Monday, June 19, 2006

Why I don't support England in the World Cup - An explanation to my English Friends

I know that a good number of English people, and English nationalists in particular, read this site. So let me explain why I and many thousands of other Welsh people (and other Celts presumably) won't be supporting England in this World Cup.

It's not because of anti-English racism. As a Welsh nationalists I'm supportive of a strong English identity and don't believe the bile and slander I read from British nationalists and the Brit Nat Labour Party in particular, that Englishness = racism. I believe that there is a strong civic English national identity and I support that. In fact, all Welsh nationalists are more supportive of English identity than the British establishment.

It's not a hatred of England, things English or English people. Many Welsh nationalists reading this site will know, be married to, or have good friends who are English. Welsh nationalists have a great respect for the English who have made a massive contribution to world literature, culture and scientific development.

So, what is this business of supporting teams which play against England? Why do some Welsh people daub walls, snap England flags off cars in Wales or wear the shirts of obscure countries that play against England?

It's politics.
I know as night follows day that if all Welsh people and Welsh nationalists were to support England in this World Cup the message it would send wouldn't be 'aren't the Welsh an open-minded, liberal people who deserve our respect and support'. The message the governing classes, the media, tourists and ordinary English people will see is 'Wales = England' or as the Encyclopaedia Britannica used to say, 'for Wales, see England'.

Our nationality, our language and our concerns will be ignored -
'they all support England, they identify with England, they really are the same as the English. There wouldn't be a Welsh Language Act or a strengthening of the Wales Act to give the Assembly more power.

Welsh people would gradually think,
'yes, your right, for Wales see England, that's it'. As I've said before, Welsh nationalism is a political concept that had to be invented because Britishness/British nationalism was (and is) negating our existence and language. By supporting England we'll make ourselves invisible and when you're invisible you're ignored. Not supporting England makes us visible and affirms our nationality and gives us strength.

Those Welsh people who tell us to support England are by and large the ones who've accepted an ethnic Welsh identity within a larger civic English/British nationality. They've accepted a Welshness that is acceptable to English norms; it's Welshness in the image of Englishness. This isn't an argument against Englishness; it's an argument against this type of Welshness that makes Wales a province not a nation.

So, to my English readers. I hope you have a good World Cup. Yes, I would dearly like to be there with you supporting a Welsh team in the finals. I'm very glad you have your own national football team and aren't submerged within a British one. I support your efforts to fly your flag and to create a civic, passionate and exciting new English identity.

But I ask you to keep in mind my feelings, and thousands of others like me when you visit Wales, and accept that the reasons we won't support your team is purely political not personal, or jealousy. Enjoy your World Cup.


cornubian said...

Can i just say that it is 110% the same for Cornwall in that we are denied the recognition of our nation by most and therefore it is an even more important issue.

wonkotsane said...

"Can i just say that it is 110% the same for Cornwall in that we are denied the recognition of our nation by most and therefore it is an even more important issue."

Yeah, it's the same for us in the Kingdom of Mercia and those plucky rebels in the Kingdom of Northumbria who have had their historic nations subsumed into the English nation.

There has been no Cornish nation for over 1,000 years! Cornwall has a worse economy than Albania. The Cornish nation isn't recognised for the same reason that Mercia, Northumbria, Wessex, etc. aren't recognised as nations - because thay aren't!

Rhys Wynne said...

Nice one Wonko, while making great efforts to have your own nation recognised rather than airbrushed out of history for the sake of some fake British nation, you seem to treat the Cornish in the same way :-(

cornubian said...

A copy of this letter, sent to the WMN, was received a few days ago but held back so that it would coincide with the Tuesday edition of the WMN. I have not given the authors name but this will manifest itself if printed in the paper today

*************eMail letter***************


I write regarding the Living Cornwall article which posed the question, Can a Cornishman cheer for England. I wish in particular to address the follow up comments by readers which articulated their respective positions, but failed to give reasons for their opinions.

I am one of a growing minority of Cornish people who do not support England's sporting ventures. Although the reasons for this are complex, and could fill a book, I should like to suggest why some might adopt this position.

First and foremost, it is impossible for us to overlook the fact that the Cornish were here on this island long before the English who, upon arrival, proceeded to subjugate the existing inhabitants with a view to dominating the island. Yet after 1000 years of cultural persecution, economic exploitation and military repression, the Cornish are still here. This remains a running sore for the English imperialist. And this is why, in spite of all the multi-cultural posturing and human rights rhetoric emanating from London, the driving force of English hegemony has never been extinguished, and the Cornish still face a momentous struggle for survival.

