I’M IN SEMI-RETIREMENT AND THIS BLOG IS WINDING DOWN. I INTEND CALLING IT A DAY SOON AFTER THIS YEAR’S SENEDD ELECTIONS. POSTINGS WILL NOW BE LESS FREQUENT AND I WILL NOT UNDERTAKE ANY MAJOR NEW INVESTIGATIONS. DIOLCH YN FAWR.
The title is of course taken from Tony Blair’s famous speech of May 2001. It seems apposite because this offering is also about the UK Labour Party (Welsh branch) and education.
Last Friday, the BBC Wales website ran a story headlined ‘Black history lessons to be made mandatory in Welsh schools’. (If the link is broken, then the article is available here in pdf format.)
On the same day, Llais y Sais ran a full-page piece (below) by Jane Hutt MS, speaking on behalf of the ‘Welsh Government’, setting out her gang’s plan for an “anti-racist Wales”. (It too is available in pdf format.)
The two pieces are obviously linked. And both connect with a petition from last year demanding that the ‘Welsh Government’, ‘Make it compulsory for Black and POC UK histories to be taught in the Welsh education curriculum’.
It’s clearly orchestrated. And it needs to be answered because this campaign is misinterpreting statistics, telling outright lies, and marginalising the history of the people to whom this country belongs.
Let’s start with the BBC piece.
It focuses on Professor Charlotte Williams, “who led a working group set up by the Welsh government to look at how BAME contributions through history was taught in schools”.
To the surprise of absolutely no one Prof Williams discovered that the current education system could have been designed by the Ku Klux Klan. Her working group made 51 recommendations – all of which have been accepted by the ‘Welsh Government’. Which has also shelled out £500,000 to help implement those recommendations. (With more to follow, I’m sure.)
I can’t tell you much about Professor Williams. She’s probably a Labour Party loyalist, and that explains how she got the gig. That’s how things work in Wales.
Though I’m not clear about her field of expertise and her titles seem to be honorary. Certainly, that’s what’s suggested by this piece on the Bangor University website. (Available here in pdf format.) She’s an honorary professor at Bangor and an honorary fellow at Glyndŵr and South Wales.
In the Bangor University article I’ve linked to Williams says: “We have a rich history in Wales, built on difference and diversity”. Er, no.
For the greater part of our history we have been one people, speaking one language, divided only by geography and dialect. This is what held us together, this is what gave us our sense of ourselves as a people during centuries of conquest and subjugation.
As late as the 19th century that unity was reinforced by the Industrial Revolution and our adherence to the nonconformist denominations. Making me wonder how much Prof Williams really knows about Wales.
The ‘diversity’ to which she refers is very recent. And while its proselytisers preach unity, in practice they label and divide.
While Welsh children are to be taught BAME history the ‘Welsh Government’ has decided they will not be taught their own history, or the history of their country unless this is done through the prism of a ‘diversity’ that is absent from the history of Wales until comparatively recent times.
Something very strange is happening. The desire to tell the story of ‘colonialism, discrimination and exploitation’ is being used to ignore or marginalise the history of an indigenous population with first-hand knowledge of colonialism, discrimination and exploitation.
And this has all been prompted by the death of a man last year in a US city most of you can’t even remember the name of.
Another untruth in the BBC article can be found with, “In 2019, 12% of all pupils aged five and over came from minority ethnic backgrounds . . . according to Pupil Level Annual School Census data.”
We are encouraged to interpret that as meaning 12% of pupils in Welsh schools come from non-white backgrounds. But the source used, StatsWales, makes it clear that’s not the case. What it tells us is that 12% did not identify as ‘White British’.
This 12% is made up of Irish children, Italian children, and Polish children, maybe even white Welsh kids who didn’t want to identify as British.
But if we are to have an à la carte education system then I suggest our pedagogues get their answers ready for when Mrs McGillicuddy rocks up demanding to know why Seamus and Siobhan are not being taught the history of Gaelic Ireland.
Polish history is very interesting as well. And what about the Risorgimento!
It may sound like a good idea, but once history is tailored to group or individual backgrounds then it can become as irrelevant to others as one’s family history.
That’s why sensible countries take the ‘broad sweep’ approach to the history of their country and then fit that national past into the wider, global picture.
Now a quick shufty at the petition.
A hybrid beast, this. It is addressed to the Welsh Parliament, yet it keeps referring to the UK and Britain.
To take the petition wording at face value it seems to be asking that Welsh children be taught about the experiences of immigrant groups in England. But why?
It also wants our children to learn that Wales, “benefited from colonialism and slavery for centuries”. Did we really! These ‘benefits’ must have passed my family by.
