollered through despite most voting members being quietly opposed. He has a staff member – an ex-Green – who is particularly “forceful” and a number of faithful lapdogs (family members, partner and staff) who can swing any vote his way. Of course, most Cardiff West members were pleased to finally have an AM from the locality but many are horrified by McEvoy’s attitude and behaviour.

          About 100 Cardiff West members (including me) wrote to Rhuanedd Richards in late 2011 to support McEvoy when he was suspended following his “Women’s Aid akin to child abuse” tweet (which, no matter how truthful was very ill-advised).

          I certainly will not be writing in support of McEvoy if he is suspended again

          1. The problem I have with what you say is the reference to ‘a silent majority’, because this is a tactic used by many people to disguise the fact that there is little or no support for what they say. What evidence do you have for your allegations?

            1. Blue

              I have backed McEvoy since he joined Plaid from Labour; I have put my own reputation on the line to support him. Apart from Keith Parry (who is a decent man), and McEvoy’s staff and family, I can’t think of one long-term (more than three years) member of Plaid in Cardiff West who is willing to publicly support him on a forum such as this. There are quite a few people on Facebook and Twitter who are lending their support but these aren’t members in Cardiff West, where Plaid has around 200 members.

              Spend some time with him and draw your own conclusions. I wish that I could publically challenge him but to be honest he scares me.

              1. This is your most worrying contribution yet. First off, I know Keith Parry, we go back a long time, and if he supports McEvoy, then that’s a plus in my book. Now you say that he scares you, which puts a different complexion on it. And if that is the case, why are you commenting here, you must know that he reads this blog, and could probably identify you?

                And if there around 200 Plaid members in Cardiff West I don’t understand how, with the meagre support you allege, he got selected as candidate. (Which is the question I now see Dafis asking.)

            2. dafis

              The problem I have with all that is that the ballot remains secret – therefore if so many people find McEvoy not to their liking how did he conjure a majority ? That question, by the way, is not an invite for some imaginative Labour twat to come on here and accuse the man of ballot rigging ! as we all know that in other parts of the U.K Labour have mastered the dark arts in that subject area.

    2. The way Plaid gives Labour an easy ride time after time is part of the reason Labour is still top dog.

      Here’s an example I ran across last night, the blog of Mabon ap Gwynfor, who stood for Plaid in 2015 in Clwyd South. Now I’ve met Mabon a couple of times, and he’s a nice boy, but . . .

      In this piece about some bigot in Glyn Ceiriog he draws parallels with Llangennech but is still prepared to give this sod the benefit of the doubt because he’s “solidly left of centre”. How can you draw a parallel with Llangennech and fail to grasp the real message – anti-Welsh bigotry comes from across the political spectrum, it’s one of the few issues that can unite right and left in Wales.

      As I’ve said in these comments, it looks as if Leanne Wood only got interested in Llangennech when Ukip showed up. As long as it was the fellow-socialists (as she imagines them) in Labour slagging of the language she was prepared to stand back.

      And now we see the same thing with Neil McEvoy. He said something to someone a couple of years ago, a Labour politician got to hear of it and forced the woman to make a complaint. Now Plaid is supporting Labour, accepting the decision of a kangaroo court, to ostracise one of its most effective AMs.

      Alun Ffred’s despicable performance last night summed it up, ‘We’re very much against bullying – except when it’s Labour bullying’. And today the ‘feminists’ (and yes, that’s a euphemism) have got in on the act.

      Plaid Cymru either needs a revolution from within or else be destroyed from without, because with its current attitudes and leadership it is of more use to England than to Wales.

      Plaid Cymru makes the Fabians look like wild-eyed revolutionaries.

  6. Stan

    It’s really good to see your blog back again, Jac. And once again, brimming with so much Welsh history in the blog and comments that I feel a right ignoramus. Thank you to all. I am really looking forward to seeing the new direction you promise us in future posts but please, please do not deny the likes of me my fix on those tales of corruption and skulduggery in the world of “Welsh” Labour and the ever-thirsty Third Sector that suck on their teats. Just drop in the odd report of everyday life in Carolyn Harris’ office – never a dull day there – to keep our spirits up.

