As I’m going away for a few days I didn’t want to leave an old story on my front page, so here’s a little something to tide you over until I return.
You may recall that a few times recently, such as in the recent post, Cymrophobia and the Many Identities of Jacques Protic, I’ve referred to ‘the package’, and explained it by inviting readers to ask themselves: ‘How many people do I know who are rabidly hostile to the Welsh language but favour greater devolution?’ the answer is of course few, if any. For an individual’s views over a range of seemingly disparate topics will inevitably be consistent when those topics are in reality linked.
Over the years this has been brought home to me in a number of ways. One I recall was the ‘Bring Back Pembrokeshire’ group. On the face of it those involved in this group were likeable old rustics cruelly deprived of their birthright by callous and unthinking bureaucrats. Then came another round of local government reorganisation in 1996 and they got their wish. But it didn’t end there . . .
For the truth is that the BBP crew, concentrated south of the Landsker, were uncomfortable in Dyfed for a specific, but unspoken, reason. Having to share the county with those buggers in the north was bad enough, but being lumped in with Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion was just too much to bear. Dyfed was just, well, too Welsh. I was reminded of this a couple of years ago when I first saw the county flag.
A luminary of the Bring Back Pembrokeshire campaign was Councillor Peter Stock. That victory won, in 1997 Cllr. Stock turned his attentions to leading Pembrokeshire’s Just Say No campaign. As you might have guessed, Stock was also involved in devising the Pembrokeshire flag. Now I’m sure that Cllr. Stock and his gang would argue that this was all motivated by nothing more sinister than love for their native sod. Possibly, but another interpretation has to be that what we see here is a consistent rejection of things that are Welsh, or ‘too Welsh‘.
The attitudes of Peter Stock’s gang in Pembrokeshire comprise a ‘package’ exhibiting itself consistently over decades. Revealing its true nature through seemingly disparate issues that are in reality – and, especially for them – linked. This is due to their mindset being fixed, to the point where their responses can be predicted. Those who wanted to break up Dyfed because it was too Welsh were guaranteed to be opposed to devolution.
While Pembrokeshire provides this excellent example of a ‘package’, I’m now going to move on and consider the ‘codes’ mentioned in the title. These can sometimes appear reasonable and even of some merit, until they are ‘decoded’. Further consideration exposes the fact that very often what is being argued is nothing but a defence of England’s interests. Much of what remains can be dismissed as insulting twattery. Let’s look at a few examples.
Starting with a post I wrote earlier this month, The Trouble With Devolution . . . , prompted by a stupid remark made by Governor-General, David Jones. Ostensibly addressing the prospect of devolving responsibility for stamp duty to the ‘Welsh’ Government Jones argued that we should consider the “implications” of such a move on the UK. In other words, on England. More specifically, English Tory voters with holiday homes in Wales. In fairness, Jones was pretty honest about his priority, others are less so.
A story regularly regurgitated by our media is that of rising house prices and large numbers of English moving to our rural and coastal areas, without making the connection. This is then presented as something to be welcomed on the grounds that a) rising property values is a sign of increasing prosperity, and b) we Welsh should be flattered that so many English want to move to our country. A double insult, completely overlooking the fact that fewer and fewer of our people – trapped in a low wage economy – can afford these properties.
Staying with housing, here’s another gem: ‘If we weren’t building (big, expensive) houses in the countryside young Welsh people would have nowhere to live.’ This one was much favoured by Dai Lloyd Evans, former hetman of Ceredigion council. Insulting nonsense with a dollop of personal greed thrown in when uttered by profiteering landowners like Dai Lloyd Evans.
‘Better off together’. This posits the view that we Celts are better off being ruled and robbed by England than by being independent. The statement itself is such obvious bollocks that it constitutes an insult to the intelligence of anyone to whom it is addressed. The real exposure comes when the person uttering this nonsense is simultaneously agitating for UK withdrawal from the European Union.
‘Water is a natural resource, it would be immoral to charge for it’. Overlooking the obvious fact that oil, gold and countless other valuable commodities traded globally are also ‘natural resources’. Twattery spouted solely to defend England’s interests.
‘I’m not opposed to the Welsh language’ . . . just the ‘compulsory’ teaching of the language, or the ‘expense’ of bilingual forms and signs, etc. Translation: ‘I hate the Welsh language and I wish it was dead, but obviously I can’t say that publicly’.
‘I’m a good / proud / patriotic Welsh person’. As a rule of thumb, anything that follows such a preface can usually be dismissed as a load of anti-Welsh bigotry.
When arguing for Welsh firms to be given contracts in Wales and Welsh workers jobs, to have this vehemently condemned as ‘Racism‘. This response clearly prioritises the interests of England and the English, while also traducing the term ‘racism’. Doubly ironic when heard from the likes of those who oppose ‘them immigrants coming ‘ere an’ takin’ our jobs’.
‘Wales is too small and poor to survive on her own’. Of course she is. So is Switzerland, and Finland, Norway and many other small countries. (Once the Jocks realise this they’ll definitely vote No.) When you hear crap like this you have ask yourself, ‘Does the person saying this believe it? If so, then you are confronted with an idiot. If not, then a liar. Either way, ignore them and move on.
I’m sure those reading this can think of many more ‘codes’ that I haven’t mentioned. One would obviously be the suggestion that devolution is doomed to fail and independence would be a disaster because we Welsh are somehow less intelligent than other peoples. Obviously this cannot be stated openly, so what’s the most imaginative way you’ve heard it phrased?
P.S. As I don’t have a laptop, tablet, iPad, or fancy mobile phone, I may be late in allowing or answering comments. Must find one of them buildings with books . . . what are they called? Or one o’ they fancy caffs.