To facilitate their ambition the English dominated Westminster Parliament has established a political framework that marginalises the Cornish out of existence; constructed administrative systems that ignore our needs; created economic conditions that make the Cornish appear to be dependent; manufactured and enforced laws that consolidate their own power and imposed upon us an education system designed to rid us of our identity and mould us into being English people. This is why, for example, not an eyebrow is raised when the Cornwall Local Education Authority asserts that it would be "dangerous" to teach Cornish children their history and not one murmur of official disapproval is voiced when the same authority states that it would be "unhelpful and unhealthy" for Cornish children to be permitted to identity themselves as such in schools. This is also why the Home Office recently wrote a report to the Council of Europe stating that of all UK culture minorities, only the Cornish must be prevented from obtaining cultural, social and political empowerment.

The best way to keep a slave poor is to constantly tell him he is free and wealthy. So we get wall to wall coverage of Westminster's £300 million match-funding of Cornwall's six year Objective One aid package, and no coverage of the fact that in the same period Westminster extracted £1.8 billion from the Cornish economy. So far from being dependent, the figures, which come from the Treasury itself and are backed up by independent analysis from Business Age magazine, reveal that the poorest region in Britain is actually subsidising the richest city in Europe. This bizarre situation not only keeps us poor, but also undermines the value of money in London, which in turn raises London wages and thus fuels the London property market. After passing laws which allow them to suck in other peoples money, the economically bloated Londoner can retire early to 'third-world' Cornwall, buy up a few houses and rent them out to impoverished locals working for subsistence wages in a failing holiday industry kept alive by Objective One money.

Only this week I read in the media that most people in Cornwall are 'patriotic' and support England, but that some 'Cornish nationalists' do not. Careful use of language by an Anglo-centric media is another way to stigmatise and marginalise those whose only 'crime' is to hold a different opinion. For Patriotism is commonly associated with values like trust and loyalty, whereas Nationalism is often associated with extremism and violence. The multiple suggestion by the media is that people who support England are loyal and trusting, while those who do not are potentially dangerous extremists. The further suggestion is that there are no English nationalists, only 'English patriots'. This is why, for example, the media is careful to use different descriptive terms to describe two equally murderous gangs, namely 'Loyalist Paramilitaries' and 'Irish Terrorists'. Yet in spite of careful use of words such as patriot and nationalist, what we in Cornwall are currently witnessing, and being subjected to, is English hyper-nationalism stoked up by the mass media into obscene and quite frightening levels of hysteria. I only need enter my local pub to experience this, for only last week I heard the voices of aggression, and watched the fists clench and faces contort with anger as I attempted to express a perfectly rational, but entirely contrary, point of view. In such circumstances it is worth reflecting on the words of Home Secretary Jack Straw and Conservative leader William Hague who in 2000 acknowledged that "English Nationalism is the most dangerous form of all nationalisms that can arise within the UK" [Hague] and that "The English have used their propensity towards violence to subjugate the smaller nations of Britain" [Straw]. [The Independent - 10th Jan 2000].

I watch international football matches with great interest, for encapsulated within the game, and in particular within those that observe and comment upon it, are all the familiar traits of imperialism. For example, I often observe TV commentators rightly condemn misbehaviour from foreign players, but excuse, overlook or pass-off as 'mischief', foul play by England players. The portrayal of England players as perfection personified reinforces a belief in English supremacism. The concept of 'My country - right or wrong' is what leads some into taking morally repugnant actions - whether that be the the trashing of a German town centre, the undertaking of morally unjustified wars or the denial of educational rights to the Cornish. On several occasions I observed commentators describe situations which never actually occurred. For example, I witnessed a leading English striker take a dive against Jamaica and be awarded a penalty for his efforts. After reviewing the tape it was plain for all to see that no contact had taken place, yet the commentators set about convincing themselves, and others, that the striker was brought down through contact. This was a manifestation of the age old English tendency to re-write history in such a way so as to present themselves in a more favourable light.

Football, and sport in general, assists the imperial power in two ways. It helps seduce, or cajoul, everyone within the territory into social and cultural conformity. It also occupies the minds of the masses which in turn prevents them from thinking about more important issues. What average Joe would wish to think for one second about 'lofty' political concepts when they can afford a pint, a fag, and cheer on their team. Religion is no longer the opiom of the masses, that position is now occupied by sport.