But what is Black and POC history? Is it the history of African people(s)? The spread of Islam? Moghul India? Asia? China? Pre-Columbian America? With nothing to connect these disparate stories other than their contacts with Europeans, at what point will BAME history degenerate into, ‘White bastards . . . ‘.
Finally, let’s look at the Llais y Sais article. There are so many distortions that it’s difficult to know where to start.
The article is written by Jane Hutt of Surbiton, who spent much of her childhood in colonial Africa. Her career in Wales began in the third sector, which helped her become a Labour councillor. She was then an unsuccessful Westminster candidate before securing the consolation prize of a seat in the new Welsh Assembly in 1999.
So, yet another Labour politician who’s never done a real job.
In the second paragraph Hutt says, “. . . our partners have shared more shocking stories of racism and hate crime endured in Wales”. Who might these ‘partners’ be, I wonder?
I would hazard a guess that these are Labour’s cronies in the third sector and elsewhere. People and groups reliant on public funding that can be best secured by exaggerating a problem and / or telling the ‘Welsh Government’ what it wants to hear.
What’s in it for the Labour Party? Well, the sub-text has always been – from the days of Naz Malik and his Swansea Bay Race Equality Council – ‘Welsh nationalism is by definition racist’. (Remember Naz?)
In discussing the impact of Covid, Hutt suggests that people from ethnic minority backgrounds have suffered worse than white people. This is more bollocks. The critical factor has been deprivation. The kind of deprivation experienced in the post-industrial communities that the ‘Welsh’ Labour Government has condemned to managed decline. Communities where the population is almost exclusively white, and Welsh.
Towards the end Hutt writes: “We want to make sure that Wales becomes not just non-racist, but anti-racist, by the year 2030”.
‘Non-racist’ means the absence of racism. To go further is to pander to extremists who argue that all white people carry the guilt for slavery and imperialist exploitation. A sentiment we saw articulated in the petition.
We are now in the territory of Critical Race Theory, reporting neighbours for watching Gone With The Wind, and shopping Nain for her Robertson’s golliwog badge. Maybe even self-flagellation.
Wales does not want to go there. Labour should not be taking us towards this fresh kind of intolerance.
And yet Hutt’s overlong homily is not without its unintended humour.
The idea of Travellers complaining about ‘racism and hate crime’ is laughable. What they’re far more likely to be moaning about is being collared for their criminal behaviour. (Here’s a very recent example.)
‘Colourism’ may be a term many of you are unfamiliar with, but it’s rife in India, where it seems people of darker skin tone tend to be looked down on. All tied up with history, caste, religion, etc. It also seems to operate in the USA. Where, again, it is something found within communities, in this case, African-Americans.
Either way, ‘colourism’ or ‘shadism’ is a complex subject internal to certain countries and groups. It should never be a concern of the ‘Welsh Government’.
Hutt concludes with, “We must stand proud with open hearts and minds, and take positive action to banish racism, discrimination and inequality from Wales”. All very noble, and guaranteed a round of applause at the next Labour Party bunfight.
But this commitment to combating discrimination and inequality would carry more weight if, instead of playing to certain galleries, Labour politicians took action to stop Welsh people being ethnically cleansed from their own communities.
BAME education is so typically ‘Welsh’ Labour – about Wales, but not the Welsh. Twenty-two years of devolution has been all about gestures and virtue signalling for external audiences and tiny groups of activists.
While the essential Welshness of Wales, that sense of identity that brought devolution into being, has been undermined and the threats against it ignored.
Twenty-two years of anti-Welsh devolution.
This is why the Labour Party is opposed to both Welsh language education and the teaching of Welsh history in our schools. They fear it might make our young people more patriotic, and therefore, less likely to vote Labour.
Which is why, the more I think about BAME education, the more I suspect Labour may not have thought this through.
As I’ve just said, Labour does not want to enthuse Welsh children with a sense of patriotism, or worse, grievance. Nor does it wish to encourage anti-British or anti-English sentiment.
But if history is to be taught from a BAME and leftist perspective then how are children to be told about the slave trade, the Amritsar Massacre, An Gorta Mór, the Bengal famine, the coup against Mosaddeq, and so many other episodes of Britain’s past without encouraging a “Bastards!” reaction?
What you’ve read here is my interpretation of the Labour Party pandering to yet another vocal and unrepresentative minority. And while we should all strive to marginalise racism – for it will never be entirely eradicated – I believe that what is being suggested risks damaging the Welsh education system and doing more harm than good for communal relations.
I say that because I can think of few things more insulting than middle class left liberals designing a curriculum that tells kids relying on food banks in post-industrial shitholes that they should feel guilty for being the beneficiaries of slavery and ‘white privilege’.
It really is time to get rid off these dangerous and insulting clowns in the Labour Party, and the same goes for any other leftist party that might keep Labour in power.
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