As the media reminds us unremittingly, there is a rugby game in Cardiff on Saturday between Wales and England. Though, if one wanted to be cynical – and I often do! – then, seeing as ‘our’ team is the creation of the Welsh Rugby Union, it could be argued that what we shall actually see is a team representing England and another team representing a corrupted interpretation of Welsh identity.
Why am I picking on the Welsh Rugby Union? Well, basically because the WRU has always been a bastion of the forelock-tugging element in Welsh life, those for whom pride in Wales and Welshness are permissable up to the point where it’s acknowledged that Welshness is a subordinate identity to what they might describe as Britishness but is, in reality, Englishness. They are what the Irish might call ‘shoneens’.
This attitude was exhibited at the very formation of the Welsh Rugby Union when, instead of adopting a Welsh emblem, the founders went for a central European badge with a motto in German that represents the heir to the English throne. The WRU has continued in this obsequious vein for well over a century. Most recently with its introduction of the Prince William Cup, competed for between Wales and South Africa! (Most of whose players over the years have been republican Afrikaners, or Boers.)
But let’s focus on Saturday’s game. England are going for the Grand Slam after beating Ireland, Scotland, France and Italy. Having lost only to Ireland, Wales can deny England this prize, and also win the Championship themselves, if they beat England by seven points. So why am I not transported to paroxysms of frenzied patriotism, ignoring all else? Because that’s what they want. Rugby in Wales is bread and circuses twenty-first century style: Permissible patriotism and sanctioned Sais-bashing (up to a point).
‘Patriotism’ and national sentiment turned off and on like a tap. While the tap is running, and just like in the ancient festivals of misrule, we Welsh are allowed to get above ourselves, say and do things that would normally be frowned upon. But once the tap is turned off, it’s back to normal; to the normal condition of our country. For ask yourself, if we stuff the English by thirty points will it make Wales less poor? When the cloud of euphoria has evaporated will we find that England is no longer exploiting our water and other resources, not covering our country in wind turbines, has stopped dumping her undesirables on us?
Wales doesn’t need 80-minute ‘patriots’; Wales needs commitment for 365 days a year. Even so, enjoy the game, but remember, even a Welsh victory will be nothing more than a harmless and enjoyable distraction from, rather than the answer to, Wales’ problems. They’ll still be there when you sober up.
A few hours before the game, at mid-day, I hope to be at a rally outside the Senedd. A number of groups have combined to organise a protest against the Local Development Plans being forced on our local authorities by the English Planning Inspectorate acting in the name of the Welsh Government. In fact, no less than 320,000 new homes.
There is no indigenous demand for this number. Most, especially in rural areas, will be unaffordable to all but a few Welsh people. In fact, all rural areas of Wales already have an oversupply of housing, both private and social, so why are we being told to build more? The answer is inescapable – to accommodate yet more English colonists.
This is why organisations including Cambria Band, Cyngor Pobl Gogledd Cymru, Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg, Cymuned, Plaid Cymru and the Welsh National Rights Movement will be represented at the rally. They will be calling for a new approach to planning in Wales, based on what we need. Radical, I suppose, but only in a colonialist context such as we find in Wales.
So if you’re in Cardiff on Saturday, rather than getting tanked up on Brains and faux patriotism, why not come down the Bay to experience the real thing? Among people who’ll still be patriots next week. Learn about what really matters in this country; the things that will be important long after most people have forgotten what happened at the Millennium Stadium.