Sweden has never gerrymandered our constitutionsl position, expunged Cornish language, history and culture from the common pool of knowledge, placed us in political and economic subjection, usurped our birthright or carried out pogroms against us. For these, and many other, reasons I will be cheering on Sweden tonight. [Tuesday 20th June].

********* ********

jowann said...

I totaly agree with everything in the letter by cornubian. As a proud Cornishman I too will be supporting Sweden, for the same reasons.

wonkotsane said...

"Nice one Wonko, while making great efforts to have your own nation recognised rather than airbrushed out of history for the sake of some fake British nation, you seem to treat the Cornish in the same way :-("

I see your point but there is a big difference between England and Cornwall. Cornwall hasn't been a nation for over 1,000 years, has none of the trappings of state and is incapable of supporting itself as an independent state. With the Cornish economy in its current condition, the best the Cornish could hope for with independence would be a subsistence farming existence. With a devolved government under an English Parliament it might eventually fare better and eventually become a "nation" within the United Kingdom. Personally I can't see it but stranger things have happened.

wonkotsane said...

Can I just add that international conventions on recognising emerging states states that the emerging state should have the ability to support itself in terms of infrastructure, economy and other trappings of state. In the UK, only England meets that criteria as Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland all rely on multi-billion pound subsidies from the English taxpayer to balance the books. Cornwall is in an even worse state.

Griff said...


One could easily and justly replace the word 'subsidies' with 'reparations'

wonkotsane said...

Yes, you could. You could also replace it with the word "bribe" or "bung". Reparations for what though? For a war that took place 500 or more years ago? At what point does something that happened centuries ago actually cease to be relevant in the everyday lives of your average celt? The Scots still harp on about the Battle of Bannockburn as if it happened in the last decade and the Welsh go on about the banning of the Welsh language as if it was a policy introduced by an evil English overlord at the turn of the millenium.

These things are all in the past. You can't base your entire culture around revenge and retaliation for things that happened 500 years ago.

cornubian said...

"I see your point but there is a big difference between England and Cornwall. Cornwall hasn't been a nation for over 1,000 years, has none of the trappings of state and is incapable of supporting itself as an independent state. With the Cornish economy in its current condition, the best the Cornish could hope for with independence would be a subsistence farming existence."

You need a lesson in English i see.

State, country and nation mean different things. Cornwall has never stopped being a nation that is simple up to the Cornish people to decide. Cornwall was last a totally independent state around 900 ad. For most of its history including today Cornwall has a constitutional status as a Duchy with Stannary parliaments (see the Cornish foreshore case on the 19th century). This Duchy status plus Stannary courts and parliaments ensured a level of Cornish autonomy far larger than that of the modern Wales. You also seem to imply that the creation of a puppet 'English county' administration within our Cornish Duchy by the English Imperial State in 1889 has the constitutional legitimacy of redefining the national status of Cornwall (and the Cornish people) from a dominion territory of the Crown to a mere English county . May I point out that no one has the right to change the national identity of Cornwall (and the Cornish people) and certainly not by prescriptive Imperial arrogance!

As to the economy well i am sure an autonomous or even independent Cornwall would do just fine in the EU just like Malta or any other small nation/autonomous region. Cornwall has an annual £300 million balance of payments surplus with London - the richest city in Europe. This means that everyone in Cornwall is sold short by £600 per person and that £300 million leaves Cornwall annually. Therefore one of Europe's poorest nations subsidises the wage structure, public transport, educational services, cultural activities etc. of one of the wealthiest group of people in Europe. Although people fail to realise it, London makes for itself laws that suck decision-making power, talent and money out of Cornwall - this is the nature of colonialism.

cornubian said...

Local GVA

Inner London still highest contributor
Top 5 and Bottom 5 GVA per head of population, indexed to UK=100, 2003

Inner London contributed £113bn to the UK economy (measured as gross value added (GVA)) in 2003 (this is at current basic prices and before taking account of inflation). At £38,800 Inner London also had the highest GVA per head of population, more than double the UK average of £16,100.

Highlands and Islands had the smallest share of GVA at £4bn. Cornwall & Isles of Scilly (£10,400) West Wales & the Valleys (£10,600) and the Highlands & Islands (£11,400) had the lowest GVA per head of population in 2003.

see the graph here: