Sunday, January 03, 2010

Rhodri and Saunders

I saw Rhodri Morgan's interview on 29 December and a few paragraphs stood out. He said:

“It never crossed my mind
[joining Plaid Cymru]. I can remember actually realising that for some reason there was a generation of young people about the same age as me who got terribly agitated over a speech made by Saunders Lewis [Plaid Cymru president 1926-1939] in 1964."

“This young man – he was sitting round in the Swansea Eisteddfod – was so worked up by what Saunders had said, saying we must go out and support him, I just sort of realised at that point there was something going on in that man’s mind which was definitely not going on in my mind.”

Mr Morgan’s father TJ Morgan, a distinguished professor of Welsh, had been a supporter of WJ Gruffydd, the candidate who defeated Lewis in the hard-fought University of Wales parliamentary by-election in 1943. The ex-First Minister said:

“He [Gruffydd] didn’t think Saunders was a fit and proper person to become an MP, and I don’t think my father did either. Saunders could make speeches and was a very good playwright, and that was it. But as an MP it never crossed my mind that he was a figure of influence.”

Quite a shocking quote really. So, in 1964ish Rhodri Morgan in a rather condescending way couldn't get worked up about Saunders Lewis's speech. So, Rhodri Morgan, following another census return which saw the Welsh language accelerate its downward spiral couldn't get 'worked up' about it? What kind of a Welshman can't get worked up about his native language dying? Would he be so blaze about the Wales rugby team losing every consecutive game since 1901? Would the average Labour party member be so blaze were the English language to fall of a cliff? No, this blaze, dressed up as internationalism, is part of the DNA of the 'Welsh' Labour party.

Saunders Lewis 'not fit' to be an MP? I'd agree that Saunders wasn't cut out to be an MP. He was too honest for that. I don't say that in a pejorative way, but being an MP of any party, requires a level of social skill and what could be called ability to be careful with the truth, which SL didn't possess. He was a writer and thinker not a politician. But I can't think he was 'not fit' to be an MP. What and all those long-forgotten Labour MPs were? So being institutionally anti-Welsh (like a good majority) of Labour MPs were - is OK. Being for state socialism which saw the nationalisation of Thomas Cook among other barmy ideas - is OK. Campaigning against Welsh language education - OK. Sucking up to the English establishment and Monarchy - OK. Lewis was no less fit to be an MP than the vast majority of Labour MPs.

In another part of the interview. Morgan says he was inspired by JFK. OK, fair enough, he was a charismatic figure who brought hope to the Cold War generation, but isn't there something missing that a Welsh person, an intelligent Welsh person, projects his aspirations and fears through the politics and policies of another country which he isn't a part of. And that, at the same time, a new, young, radical, peaceful movement, in the spirit of the Black civil rights movement in his own country doesn't 'agitate' him.

Did the young socialist Morgan, not think for one moment, that the language he spoke with his parents in its own country, was in grave danger because the forces of consumer culture, capitalism and status was mitigated against it? Didn't that in any way strike a chord with him? Did he not for one minute just think it was a bit odd that the aforementioned Eisteddfod in Swansea was held in a city which had not one official sign in the Welsh language? Was it not odd that Welsh had not official status in its own country? Maybe Morgan is from that category of Welshman who saw Welsh as being quite nice but really was past its sell-by date and, in the interest of World socialism and internationalism, should just be allowed go quietly into the night?

Morgan is an intelligent man, he's not some bloke who never thinks about abstract ideas. So, the casual, standard, anti-Welsh line of the Labour party that this isn't 'what ordinary people want' doesn't wash (although for thousands of ordinary Welsh people the language was a big issue). Why didn't Morgan have any interest in a new secular type of Welsh language culture - was Welsh just for the past and English the language of the 'white heat of technology'. I don't know.

In any case, it's caused a dislocation between Labour and the Welsh language where any foreign cause, no matter how obscure (Africa is a perennial popular one) is more interesting and less threatening than the Welsh language. Unfortunately, Morgan and much of the Labour party seem ill at ease in modern Welsh language culture - it seems beneath them or alien or 'too Welshie'. It's a pity, a great pity, because had the young Morgan been just a little less condescending towards his own language then Welsh history and the story of the Welsh language since then could have been much brighter and more interesting. Certainly more interesting than following the latest American election in which Morgan could play no part.

Things Are Moving in Catalonia

The recent referenda on independence held at 160 Catalan municipalities has raised the issue and temperature in Catalonia!

Now, a poll published in the daily El Periodico (which is published as separate Catalan and Spanish editions every day) has found that the public is evenly split on being for and against independence with 20% undecided.

If one takes into account that the poll probably asked people of all backgrounds on their views on the subject then my guess is that a majority of Catalan people are in favour of independence with many of the antis (not all of course) would include 'native' Catalans, people of Spanish decent, Latin American and other nationalities who've moved to the country. It would be interesting to know.

The people who've moved to the UK are by a vast majority very supportive of British independence so, would 'British' people of any political persuasion, be happy to see recent immigrants decide on the constitutional future of the UK? Or the Tibetans happy to see their constitutional future decided by Han Chinese?

Is it also the case that the central Spanish government sees the movement of people into Catalonia as a way of keeping Catalonia a part of Spain in the same way as pro-Belgian Francophones see immigrants to Belgium (who tend to be Francophone) as being voters for the continuation of Belgium and promoters of the French rather than Dutch language? I don't know, Just asking.

Also interesting is the definition of Catalans as a nation (52% among people in Catalonia - the same split again?) whereas the rest of Spain don't see Catalans as a nation (80% against).