    If I could refer back to the comments of Cantre’r Gwaelod, I was very encouraged to see reference to people making lifestyle choices to return to Wales and bring up kids – not just to come home to die. It kind of echoes things I’ve picked up on in my Anglo-Welsh world here in NPT, for want of a better description. The WM education story played out in Llangennech has exercised minds in my own circle of friends and acquaintances and I’ve been really surprised at the number of people I would have thought would have fully backed the stance of Michaela and crew – but instead have backed the Council decision to the hilt. Maybe large oaks can grow from small acorns after all – but like a mighty oak will take time.

    But there seems to be a consensus among respondents on this blog that it’s the Labour Party that is the first and main obstacle in the way of Wales moving forward. I’d add my name to that list. Whether Plaid Cymru are up to the Herculean task of cleaning out those Augean stables – all that Donkey shit left after years of Labour misrule and corruption – I just hope I can live long enough to see it.

  7. Vlad the inhaler

    One of the curious things about this blog is Jac’s penchant for criticising every political party in Wales. If you listened to Jac you wouldn’t vote for any of them. Which just allows Labour to remain in office.
    If you want to remove the Labour death hold on Wales then you must support Plaid.
    There is no other party which is capable of unseating Labour.
    No new nationalist party is going to spring forth to do the job.
    Even if we saw the birth of a second nationalist party it would split the vote and let Labour in again.
    Plaid bashing might make for good copy, but it doesn’t help achieve what is supposed to be one of the primary aims of the blog.
    Getting Labour out of office will be a major turning point. It won’t solve all our problems but it would be a first step towards a new future.

    1. Yes, getting rid of Labour is the priority, but Plaid as it presently operates, and under the current leadership, is unlikely to achieve that. In fact, it’s more likely to support Labour in a coalition against them wicked Tories.

      What I would like is to awaken Welsh people so that they say ‘Enough!’, whether it’s to the impoverishment of our people, the prostitution of our homeland through uncontrolled tourism, the colonisation, the turning of Wales into Cardiffshire and lots of other things wrong with Wales in 2017. Achieve that and people will inevitably start rejecting Labour, whether Plaid Cymru is involved or not.

    2. Big Gee

      I don’t think it’s a ‘curiosity’ Vlad – it’s a reality. They are all hopelessly inadequate – including Plaid – who, under the current leadership, are just a Welsh flavoured hologram of Labour – sorry to say it – nice girl as Leanne is. I was however encouraged by her comments today about Cardiff-cenricism and the way anything above the M4 is viewed as ‘North Wales’ and therefore a desert that’s out of sight and out of mind! She’s been reading Jac’s blog perhaps?

      This myth about splitting votes is a nonsense. I go back to the early noughties, when Llais Ceredigion put up candidates to help topple the Independents/closet Tory/old fashioned Lib-Dem regime on the council in Ceredigion. Plaid’s response “Oh my God! They’re going to split Plaid’s vote” and they then ganged up with the Independents to attack us, even though we offered them the deal of not putting Llais. Ceredigion candidates up in wards that had a Plaid candidate, what short-sighted twats. Split the vote – sheer bullshit and a failure in the ability to think laterally. Hasn’t anyone heard of coalitions? Far better to have a coalition of hard core nationalists gang up with Plaid to defeat Labour, than have a Plaid party that curls it’s tail around Labour’s legs and purrs with contentment – keeping all other fledgling nationalist parties at bay. THAT’S the way to keep Labour here for ever.

  8. Cantre'r Gwaelod

    I understand this isn’t the situation in most parts of Wales, but on a positive note… I know of many couples who have moved back to Caernarfon recently to bring up their families. These are well educated, professional people who moved to London / Cardiff 10 years ago. I also know of 3 Welsh speaking siblings who are preparing to move back to the north west to raise their families (not together might I add!!) from Cardiff. 2 of their partners from s Wales and one from Essex. Also have a friend that’s moving from London to Cardiff this month – again so his kids can have WM education. Number of reasons, but family support, being outdoors with kids and ‘hiraeth’ appear to be main ones.

    I’ve been thinking about this for quite some time and I wonder exactly how many people / couples plan on moving back..? The free-for-all University generation, if you like. What kind of effect could this have in the next 30 years..

