Sunday, February 22, 2009

Not so Faroe Away

Sorry about the pun. Keeping with the international themes I've been alerted to some interesting stuff about the Faroes. It seems among all the economic crisis there is one (fairly) stable financial oasis - the Faroe Islands in the north Sea - midway between Shetland, Norway and Iceland.

The Islands have Home Rule government but are still part of Denmark - granted to them in 1948 despite the electorate voting for independence. The population is a shade below 50,000 (yes, that's 50,000 - about the same as Ynys Môn). Their financial situation is robust enough to have offered Iceland a loan a following the collapse of that country's banks. Accord to some reports it's now among the safest places to keep your money.

One reason for the fairly sound financial situation is that the Islands themselves witnessed a financial catastrophe in the mid 1990s which saw one her banks close and up to 5,000 people (10% of the population) emigrate - mostly to Denmark.

Since then, the Islands have picked themselves up and as part of a continual move for more power and less dependence on Denmark are actually receiving less money annually from Denmark. That's a sign of a proud and industrious people. It would do Wales no end of good to work out a phasing of any 'subsidy' (though what is termed a subsidy is open to discussion) and stand on our own two feet. After all, we have to learn to swim some day and someday, taking off the armbands and being solely responsible for the income we raise and spend would be the best answer for generating an entrepreneurial spirit in Wales - better than any government agency, 'one stop shops' or grants.

I'm also informed that the Islands were also recently voted the most appealing in the world by the National Geographic.

In any case, if you'd like to know more about this great little country, speaking their own language (less than 10% the number of Welsh speakers) and with a soccer team even less successful than Wales, why not tune into the newly launched weekly podcast. Some interesting things on #4 about the history and political situation there.

Monday, February 16, 2009

10,000 Catalans to March on Brussels

Once you've been on the St David's Day parade in the capital, you may wish to go another parade - this time in Brussels

DeumilI've just been alerted to a massive campaign in the Catalan Countries to march on the European Capital on 7 March to demand the right of the Catalan nation to chose their own constitutional future. The organisers are aiming for 10,000 persons to travel from Catalonia to Brussels for the march... and seem to be on target!

At the moment, the Spanish constitution has made it illegal to hold a referendum on succession from the Spanish state. So, although this right is part of the Good Friday Agreement in the UK and one supposes were Wales or Scotland to wish so, then we could also hold a referendum to leave the UK. This basic right doesn't exist in Spain. This illogical decision is one reason for the continued violence in the Basque Country.

If the Spanish constitution gave the historic nations which make up the Spanish state (nations which precede that state) the right to a democratic vote, then any legitimacy which ETA claims to have would have been taken from beneath their feet. It would then be the job of ETA's supporters to make a peaceful case as to why the Basque country should gain independence.

Unfortunately, the Spanish Cortes voted down the Basque premiere Ibarretxe's bill on the right to a vote on 'free association'. Making Ibarrexte a nationalist of WAJ-PNV party (the SDLP-type party) look stupid, and give credibility to the ETA supporters who say Spain will never democratically allow the Basques the right to chose.

Fortunately, there is no ETA-type militant wing in Catalonia. However, the Spanish elite are stalling many agreed principles in the New Statute which the Catalans campaigned and won a few years ago.

It's a basic questions. What moral right does the Spanish state, which was formed in 1492, have to deny nations which precede that state, the right to independence? It's a right which the west didn't recognise for the USSR, the Habsburg Empire, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Ireland nor countless other nations. Should we only recognise those states which existed in 1492?

Why not take a Draig Goch flag and take a trip to Brussels in support of our Catalan friends?

Visca Catalunya - Cymru am Byth!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Rhys Williams 2

The more I think about it, the more I believe Plaid Cymru should have made a political issue of Rhys Williams's article in Barn.

At the time I believed that it was best that Plaid let the matter rest, content that Rhys had given himself enough rope. There is also the matter of free speech and of an avoidance to go back to poisonous cesspit which was Welsh politics in 2001/02 when Labour pounced on any comment, and with faux horror and no irony, turned them into some supposed Nazi/racist spleen.

In fact, Rhys Williams, for all his hatred of Plaid Cymru and nationalism (that's the Welsh version not the British version of the Labour party), should go on his knees and thank Plaid for not playing sixth form politics with his silly comments. But were Plaid wrong to be so magnanimous?


Rhys Williams's comments, which belie the deep-felt feelings of many Labour people, is in the same intellectual tradition which allowed Stalin to unleash his man-made famine on Ukraine, the Holodomor. It's right for Plaid to point the direct line between Rhys Williams's thoughts and Stalin's actions.

