Census 2011: Comparisons 1981 – 2011

A comment to my previous post put me to wondering if it might be possible to go back to earlier censuses (censi?) to make some comparisons with the findings from 2011. So I sent off an e-mail to the Office for National Statistics asking if the figures I needed were available. Within a few hours I was telephoned by a lady from the ONS who gave me the information! For further figures I requested she suggested I contact Nomis (which appears to be a related body). I sent off another e-mail and again, within hours, a lady from Nomis rang me and talked me through the Nomis website to the information I wanted! Just ask yourself – would I have got service like that from any department of the ‘Welsh’ Government? (Don’t misinterpret this as an argument for maintaining the Union, it’s an argument for a real Welsh Government, and a real Welsh civil service.)

What I was looking for were the figures, going back to 1981, showing country of birth, or the respective percentages for the Welsh born and English born components in the population, and how these have changed over the past 30 years. I also decided to throw in the total population change over the same period to give Country of Birthsome context and a point of comparison for different areas. Click on the table to view it better, or click here for a PDF version.

The headline figures are as follows: Between 1981 and 2011 the Welsh born element of our population fell from 79.5 to 72.7, that is, 6.8 percentage points. In the same period the English born percentage rose from 17.0 to 20.8, an increase of 3.8 percentage points. In the same period the population of Wales rose from 2,716,828 to 3,063,456, an increase of 346,628 or, in percentage terms, 12.8. That may be the national picture but, as ever, it encompasses some fascinating local and regional figures, and quite a few that should cause concern. Let’s start with our capital city.

CARDIFF  In the thirty years covered by the table, the population of Cardiff soared by 75,162 to 346,090. That’s an increase more than the total population of Blaenau Gwent, Merthyr Tydfil or Anglesey. The Welsh born component dropped in the same period from 81.1% to just 68.7%, though the English born element rose by only 4.6%.  Telling us that Cardiff is now becoming a real European capital: sucking in investment and talent from the rest of the country while also attracting people from around the world. With the higher education racket making a major contribution.

SWANSEA / NEWPORT  Something similar, though less damaging to the rest of Wales, seems to be happening in Swansea, and indeed, Newport. In Swansea, the Welsh born figure is down 7.8% in thirty years with the English up 3.2%, against a total increase of 17,953. For Newport it’s -2.2 and -2.5 with an increase of 13,935. Yes, that’s two minuses. It would appear that both Swansea and Newport, but more so Newport, are attracting people from outside the UK. Next door to Newport, in Torfaen, the Welsh born figure has actually risen by 0.1% and the English element is down 0.6%. Returning to Swansea Bay, there’s little change to report from Neath Port Talbot. While Bridgend seems to prosper still, with a population increase of 15,387 (12.4%) with the Welsh born element dropping by 2.8% and the English rising by only 1.1%.

VALLEYS  While Torfaen and Caerphilly both saw population increases the three Heads of the Valleys authorities – RCT, Merthyr, Blaenau Gwent – all saw population falls. The biggest fall was in the last of those. In the thirty years covered by the table this area saw its population decline from 75,237 to 68,814. Curiously, though, the same period saw the Welsh born element decline by 3.1% and the English born element increase by 1.6%. Which is weird. If there’s no work in Blaenau Gwent, and Welsh people are leaving, why is the English element increasing? I can only think that, in a desperate attempt to keep up the numbers, the ‘Welsh’ Government, using its proxies in housing associations and other agencies, is bringing in a benefit-dependent population from England. As is suggested here.

NORTH EAST  Even allowing for the fact that many locals are born in Chester, the 2011 figure for Flintshire of just 50.% Welsh born is very depressing. Wrexham is more encouraging, but even here the percentage of Welsh by birth has now slipped below 70%. Denbighshire presents something of an anomaly, with both Welsh born and English born percentages down between ’81 and 2011. Again we can infer movement into the area from places other than England. As is the case with Conwy, which I’ll include in this section because of Llandudno and the coastal strip. Incidentally, Conwy has a higher percentage of Scots and Irish in the population than can be found Cardiff. (Not a lot of people know that!) In this region the spread of the Manchester-Merseyside commuter belt is also a growing problem.