    1. I hope you’re right, but if it is happening then it’s in spite of the ‘Welsh’ Government not because of it.

    2. dafis

      10, maybe 15 years ago, there was a short lived initiative aimed at supporting returning exiles to set up businesses or to join an existing small business mainly focused on West, Mid and North Wales. I vaguely recall it getting started but never saw much publicity for its outcomes, which sadly suggests that it didn’t score many goals ( or got strangled early in case it got too good at its task ! )

  9. Keith Parry

    W H Davis accent is like a south Gwent Valleys accent. The Newport accent today is more CARRDIFF than the accent in Cardiff.

  10. Keith Parry

    Glad to see you have been let out again. What is to be done? I will be howled at for saying discontented nationalists should join Plaid and change it, but they should! Yes Cymru offers a way forward. But a new nationalist party,is that on the cards?

  11. Cadno Coch

    That massive wave of immigration between 1890 and 1910 seems to have altered our nation forever and we’ve been shackled to the Labour Party ever since.

    I often dream of what might have been. Even our south-eastern cities had a strong sense of identity in the mid/late 19th century.

    Listen to this recording of W.H Davies, who grew up in Newport during the 1870s. The local accent has changed a lot since then…

  12. Myfanwy

    Brexit has certainly revealed and unleashed a very nasty and ignorant form of ‘Brit’ Nationalism, which just loves to bash the Welsh. The most disturbing aspect of all, is seeing Welsh people, such as those campaigning at LLangennech, jumping on board the UKIP bus to drive a knife into their own identity. Neil Hamilton and his Mrs of all people, from the ultra right Monday Day Club/ George Kennedy Young (Dickens dossier) dodgy politics, to the corrupt, cash for questions fame. Why would they rather associate with that particular form of very privileged, English politics, it has to be a form of Stockholm syndrome, it is difficult to interpret in any other way?

    Similarly, Labour and the likes of Neil Kinnock spouting that nonsense about children wetting themselves because of the pressure of learning Welsh, more the pity that he wasn’t worried about the real threat to children within his own party, with the likes of Lord Janner and the obsequious royalist, Lord Tonypandy among many others! Why have we sold out to such charlatans? As you say Jac, it’s more important than ever for us all to focus on what we desperately need to change.

    Going back to the LLangennech debacle, this deliberately, misguiding article in the Daily Mail, incites a further outpouring of ignorant, Welsh hating bile in the comments section, by it’s UKIP readers, which again include many people who describe themselves as ‘Welsh’, it’s complete madness!

    Nothing has changed over the centuries, as many people celebrate Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Sant today, it seems very relevant to reflect on this Wiki entry and ask ourselves why we still put up with it?

    ‘The 17th-century diarist Samuel Pepys noted how Welsh celebrations in London for Saint David’s Day would spark wider counter-celebrations amongst their English neighbours: life-sized effigies of Welshmen were symbolically lynched,[9] and by the 18th century the custom had arisen of confectioners producing “taffies”—gingerbread figures baked in the shape of a Welshman riding a goat—on Saint David’s Day.[10]’.

  13. The Earthshaker

    Good to have you back, you and you readers might be interested in these new welsh media initiatives

    A new online English language Welsh news site Nation.cymru former journalist and Bangor Uni lecture Ifan Morgan Jones is behind it. He’s looking for contributors and there also a crowdfunding website – all the details of how to get involved are on this link https://www.gofundme.com/set-up-costs-for-nationcymru

    Another is Desolation Radio, it a weekly English language radio podcast on welsh politics run by two young welsh academics https://soundcloud.com/desolationradio they’re also on iTunes

    They done 16 post cast so far on everything from history of welsh devolution, the welsh economy and why Wales is so poor, welsh language and the tensions around it (blue books etc), the rise of UKIP in Wales, the Wales Bill shambles, Cardiff’s gentrification and the latest on policing an justice – they do go off on tangents, but their well worth listening to and sharing.

    They’re on Twitter https://twitter.com/desolationwales?lang=en and Facebook if you want to follow them https://en-gb.facebook.com/desolationradio/

    The YES CYMRU groups are spreading as well but they need volunteers http://yes.cymru/ they are trying to reach out and spread the word. All the groups are all on social media do a search for them Newport, Rhondda, Caernarfon, Vale of GLamorgan, Ynys Mon etc.

    Cardiff and Swansea https://twitter.com/YesAbertawe branches seem the most active, get in touch if you’re interested the next Yes Cymru Cardiff meeting is tomorrow at 7.30pm in Trade Street Cardiff, details on their twitter account https://twitter.com/YesCaerdydd

    One things you could do to help spread the word in a weekly list of the best welsh politics blog posts from the lies of Oggy Bloggy Ogwr, John Dixon (Borthlas) etc – have a think about it.

    Keep up the good work Wales needs you

    1. I shall put the word out.

      I’ve got a primitive sort of bloglist in my sidebar, but I can’t find one that updates to show the most recent posts. Any ideas?

      1. The Earthshaker

        thanks for sharing, they maybe not be everyone’s cup of tea, but they’re all we’ve got at the moment and we need to support them.

        I’ll have a think on the blog lists, you could ask your readers to send you any interesting/relevant posts on welsh politics and independence (like the Cardiff welsh school fight) and publish them on a weekly/fortnightly (depends how many you get), but leave it with me.

        While i remember YES CYMRU has a newsletter with news on the campaign groups that you get if you join and there’s another pro welsh indy site Bella Gwalia https://bellagwalia.org/ they’re on Twitter https://twitter.com/bellagwalia?lang=no

  14. Martin

    Think Leanne Wood raised it with First Minister and worked with Jonathan Edwards. Was on BBC with her attacking Carwyn on it. The decision to turn Llangennech into Welsh medium was by a Plaid Cymru cabinet member of a Plaid Cymru-led council. Plaid Cymru has been all over this.

      1. Martin

        I meant it in a good way Jac. Gareth Jones from Caerfyrddin is the Plaid Education Member to have pushed this through (following Welsh policy unlike Labour locally), Jonathan Edwards is a socialist and proud Welsh speaking Plaid MP, and Leanne Wood questioned First Minister on it and got it on the BBC. Gwyneth and Gwyn locally are very proud Plaid Cymru councillors in Llangennech and have put their necks on the line over this decision, fully supported by Leanne and Jonathan. I’m a Plaid man. I am proud of the party on this. No other party can be trusted to consistently support Welsh education which is my top personal issue.

        1. Maybe I got the wrong end of the stick, misunderstood what you were trying to say. If so, I apologise.

          I agree with your final sentence, but I still think that Plaid at the top level was a bit slow to get involved. If I wanted to be cynical – moi! – I could suggest that it was the intervention of Ukip (and the EDL link) that motivated Leanne Wood, which might then suggest a socialist motive.

          1. Martin

            That’s a good point, it did seem to be the UKIP link Plaid went after. Though the UKIP link is also what gave the story legs in the media.

            Question is, have enough residents fallen for Labour and Hamilton’s poison on this?

    1. Y Cneifiwr

      Martin, you’re half right.

      It was Labour that were in charge when the council devised and approved the county’s Welsh in Education Strategic Plan (WESP) which, among other things, committed the council to phasing out its dual stream schools. The plan was approved unanimously by all of the relevant organs of the council – the education scrutiny committee, executive board and full council – all while Labour was in charge.

      In November 2015 (with Plaid and the Indies now in charge) the council’s education committee met to set Llangennech on the path. The vote was unanimous. Only one Labour member turned up, two others didn’t bother.

      Among those who voted for the WESP and in favour of phasing out dual stream schools were Jeff Edmunds and Tegwen Devichand, leader and deputy leader of the Labour group respectively. They voted both as councillors in full council and as members of the executive (cabinet).

      Devichand was one of the first to turn up outside the school gates protesting with the strange Anglican priest who has now allegedly become a Russian orthodox monk. Edmunds also underwent a conversion and is now opposed to what he previously endorsed, along with the former Labour leader, Kevin Madge.

      Not only that, but Labour has been telling people that Plaid is trying to drive English speaking children out of the village.

      As lying hypocrisy goes, this is as rank as it gets.

  15. ffranc_sais

    The tithe was an invidious imposition on non-Anglican communities – but perhaps someone more learned than myself could explain the tithe wars.

  16. Eliot

    This blog makes the mistake of lending its support to anti fascism whilst demonising people moving within the same nation state, ie from urban England to Wales. I’ve lived in Gwynedd for 10 years and suspect my grasp of Cymraeg is better than the authors who lets it be known he’s lived in Gwynedd for over 30 years.

    If this blog and its followers are truly “anti fascist” then it needs to address anomaly of throwing mud those such as UKIP who wish to stem the flow of overseas foreigners and right wing Welsh nationalists who want to stem the flow of British people moving within their nation state. I speak as a centre left paid up member of Plaid.

    1. This blog has never set out to be ‘anti-fascist’, I leave that to the Left, and the extreme Left, which I often think needs ‘fascists’ to justify itself.

      I find it very strange that if you are what you purport to be – a member of Plaid Cymru – you can use a term like nation state to refer to Englandandwales, or the UK. I would expect a Plaid member to see this Union as a collection of nations.

      I also find it strange that you are unable to see the difference between a few million people moving to a ‘nation state’ of over sixty million people and having no lasting effect and hundreds of thousands of English swamping rural areas of Wales, to the extent that Welsh people become a minority in their own country.

      I think you’re either very confused or a troll. Either way, sort yourself out before you come back here.

      1. Eliot

        Not going to use insults but Great Britain/UK is a nation state so I frame my comments in those terms, people moving from Telford to Tywyn have contributed to the same pot all their lives unlike someone moving from overseas.

        The reason I left Labour for Plaid is because under Wigley it became a centre left, less insular civic nationalist party that welcomes all.

        You’re right about Wales needing a new nationalist party because there’s still a wing of Plaid skulking in the background and it needs a home apart from this blog to openly air its views.

        1. No insults, because you’re exposing your confusion again in this comment.

          There is no ‘same pot’. This is the kind of misleading idea that says Cross Rail, HS2, another runway for Heathrow are ‘national projects’ from which we all benefit. Yes, they’re paid for from the ‘same pot’, but without compensation for countries and regions that will see no benefit these areas end up subsidising those areas that do benefit. And as these tend to be the more prosperous areas of England it further imbalances the economy of your ‘nation state’.

          Similarly, if large numbers of middle-aged and elderly people move to certain areas of Wales, and towns like Tywyn, it will put a strain on the NHS and other services, a strain that will not be recognised or compensated by the central government of your ‘nation state’ using your fallacious ‘same pot’ argument. It’s like HS2 but in reverse, in this case it’s used to disadvantage certain areas.

          As for Dafydd Wigley, most people I know regarded him as the ‘nationalist’ alternative to Dafydd El and others. This probably explains why Plaid did so well under his leadership in the 1999 Assembly elections, and why he had to be removed.

        2. dafis

          Eliot – Great Britain/U.K is not a nation state but a state of many nations, of which the English is dominant. If you choose to ignore or fail to grasp that reality then any consideration thereafter of the modern day predicament of Wales is likely to be incomplete and erroneous.

          Jac – Welcome back into action. I can empathise with your recent experiences as I too have been well and truly run ragged by a defective machine which has now been reactivated after 3 major organ replacements/transplants and appears fit for resumption of active service. I suspect we’re in for some busy times in 2017 and beyond, so I hope that this piece of kit will be up to it.

          1. It’s good to be back, Dafis. I think the machine I’ve bought is up to my needs, maybe more than I need, 3TB, etc. It’s working well but I’m still trying to retrieve all the stuff I’ve lost. I know it’s out there somewhere . . .

  17. Wynne

    Welcome back Jac. Wales was beginning to fall apart in your absence. Nobody to hold Carwyn and his bunch of merry men to account, or should that be merry persons in this age of political correctness. Glad you returned the lump hammer to the shed and resisted the temptation to inflict GBH on said machine ! Now back to the important work of investigative journalism and exposing rascals and scoundrels who abuse public funds.

  18. Welcome back Jac. According to the Labour Party, nationalism (of the Scots variety at least) is racist. Their goose north of the Border is now well and truly cooked. The English cling desperately to ‘Britishness’/Prydeindod/Unionism’ as the last shred of Empire, fearing to stand naked and alone as “just another middling European country”. In all probability one way or another Wales will be the Empire’s last stand. The Welsh were never lacking in ingenuity so I honestly hope you can find a creative route out of the present muddle.