The deep-set prejudice is all there: dislike of 'peasantry' or country people; a feeling of superiority of the 'intellectual', forward thinking urban society as set against the 'conservatism' right wing of the country folk. A suspicion that these country people speak their own language (Welsh / Ukrainian) to cut others out of their closed society. Their inability to see the enlightened benefits of Labour/International Communism/Stalinism. Their supposed counter-revolutionary insistence on keeping a language and culture which is used to undermine this enlightenment left-wing movement.

Armed with this intellectual certainty inherited from the communist and socialist high-priests, Stalin could starve the Ukrainian population, safe in the knowledge that the phase of dehumanising them had already been done through hundreds and thousands of books and pamphlets extolling the virtues of the urban proletariat against the supposed selfish, religion-obsessed conservatism of the country people - those kolkols not sensible enough to see the virtues of collectivisation. Stalin killed millions all in the name of equality, internationalism, modernism and anti-nationalism of course.

Stalin's effort to wipe our the bourgeois middle-class of the smaller nations of the USSR (see crachach in Labour speak) is also part of William's strategy. He attacks the Welsh middle class but doesn't suggest changing them or putting anything in their place. The strategy is to eliminate a self-conscious Welsh-speaking middle class (' bourgeois intellectuals' in Stalin speak) because of their threat to communist/Labour hegemony. Leaving us with a middle-class which is identical in culture and political outlook to the accepted metropolitan 'norm'.

Rhys Williams's is perfectly in line with the beliefs which underpinned Stalinism. For some reason this is conveniently overlooked by Plaid whilst all discussions by Labour of Welsh nationalism, from keeping Welsh a living community language in Gwynedd, to Welsh medium education in Cardiff, has that 'knowing look' that Welsh nationalism is but one step away from cattle-trucks and gas chambers. Labour really hasn't moved on. Worse still, gets away with this by a compliant BBC.

Rhys isn't Stalin, but his prejudice towards the Welsh speaking community and especially that of rural Wales belies the same pathology and hatred which was the warm sea in which Stalin swam. There's no use pointing out the contradictions and mistakes in Rhys's world view.

His rather bizarre section in the article which implies that urban people (an idealised version of the Valleys of his youth in this instance) are more egalitarian than country folk is contradicted by all social report which point to the fact that the South Wales Valleys are very socially as well as economically conservative. The line that rural societies are right wing when his government has been hand in glove with the greed of the City is beyond a joke. It's an irony which communist nomenklatura habitually threw up to smear any meaningful discussion on economic reform and power-structures.

Plaid; Elin Jones, Adam Price, should have made the link between Rhys Williams's pathology and Stalin's. Only then will we start to see some humility, some realism and some common sense in Labour's discussion of Wales and Welshness. As it is Labour can get away with the big lie that Welsh nationalism is but one train-stop away from Nazism willfully ignorant of the common link between their prejudices and Stalin's atrocities.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Bizarre is the only word

Rhys Williams, Labour PPC Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, has decided to write an article for Welsh language monthly, Barn, saying that although he likes individual Welsh-speakers he doesn't like the Welsh speaking community. Moreover, despite his back-tracking on Radio Wales, he accuses Welsh-speakers of being elitist and trying to cut people out.

One can only guess that this 'elitism' or 'cutting people out' is the insistence of Welsh speakers to, erm, speak Welsh in Wales and not to turn to English, or turn all their clubs and societies into English whenever a non-Welsh speaker comes close to the radar. If Williams knew Welsh speaking society as well as he should, he'd know that it's usually the other way round; Welsh societies, clubs, social networks turning to English ... not the English turning to Welsh.

He goes on, as evidence, to sight Gwynfor Evans's experience when he arrived at Aberystywth university in the 1930s (as described in Rhys Evans's book on Gwynfor, which is now available in English).

Evans, a native of Barry who'd lost his Welsh (because of the socio-political-cultural climate of Barry at the time - i.e. it wasn't cool nor kosher to speak Welsh) was keen to relearn the language. However, a native Welsh-speaker from Bala who was to be his mentor, couldn't be bothered and refused to speak Welsh to Evans. Rhys Williams thinks this is hilarious. Other Welsh-speakers think it's rather sad... and I'd imagine many speakers of other minority languages like Tibetan, Breton, Inuit who are all too familiar with language death would too.

So Rhys Williams celebrates the ignorant Bala boy for refusing to allow Gwynfor Evans to join Welsh language society (by making sure Evans' never become proficient in Welsh) but at the same time, Rhys Williams accuses Welsh speakers, or Welsh nationalists in particular, of acting like a clique and not allowing others to join their club! So, refusing to speak Welsh makes you enlightened, open and egalitarian; speaking Welsh makes you closed or elitist?!?

The whole article just doesn't make sense.

Well, it does make sense. The Labour party is just institutionally anti-Welsh. It just can't handle modern, secular, contemporary Welsh speaking society. It can only handle Welsh-speaking society which is stuck somewhere around 1955 - keeping Welsh to places which knows it's place - chapel and hearth. A Welshness which is serf-like in its embarrassment of its own sound.