Funny that Catalonia with its own language, government which celebrates its 650 anniversary this year and who fought a war of liberation in 1714 is not a nation whilst 'imagined communities' created by the landed elites means that Spanish people recognise such 'nations' as Uruguay, Chile or Columbia!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Catalan News Blackout on BBC and Western Mail

As one comment on Syniadau'r blog put it, it seems the Catalans will have to start killing people if they want their cause to be covered by the BBC or the 'Welsh' press.

Many of you may know that because the Spanish Constitution (which can't be changed because it was given by God on Mount Sinai) doesn't allow a democratic referendum on independence for Catalonia or the Basque Country. The Catalans have side-stepped the band and are holding a series of referenda on 13 December on the subject in some 150 local councils.

This is big news. But, not big enough for the BBC or the Western Mail. Vaughan Roderick gave is a quick mensh a few weeks ago and there was a piece in Golwg360 as Jill Evans Plaid MEP will be in Catalonia as an observer. Other news which is covered in BBC Europe online include a hunger strike by a Western Saraha dissident (another Spanish colony) and conseiderations by Turkey to ban the pro-Kurdish DTP party . So, the subject of minority righst, or independence movements isn't a problem for the press, it's just that, well, by not killing people or threatening to kill people or not being attacked by tanks or water canons, the Catalan cause isn't deemed newsworthy.

However the big story is that Spain, unlike the UK, which, would in theory at least, allow a referendum on independence for Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales won't allow a similar democratic vote for the constituent nations of their state. The Catalans, like the Basques and Galicians, predate the Spanish state. Catalonia is only a part of Spain because they lost a war of independence in the early 18C - a cause which Westminster supported.

Spain isn't Turkey, but denying a referendum on independence for a European nation within the EU, a nation which has not used violence or intimination is news. Is Spain the kind of EU member state we want to have?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Glasgow North East

Lots of talk been on Celtic nationalist blogs about the Labour hold at the Glasgow North East even on the Welsh blogger site, Grangetown Jack.

It's a terrible indictment that after 75 years of holding the seat, 12 years of power in Westminster (and several other stints) and 8 years in power in Holyrood - Labour blame the SNP (who've been in power at Edinburgh for 18 months) for Glasgow North East's ills! Yes, you couldn't make it up.

That the SNP failed to take the seat is also an indictment.

The best analysis I've read is in The Times. It'd be worth Plaid supporters, policy makers and politicians taking time to read it too.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Remembrance Day

You've got to admire the gall of British nationalism. The Remembrance Day and wearing the poppy especially.
There are two things going on. On one hand the Remembrance Day is a sort of pseudo pacifist event to remember the waste of World War One especially... conveniently forgetting that it was British nationalism that got us into the war. The other is basically an armed forces flag day.
I'm not a pacifist and don't begrudge either paying respects to men and women who've died in combat. As a Welsh nationalist I believe that they, and their families, deserve that from the state to which they gave their lives.
But the hypocrisy of British nationalism tries to have it both ways. The pacifistic side is basically 'all nationalism are bad and lead to war (like the Great War) ergo, Welsh nationalism will lead to war'. Failing to mention that it war British nationalism and the British national narrative which lead us into war and so, rather than fighting Welsh nationalism, Welsh people should be fighting British nationalism and British nationalism dressed as 'normal' and 'acceptable' and 'civic pride'.
The second armed forces day side of Remembrance Day says some soldiers are good, some are not. So, a commemoration to remember Glyn Rowlands the former FWA member in Machynlleth is followed by the Special Branch. Services to remember an army which as well as fighting a good war against Nazis also fought more 'bad wars' in South Africa, Kenya (well, all Africa), Malaysia, America, Ireland (do I need to go on?), WWI is 'good'.
I remember those brave soldiers, and those like Hedd Wyn, every day of my life. That's why I wish to see the end of the British state. I'm fed up of seeing Welsh men die fighting for Britain. What right or business does a Welshman have killing Indians, Zulus, Irish, Kenyans or others?
The British nation state is a state built on military conquest. It is a state where the military is totally central to its narrative and collective cohesion. And now we see Labour, the ultimate Brit Nat party, sending men to war to feed the insatiable appetite of this state for military endeavours, because as they know, Britain with out an active military, is just Belgium on stilts. There will then be nothing that the British state can do, which its constituent nations as free countries, couldn't do better.
Without war and the memory of war (dressed up as pacifism and militarism), the British state is an empty vassal.

No more Welsh men fighting British wars!

Monday, November 09, 2009

Eorpa's Back!

The best current affairs programme on UK network? It's got to be Eorpa on BBC Alba (the new Gaelic language channel).
Items from across Europe and also Scotland makes this an interesting and insightful series. Much more interesting than anything on S4C or any English language serive and without the 'Europe is cuddly, little nations with their silly languages' feel of Euronews.
For all non-Gaelic speakers - it's no problem. There's on-screen English subtitling. Go over to BBCi and check it out.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Wales in Catalan

Being an internationalist movement, the Welsh national movement has close links and affinity with other state-less nations. One of the most successful in terms of political power and language regeneration (not to talk of economy - and yes, there is a link) is Catalonia. And it seems the affinity is reciprocated.

For all those Catalan-speakers, there's a new site about Wales and the other Celtic nations. La Llengua de drac - the dragon's language, surely - is a great addition to the Welsh and Catalan blogesphere. (If, like me, you don't speak Catalan, you can use googletranslate).

There's also an article in the Catalan daily, El Punt about Rhodri Morgan. In it Rhodri tries to outline Wales's insulting and confusing constitional mess to the Catalans - the mess his party got us into to keep happy it's Brit Nat section!