  19. sibrydionmawr

    Welcome back Jac, and I hope the new ‘puter is behaving itself. I too have been following the Llangennech issue with some interest for a while now, as I know the area is still quite strongly Welsh speaking, by South Wales standards, and had always had a suspicion that this was one of those issues that comes up every now and then in Wales when it comes to the issue of Welsh medium education. I know that the area has been of some concern to those concerned over the future of the language, even to the point where the old Welsh Language Board focussed on the area with a scheme to persuade local Welsh speaking parents to pass on the language to their children. The language was, and quite possibly still is, perceived as being backward, and in having no future, and that English is the language for getting on in the world…

    Which brings me to your analysis of the lead up to this presemt situation. I feel you have simplified things a little too much, as it wasn’t only the ‘nasty’ Labour Party preaching anti-Welsh sentiment, Liberal, and Welsh speaking community leaders were likewise guilty of promoting English over Welsh, including that great Welsh capitalist, David Davies, Llandinam, who on more than one occasion faintly praised Welsh before going on to emphasise that parents must ensure their children learn English, for that is the language of progress. He may not have gone as far as demanding the Welsh to ‘speak English like gentlemen’ but his sentimetns weren’t far away from that. It also ignores that there were some attempts to spread the word of socialism through the medium of Welsh, thus there was the newspaper ‘Tarian y Gweithwyr’.

    It’s also imprtant to remember the period of around 1890 was when compulsory education (in English) had created the first generation of state schoooled individuals, a ready market for the new popular ‘working class’ press in the shape of such publications as the Daily Mail and Tit-Bits, against which the Chapel dominated Welsh language media couldn’t really compete with in terms of appeal, it was also the period where the British Empire was at it’s apex, and as you pointed out, from 1860 onwards, South East Wales was subject to mass immigration from England and elsewhere on a previously unprecendented scale. However, it was in 1891 that the highest ever number of Welsh speakers was recorded, at something like 970.000.

    You also make no mention of the haemmorage of Welsh people during the 1930s when there was mass emigration from Wales, mainly of the younger people of child bearing age, who were ‘not dead, but gone to Slough’ (to my great shame I do not remember the name of the poet that penned that line), numbering some 350,000 – basically a whole generation of younger people, many fo whom were Welsh speaking.

    So, whilst the Labour Party certainly didn’t help matters, (and as you say, the language issue is something that has divided that party over the years, and still does). However, it’s not just the Labour Party that is responsible for the decline of the Welsh language, as much of the damage had already been done a long time before the Labour Party even existed, let alone had any real power, with the election of Keir Hardy in 1900. Even in 1914 there were only 5 Labour MPs out of 34 in total. In many areas the switch from Liberal to Labour was more or less forced on working peopel as the Liberal Party itself was mostly Lib-Lab, and the increasing awareness that the interests of the bosses and those of the workers were not the same, but diametrically opposed. The Liberals were as responsible for the undermining of ‘Welshness’ as the Labour Party were repsonsible for rejecting in a misplaced understanding of ‘internationalism’ as it is today, along with much of the rest of the Left. It also has to be remembered that the Liberal Party was not only strong in Wales amongst working people at this time, but also in England too. But that in Wales at least it had many amonsgt it’s ranks that would have been Tories in England. Cymru Fydd was let down, not jsut by Alderman Bird, but by one of it’s leading lights, a certain David Lloyd George, who once he realised that the highest political positon in, not just Wales or Britain, but the whole British Empire, was within his grasp. He dropped Wales like the proverbial hot potato.

    I agree completely with your analysis of Welsh Labour’s own internal ambiguity over the language, and know for a fact that many of the Labour ‘crachach’ well into the 1980s were Welsh speaking, ( I was student Academic Chairperson for a period of my time at Coleg Harlech, so I met some of them at college executive meetings which I attended), and often equally odious in two languages! Give a Labour member a peerage and it tends to go to their heads somewhat!

    I’m not so sure that at a British level at least the Labour Party was that bothered about Welsh as a langiuage, but like many other avowed ‘internationalist’ movements at the time, (and still now) their interpretation was somewhat bogus and unexamined. It’s clear the mainstream Left still don’t have a clue about nationalism, and they still peddle the same old cliches about people who belive in a positive sense of national identity, such as in this article from the Guardian online:


    And basically this is what is at base with the shitstorm at Llangennech, it is still this issue of, on the one hand, a lack of national self-confidence, and on the other, a Labour Party still wed to antdilivian ideas about internationalism, which merely translates to imperialism, and, when the gloves are off, show this with a willingness to ally themselves with UKIP and the likes of EDL, as I believe one or two of the Llanennech Labour lot have.