Rhys obviously feels uncomfortable in Welsh-speaking company. He's tried to back-track on Radio Wales, but it's obvious from his original article that he believes Welsh-speakers are just being awkward.

We could follow Rhys's line of thought (well, maybe not, because it doesn't follow any logic) and get rid of all these 'closed' societies, mason like, institutionally anti-English as he says. That would be quite easy - you get rid of papurau bro, Welsh gigs, Welsh chapels, Welsh schools, Welsh clubs, Merched y Wawr, Welsh radio, Welsh television etc. And you'd have no more Welsh domains or Welsh 'masons' as Rhys says... you'd also have no Welsh language. And lets be honest, that's what Rhys is really suggesting, that's the end game.

Rhys, as a Labour party member, feels excluded from modern secular Welsh language society. That's a pity... but this is a conscious decision by the Welsh Labour movement not to engage in any meaningful way with Welsh-speaking society. Labour members were irrelevant to the formation of the papurau bro. Why? I don't know, a community-lead, not-for-profit newspaper should have been up Labour's 'socialist' street. But that would have meant doing stuff in Welsh and that would have meant engaging thoughtfully with the future of Welsh not just sniggering like a school boy because Welsh-speakers weren't passing Welsh on to their children.

Labour sees no problem in not passing Welsh on to children. They see no social, economical, cultural nor political reason for these micro, individual decisions. And because of that, they see no need to spend time preparing the papur bro, organising a Welsh language gig, running a Welsh language youth club, speaking Welsh to Welsh learners.

Labour is totally irrelevant to modern Welsh language society, because Labour have decided to be so. Labour have opted out of creating a Labour Welsh language society. That's why Labour's vote has collapsed in Welsh-speaking Wales. That's why I increasingly believe Labour will not be the biggest party in Wales following the next Assembly election. Welsh society, both Welsh-speaking and non-Welsh speaking have moved on, leaving Rhys Williams and the Labour party stuck somewhere in 1955.

Tivy Side Observer - Welsh language slur condemned - Labour stirring up anti-Welsh sentiment?
Borthlas - Biting the hand that you want to feed you
Guerrilla Welsh-Fare - Treat 'Em Mean....
Have a look at the Dragons Eye report on this. It’s 18.30mins in.
BBC Cymru'r Byd - Iaith: 'Corddi'r dyfroedd'

Cylchgrawn Barn - Dwi'n casau'r Cymry Cymraeg
Y Prysgodyn - Lemon i arwain ymgyrch chwerw
Blogmenai - Rhys Williams eto
Vaughan Roderick, BBC - Pregeth Rhys

I guess Adam Price's majority will be 10,000+ next time round!

2005 Result in Carmarthen East and Dinefwr
Plaid Cymru: 17561 (45.9%)
Labour: 10843 (28.3%)
Conservative: 5235 (13.7%)
Liberal Democrat: 3719 (9.7%)
UKIP: 661 (1.7%)
Other: 272 (0.7%)
Majority: 6718 (17.5%)

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Welsh Language LCO

Is this some kind of joke? On the day Heritage Minister makes announces that the Welsh Government wish to legislate on the Welsh language, up pop the usual suspects (Labour's Paul Murphy and some Chamber of Commerce/CBI bloke) saying that we need to be mindful of the business sector.

Is Murphy totally shameless? The Labour Government - his government - has chucked £400bn down the drain because of their incompetence and obsession with the great British 'City' is telling us we can't have equal rights for Welsh and English in our own bloody country, in case it affects adversely on the economy?!

Why doesn't Alun Ffred tell him to take a running jump and put his own financial house in order? The UK and Welsh economy is going down the toilet not because WAG believe that large companies which get £200k out of our money should give some service to some of those tax payers; it's going down the pan because of the British nationalists infatuation with the City. This infatuation is built because British nationalism needs a bloated City to prop up it's own self-worth.

And then the CBI bloke comes out with the usual line. This is the same CBI which miserably failed to predict the financial crisis and told us the minimum wage would bring on a plague of locusts? Why do the BBC still insist on interviewing these people - they're totally discredited. They're just a pressure group in smart suits. Why not ask Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg their view on the economy - it could hardly have been worse than the CBI... nor Labour's.

Ann Beynon of BT would 'prefer Welsh language services to remain voluntary.' Ann, I'd prefer taxes were voluntary too - but hey, life's a bitch eh? You've got a license to print money from the state you can now pay that state back for that right.

Murphy's Labour Party and the CBI are two totally discredited bodies in search of a role. They should spend more time sorting out the economy, and stop lecturing a democratically elected Welsh government which believes the future of the Welsh language should be in the hands of a Welsh government.

