Monday, May 25, 2009

Brittany - A Nation Reborn

The French Cup Final on Saturday 9 May was anything but French! The two teams in the Final were both Breton; Gwengamp (a small town) and the capital of Brittany, Roazon (Rennes). The euphoria surrounding the event it seems to me will renew Breton confidence and politics for a generation to come.

Not only did the French press make much of the event - the sports daily Equipe gave a Breton make over but the Bretons made most of the day.

The nationalist Parti Breton asked for the Breton national anthem, Bro Goz ma Zadou (Hen Wlad fy Nhadau - literally the same title and same tune as ours) to be sung before the final a la Cardiff City at Wembley last year. Of course, the French wouldn't allow that, but they did allow the Bretons to sing their anthem before the game (that's big of them!) ... and tens of thousands did.

A huge Breton flag the Gwenn ha Du (yes, gwyn a du - white and black) covered a good part of one of the stands and thousands of Breton flags were flown with pride. To tell the truth, I'd be damned if I could see any French tricoleurs being flown by the fans at all.

This is incredible. After two hundred years of the awful French republic which has tried its best to kill off any significant sign of Breton language and culture beyond the folkloric, the events on Saturday prove that the Bretons are a nation reborn. Their flag is the Gwenn ha Du, their anthem is being confirmed as Bro Goz ma Zadou and they're not a cowered and beaten nation which the French have come to expect. That Breton, the nation like Kurdish, so long humiliated by the French like the Kurds by the Turks, is still fighting is proof that the French state has not won.

The Breton, for so long humiliated by the French and the French state (and it is a French state) have turned a corner. There's no turning back. I don't expect Brittany to become independent any time soon, but with this historic football event, the ongoing campaign for the reunification of Naoned (Nantes) with Brittany and the continuing call for Breton status, Brittany is on the march. President Sarkozy stayed away - a quite incredible decision for a head of state. Maybe after implying he'd support reunification of Nantes he didn't want 80,000 booing him and making him keep to his word.

All in all, a historic day for Brittany. A Nation Awakes. Good news for the Breton language and culture and all who believe that the beauty of Europe is the plurality of her languages and her peoples.

Good for Leanne, Alun Ffred and Jenny Randerson

Had a quick look at the Western Mail phone around asking the AMs for their view of the Assembly's achievements over the last 10 years.

Wasn't much to say really - Labour spend the first 8 doing as little as possible so as not to upset London. A lot of stuff about the Children's Commissioner - who's done sod all to change the life of any kid in Wales as far as I can see. Some stuff about 'free' (working people pay for it) transport and 'free' prescriptions, and erm, that's it. Not much to boast about. Some of the answers (if important in their own way) were very parochial for a Q&A in national, as opposed to, local paper.

The much-respected John Griffiths, Newport spoke some sense (he usually does) but my hat is donned to Jenny Randerson, Alun Ffred and Leanne Wood for actually saying that one of the achievements of the National Assembly was to do something about one of the biggest things that makes us special and unique as a nation. Not just hospitals, buses nor parking, but the Welsh language. Good on them.

However, one hopes to God that in 10 years time, the Assembly Members will have much more to boast about.

Labour Voters are Racists?

So, has Kinnock admitted that a large section of traditional Labour voters are racists when he says the BNP can attract votes from his party?

Is the former Labour leader dog whistling to appeal to the less attractive side of Welsh Labour voters? Can one imagine were Ieuan Wyn Jones to say 'Plaid needs to do something in case our traditional voters go over to the BNP?' Hmm, you can hear the Labour attack dogs barking at the press straight away!

So, how do Labour apologists and members think this sounds to Welsh nationalists (and Tories for that matter)? Years of inane comparisons between Welsh nationalism and racism/Nazism endless quoting of a couple of sentences by Saunders Lewis or misquotes of Dafydd Iwan or Simon Glyn or Dafydd Glyn Jones or any one else who raises any issue other than schoolsandhospitals? It really does grate.

Are most Labour supporters racist? No, I don't think (though a fair number have hostile views towards Welsh medium education). But no, they are not! Are the BNP a threat? Yes. Do I like the BNP? No. Trouble is, after years of having Labour accuse good people who are Welsh nationalists of being xenophobic or racist, I've started thinking to myself, 'hmm, aybe Labour are just calling wolf here too? If they were wrong with Plaid/Cymdeithas/Cymuned over the years, what's to say they're not wrong with the BNP?'

And you know what, it seems to me that a good part of the traditional (read 'white' English-speaking Britishers) of the Welsh Labour party have maybe come, independently and from a different position, to the same conclusion. Labour are to blame for the rise in the BNP. Difference is, I won't be voting for the BNP in June but it seems a lot of Labour people will.