RURAL AREAS  In this category we need to consider Pembrokeshire, Monmouthshire and Powys. The first has seen a population increase of 18,688 (+18%). With the oil refineries gone and little alternative work, this increase is down almost entirely to people moving in to the county. Shown in the country of birth figures. Monmouthshire has seen a population growth that, in percentage terms (+26.2%) is not far behind Cardiff, but with little change in the percentages for where born. Which can not be said for Powys.

Here, in the most rural county in Wales, the population between 1981 and 2011 jumped from 109,903 to 132,976, and the percentage of Welsh born within that population dropped from 67.8% to just 49.8%. The same caveat of over-the-border births applies here as applies to Flintshire, but the situation was the same in the past. There is no question that Powys is being systematically colonised. Aided by (the legacy of) the Development Board for Rural Wales, an Independent (i.e. disproportionately landowner) council, and officers desperate to boost the population in the hope of guaranteeing the council’s survival in any local government reorganisation. I would have thought that the survival of Welsh identity is far more important.

Y FRO GYMRAEG If some of the news thus far has been bad, then it’s about to get a whole lot worse. But let’s start with Anglesey. Not a great deal of change on the island in the percentages or the population level. Partly a reflection on the economic condition. Gwynedd, however, gives cause for concern. Between 1981 and 2011 the Welsh born percentage of Gwynedd’s population fell by 10.3%, against a total population growth of 12,603 or 17%. This can be partly explained by the growth in Bangor university but more generally by the attraction of Gwynedd to retirees and downsizers.

Moving south, Carmarthenshire saw an increase in population of 23,276 (14.5%), which is surprising given the loss of jobs in coal, tinplate and other industries in Llanelli and its hinterland during this period. Again, the growth can only be attributed to population movement into the county of a largely non-working population. The real horror story, though, is Ceredigion. Where the Welsh born element has fallen from 72.8% in 1981 to 55.3% in 2011. While, in percentage terms, Ceredigion has seen an even bigger increase in population than Cardiff, from 55,349 to 75,922 (+39.2%). But there has been no gold rush, no economic miracle. The tragedy of Ceredigion is attributable to (again) higher education; (again) the legacy of the DBRW; plus the machinations of former council leader Dai Lloyd Evans and his gang, building expensive houses for local youngsters to buy . . . well, that’s how it was explained at the time.

CONCLUSION  It’s only a matter of time before we Welsh are a minority in our own country . . . or what was our country. In some areas we probably are already a minority. It is not happening by accident. Though it happens partly by doing nothing . . . By which I mean that politicians can neglect scenically attractive areas knowing that there will be no empty houses, no deserted villages, to damn their ineptitude, for there are a million potential buyers in England for every empty Welsh property. It’s a good system, and of course it also weakens a secessionist threat and destroys a ‘divergent’ cultural identity.

What’s happening in Wales though is also due in part to direct intervention from the English Planning Inspectorate and other agents. Were this being done to any other people, they would resist, but we are Welsh. After centuries of having it hammered into us that we are inferior to the English, many of us are now flattered that so many English want to settle among us. This, and more, helps account for the lack of resistance to what is being done to us, and to our country.

But this programme could not operate were it not for the Welsh people who profit by it. The landowners, the builders, the tradesmen, the estate agents, the shopkeepers and countless others. Many of them the kind of people who like to gather convivially and discreetly, to discuss and decide important matters, before letting those matters be aired in what passes for the democratic forum. Many can even persuade themselves they’re doing the right thing for everybody, or ‘the community’, by supporting that new housing development!

And remember! not all those born in Wales are Welsh. As I pointed out in my previous post, even though 72.7% of the population in 2011 was born in Wales only 65.8% identified themselves in any way as Welsh. So minority status will probably come when the Welsh born figure is around 60%. How we face up to this unfolding tragedy will decide what sort of people we are. Whether we are a people deserving of a national future.

P.S. This comes with the usual health warning. If you find that I’ve made a mistake, please let me know and I’ll correct it.