Category: Wales / Cymru

March 1st. Dydd Gwyl Dewi. St. David’s Day. The patron saint of Wales. The sun is shining. What a great day to be Welsh.

Even Google is getting in on the act.

In fact, what better day to ask a question – What is ‘Welsh’.

What is it that makes me inherently (and if you’ve ever met me, obviously) Welsh, and not English or British or whatever?

I’d like to first set out my biases – I’m Welsh, I was born in Wales (in St. Asaph/Llanelwy) and raised in Wales (Rhyl). I was taught through the Welsh language, from the age of 2 at Ysgol Dewi Sant in Rhyl, until graduating from the excellent Ysgol Uwchradd Glan Clwyd in Llanelwy at the age of 18. I am a proud and passionate Welshman.

I have no idea what it means to be Welsh.

I don’t want to distinguish myself in terms of an ‘other’. I want to stand for something, not merely be “not-English”.

I don’t believe Welshness is inherent in being born in Wales, speaking Welsh or being ethnically Welsh. I know people who meet all three who are English, British or other. I know people who meet none of those criteria, yet are some of the most passionate Welsh men and women you could ever care to meet. I speak English, it’s my first language, yet I’m not English. I speak Welsh, but that doesn’t inherently make me Welsh. I’m, ethnically, not really all that Welsh, being equally as much, if not more, English in my DNA. I don’t believe where you’re born should determine your nation.

I believe that being Welsh is open to anyone who feels, deep in their heart, a love of that glorious country, and an inherent Welshness in their heart.

But what is that Welshness.

So, today, I’m going to write a blog on some thoughts on this.

I’m asking you to contribute. Whether Welsh or not, give me your thoughts, your take on what it means to be Welsh.

1) Music and Culture are, obviously, core. From Welsh Male Voice Choirs, Katherine Jenkins, Charlotte Church, Tom Jones and Shirley Bassey to Funeral for a Friend, Supper Furry Animals, Goldie Lookin’ Chain, Bullet for my Valentine, Manic Street Preachers, Lostprophets…. and our integral love of rugby. Like most things on this list, these aren’t unique to Wales, but it goes deep into the culture and psyche. It’s almost like there’s a single melody, a harmony, travelling through the hearts of each and every one…

2) Education is crucial for the Welsh. Going back to Owain Glyndwr, the political and military leader of Wales, who wanted a Parliament, separate church and two national universities for the country. We believe in education for the masses, even with William Morgan, Bishop of Llandaff and St. Asaph, who translated the Bible into Welsh.

3) Non-conformist religion is embedded in Wales – perhaps a relic of our Druidic celtic past, the Methodist revival of the 18th Century gave Wales a non-conformist, dissenting outlook on life.

4) It is often assumed that the Welsh are more democratic, more liberal, more tolerant, more classless than people from many other areas of Britain.

5) Let’s face it, we’re a parochial bunch, rarely concerned with business outside our valley. We have to come to terms with this in a globalised world.

6)  Hiraeth is one of those untranslatable words. It’s similar to… a mix between longing, homesickness and nostalgia. A desperate, tugging need, deep in your breast to be in this mythical, wonderful place… which may never have truly existed, but is so deep in your psyche you can never avoid it.

So that’s it for now. Just a few thoughts on a topic that’s made me wonder for a while…

So over to you…

What do you think makes the Welsh so… Welsh? Any comments welcome… unless they’re based around sheep jokes. Seriously guys, it gets tiring eventually.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

The Scottish Parliament Building in Holyrood, ...

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It’s been a few days since the results of council, Holyrood, Cardiff and Stormont elections, along with the all-important AV referendum, were revealed. The dust is settling, and it’s time to offer my take on the results.

The recent elections, despite appearances, were good for the progressive Left-wing parties in Britain. The Liberal Democrats suffered badly, and the people rejected AV, but the future may still be bright for us Spineless Liberals.

Let me explain….

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Caroline Lucas keynote speech at the autumn co...

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A letter in the Guardian from Sunday, arguing the main reasons why any British progressive, regardless of party politics, must support AV – summary offered here by the Letters From Europe blog.

If you are a centre-lefty like myself, just remember this – the Tories have regularly dominated politics in Britain, despite only being elected with 50% of the popular vote in 1900 and 1931. Every other time, left-wing infighting between Labourites, Liberal Democrats, Greens, and the Left Nationalists of the Celtic nations, have led to the Conservatives benefiting. We can’t let that continue any longer….

While not as entertaining as when explained to cats, the Guardian nonetheless has perhaps the most “authoritative” defense of the alternative vote system. It is signed by Labour shadow business secretary John Denham, Lib Dem energy and climate change secretary Chris Huhne, leader of the Green Party Caroline Lucas. I have long thought the British system – like the American – is thoroughly dysfunctional and undemocratic, robbing much of the elector … Read More

via Letters from Europe

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In a recent interview with the Daily Mail, the former Scottish Secretary for the Conservatives, Lord Forsyth, tried to raise fears about the Alternative Vote (AV) referendum being a threat, not only to First-Past-The-Post (FTPT) voting, but also to the union of the United Kingdom itself.

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Goldie Lookin Chain – of office? | Total Politics.

I love this video. It is my new favourite song.

But seriously, apparently Rhys Trantings/Xain from GLC is planning on standing as a Labour Councillor in Newport’s elections next year.

He can win. Easily. GLC are well known for being from Newport, specifically. He can easily beat off competition, if he’s serious.

Why not Plaid though? As he says in the song at the bottom of the linked-to article, Newport, “Big up to Plaid Cymru” – if they’re supportive of Plaid, and their general values, then why not stand as a Plaid councillor – they could do with the publicity, and the seat. Frankly, he’ll probably win – even just because Newport is a very Labourite area. I’d love to see him stand as a Tory, that would be hilarious. I wonder if  people would ignore him as a rightist, or embrace him as someone from Casnewydd…

Their other song “Newport (Ymerodraeth State of Mind)”, a parody of Empire State of Mind, talks about the Welsh Assembly saying “Thats in Cardiff so it don’t mean shit to me.” It actually reflects a sentiment, I would say, quite prevalent in Wales – Cardiff is not Wales. It is the main city, it has the Assembly, and most of the investment… but most of the rest of the country doesn’t seem to see this cash being circulated.  I need to look into this. Maybe move the capital to Caernarfon…