    I’m not sure how you can have a national movement without ideology, as the whole idea of the nation itself is ideology. I don’t think the problem is ideology per se, but that some of the ideology, or rather the lack of any coherent ideology within Plaid Cymru is the biggest problem we have. I can remember thinking way back in the early 1980s, just after I’d moved back to Wales beginning to question whether Plaid Cymru was just trying too hard to be all things to all comers, and that Gwynfor Evans, lovely man that he was, was just that little bit too naively optimistic about the influx of English immigrants. His message was basically ‘be nice and try and persuade these new arrivals to respect us’. Obviously that’s a bit of a non-starter, and even the young and optimisitc me realised that at the time, as I was brought up well versed in how to be a little imperialist (which I rejected, obviously!) with a long line of forbears who’d gone around bashing in the heads of various natives aroound the empire. I’d also spent most of my childhood in Europe, where I soon realised that whilst there was widespread gratitude towards Britain for it’s part in their liberation from Nazi rule, there was also a resentment towards the sense of superiority and entitlement that is apparent with many Brits. There was no real hostility, more a sense of pity, that somehow Brits were a bit of a quixotic anachronsim. As an antidote to Jac’s seeming belief that only the Welsh centre-right has a handle on imperialism, here’s an interesting post from a (predominantly) Welsh language anarchist website:


    It’s about time that those who really care about the future of Wales and the Welsh language took a stand, and perhaps we now need a movement that will campaign to eradicate visible bilingualism in the more Welsh speaking areas, as having English on the signs undermines Welsh. And, as my late brother inlaw was fond of saying, ‘They don’t have Welsh on the road signs in England, so why should we have English on ours?’ We need a movement that reimagines Wales in something like the way the Scandinavian nations reimagined themselves in the 1930s and 1940s, emerging from the 20th century as some of the most affluent countries with some of the highest standards of living in the world – a century they started with some of the worst grinding poverty anywhere in the world. Indeed, as anyone who has read Dr D J Davies’ ‘Towards Welsh Freedom’ will know, Scandinavian ideas once had some considerable influence on the economic thinking of our national party. It’s a shame they still don’t. In my view – though I doubt Jac would agree, as they are mostly socialist, with an accent on worker, or at least popular control of industry!

    1. As ever, some excellent points. Here’s a quick response before I go to bed.

      Yes, of course there were other pressures to Anglicise over the centuries, and I could have mentioned David Davies, but the piece was about Llangennech and the Labour Party.

      The highest number of Welsh speakers ever may have been recorded in 1891 but what was it as a percentage of the population? That figure can be explained by the latest wave of immigrants yet to make their mark and the fact that the period still saw large and very large families. It was downhill from there on.

      You seem to doubt that there can be a national movement without ideology. As I’ve said before, in the area where I live, southern Meirionnydd, the Welsh are now in a minority. There are other areas like this, and the national trend is in this direction. There can only be one outcome from this trend. To oppose this colonisation, to say it’s destructive and must be curbed, needs no ideology at all.

      1. Brychan

        There is the issue of colonialism you raise often in your blog.
        It relates to housing, education (includes language) and employment.

        Colonialism works by native out-migration as well as plantation.
        It steals the brightest and the best away from the occupied territory.

        Go to the Kent coalfield, the factories of Coventry, the canning factories of the Thames valley, or even the steelworks of Pittsburgh (or Donesk) and you find the Jones’s the Roberts, the Lewis and the Williams. All which would have possessed the ability to speak Welsh or have parentage thereof.

        This has always been a drain of national identity, and continues to this day.

        It is not good enough to provide a Welsh medium school in Llangennech, if the children of that school are eventually faced with the dilemma choosing between the minimum wage stuffing pillows at a glamping site or moving away to England to put their education to prosperous use.

        Equal pay is often seen as a ‘socialist issue’ but if you’re Welsh and just landed a job at the new prison near Wrexham, you have to move to England get a pay rise.

        I would also like to point out that the effect of ‘English and Irish’ incomers effect on the Welsh language in the South Wales coalfield is over emphasised.

        At the peak of coal production in 1911 the Rhondda census found that over half of the population of Rhondda Urban District was Welsh speaking.

        What happened?
        70% (1901) to 55% (1911) due to influx (young families).
        55% (1911) to 12% (1951) due to exodus (young families).