It's time Alun Ffred told them a few home truths and spoke in plain English the next time they try and 'advise' us.

A Comprehensive Language Measure – Demand more for the people of Wales!
Publication of LCO is a start – but also an obstacle on the road to full linguistic rights.

Welsh language LCO petition
If you support the transfer to the Assembly the necessary power to confirm official status for both Welsh and English

Welsh language
bid for Assembly sparks fears over firm cost
South Wales Evening Post
PLANS for the Assembly to be given the power to compel private firms to use the Welsh language in their dealings with customers have received a mixed
Can the law protect the language?
Daily Post
The Welsh Assembly Government now wants the power to make laws to promote the Welsh language, partly to extend a responsibility on those in the private
Language Commissioner must be independent, say Tories
Tory AM David Melding supported the key Labour-Plaid Cymru goal of appointing a commissioner to protect and promote the Welsh language, but called for him ..
Language choices for all
We have started the process this week of applying for the responsibility to legislate over the Welsh language to transfer from Westminster to the Assembly ..
Let weans speak oot in oor ain guid Scots leid
The Herald
The Welsh language has always had more political overtones than Scots. It has long been a potent symbol of identity, not least when the people of Wales felt ..
Bid for Welsh language responsibilities ‘common sense
Tivyside Advertiser
Plaid Cymru’s Elin Jones AM has welcomed the One Wales Government’s bid for responsibility to legislate to promote use of the Welsh language as a ‘common ..
What's the Welsh for red tape?
The Assembly has drafted a legislative competence order (LCO) which would give it the power to require private firms to use the Welsh language, whether they ...
Post employees would be affected by language legislation
The organisation has been developing bilingual services for a decade through its Welsh language scheme. Telecoms workers for BT and utilities workers at ...
Business may opposes it, but the assembly government
The vocabulary used and the positions adopted hardly change at all – and especially so when it comes to legislation relating to the Welsh language. ...
Iaith: Cais am fwy o bwerau
BBC Cymru'r Byd
Mae Llywodraeth y Cynulliad wedi dechrau'r broses o wneud cais i gael mwy o bwerau dros yr iaith Gymraeg...
Cam diweddara brwydr hir
BBC Cymru'r Byd
Cyhoeddiad cais Llywodraeth y Cynulliad am bwerau i ddeddfu yn achos yr iaith Gymraeg yw'r cam diweddara yn y frwydr hir i gael statws swyddogol..
Public services will mind their language
The organisation has been developing bilingual services for a decade through its Welsh language scheme. Telecoms workers for BT and utilities workers at ...
Battle lines are drawn on historic day for language
DEEP tensions shot to the surface yesterday as the Assembly Government outlined the powers it will seek from Westminster over the Welsh language. ...
Time is right for mature language conversation
IVEN its long gestation period and the frantic rumours about what it would contain, one could be forgiven for expecting the Welsh Language LCO to set the ..
Law would force firms to use Welsh language
Ministers in Cardiff yesterday began seeking the right to legislate over the Welsh language when they unveiled a long-awaited request to transfer powers ...
Private firms are be ordered to provide services in Welsh
Suppliers of utilities could be forced to use the Welsh language when they provide services, under plans being put forward by the Welsh Assembly. ..
Private firms and utility companies forced to offer services
Daily Mail
Utilities and private firms in Wales could be forced to print all their bills and literature in both English and Welsh...
Bid to safeguard right to speak Welsh
News Wales
A move to create a truly bilingual Wales by transferring powers over the Welsh language from Westminster to the Assembly Government was announced today. ...
Welsh Assembly wants power over language issues
Daily Post
ASSEMBLY ministers are expected to launch a formal bid today for the transfer of powers to pass laws over the Welsh language in Wales. ...
Welsh language plan for private firms
Under the 1993 Welsh Language Act, public sector bodies are legally obliged to communicate with the public through Welsh and English. .
BBC News
Ann Beynon from BT says the telecom company would prefer Welsh language services to remain voluntary. A bid by the Welsh Assembly Government for more powers ...
BBC News
Lord Elis Thomas, assembly presiding officer, said the bid for Wales to make its own laws on the Welsh language was a "hugely significant day".
Scrap the Welsh Affairs Select Committee
And that’s why we can expect an almighty ding-dong after tomorrow, when the long-awaited Welsh Language LCO sees the light of day. ..
Language move needn’t be an excuse to re-run tired old rows
I MAKE it 18 months since the Labour-Plaid coalition in the Assembly announced they wanted new powers over Welsh language legislation. ..
El Gobierno galés presenta hoy una ley para impulsar el uso
El Confidencial, Sbaen
Desde la aprobación en 1993 del llamado Welsh Language Act (Ley sobre el Gaélico), que equiparaba esa lengua, de origen celta, al inglés en el sector .