        It only ‘bottomed out’ in the 1950s due to Welsh medium education with the establishment of Ysgol Gymraeg Ynyswen (1950) and then others. However, the key to avoiding the ‘tipping point’ is to stem outward migration.

        In Rhondda in the 1930s, the Welsh speaking families moved away to raise children. The same process is happening in Gwynedd, Môn and Ceredigion now.

        English speaking grannies only retire to Y Fro Gymraeg to die.
        Build coffins for your guests and schools for your children.

        1. I agree with your point about out-migration, but the problem we have here may not be colonialist in nature, unless we consider that Cardiff is enriching itself at the expense of other parts of the country. (And there is a case to be made.) We must assume that the ‘Welsh’ government has the power to reverse this trend by moving jobs out of Cardiff, but it refuses to so. When it tries – as it did recently with the tax office – it got no further than Treforest, which confirmed for many people that devolution is for the benefit of Cardiff and places within easy travelling distance.

          Alternatively, and if as I regularly argue, decisions in Wales are made by civil servants taking orders from London, then it might serve the colonialist agenda to have everything concentrated in one city within easy distance of London.

    2. Myfanwy

      I totally agree with you sibrydionmawr, that we need a ‘movement that re-imagines Wales’. The Scandinavian system you discuss is very desirable, it came about because of the very enlightened and socially inclusive generation of the 1960s and 70s. The reason the Scandinavians were able to achieve such a well functioning social system, was precisely because they had the autonomy to achieve their goals and they have an innate sense of pride in their National identity, which is not burdened with the dreadful legacy of hundreds of years of imperial servitude and insidious social divisions.

      Wales is constrained by it’s shackles to the Westminster establishment, before we can re-imagine ourselves we have to break free. The British establishment has only ever cared about it’s own, they have always treated their own working classes with utter contempt, so what chance has Wales? The whole system is rigged that even if our children attain a good education, chances are they will join the aspirational system which looks up to this, corrupt establishment. How do you stem the flow of Welsh speakers like my Grandfather from Merthyr, who end up as joining the establishment system, that does nothing for Wales?

      The relative size of population of Wales does make it suitable for a social system similar to that of Scandinavian countries. It could be argued that one of the reasons why the British establishment has survived for so long, is because of the huge population size of England, coupled with a class system which allows the establishment to be less accountable to it’s population as a whole. It could be further argued that constant immigration adds to this lack of accountability and drives down the wages of the already struggling working classes, which inevitably tightens the establishment’s stranglehold. Question is how do we break free to re-imagine ourselves?

      1. sibrydionmawr

        I’m not convinced that breaking free is a pre-requisite to re-imagining ourselves, but rather a process we need to put in train prior to breaking free, otherwise we run a serious risk of having no Wales left to re-imagine!

        We do have devolution. I know that is not enough, and that it hasn’t delivered anything like enough, but who exactly is responsible for that? We could blame our politicians, (with considerable justification) but ultimately it is us, ourselves who need to shoulder the blame for the shambles that is our government.

        If a movement for change, which would need to be quite broad based, got off the ground, (perhaps with a basic rule that politics and religion are left at the door – to avoid a movement being hijacked) politicians would soon sit up and take note, especially if it was ‘non-political’ and therefore ‘easy’ to ally to.

        In terms of stemming the flood of young Welsh speaking people from Wales, I think it’s simply a case of creating a far more diverse economy. To achieve that isn’t easy, I know, but yet again I think it’s down to people to demand better from the politicians. Why is it that broadband internet is to abysmally poor in most of rural Wales? I know the WAG has dabbled a bit at the edges, but why hasn’t it invested properly in a connected Wales? It’s not as if it would even have to connect every minute village and hamlet, as that could be left to not-for-profit internet providers operating like B4RN does in the North Lancashire/South Cumbria/North Yorkshire area. Why isn’t the WAG actively involved in prioritising home grown enterprise rather than inward investment which isn’t really for long term? These are all things that could be achieved without breaking free, but none the less would be a great start along the path to break free.

        1. I have rarely agreed with any comment as much as I agree with this. Especially the opening paragraph. Nothing will happen, nothing will change, until enough people say, ‘This is isn’t working’ we need to re-think how, and in whose interests, Wales is run’.

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