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Fall in Welsh-only and rise in British identity in Wales, census suggests

29 Nov 2022 2 minute read
AUOB Cymru march for Welsh independence in Wrexham. Picture by Lluniau Lleucu

There has been a slight decrease in those saying that they are Welsh-only in Wales between 2011 and 2021, the new census results reveal.

55.2% of people selected a “Welsh” only identity in Wales in 2021, a decrease from 57.5% in 2011.

Meanwhile, 18.5% of people selected a “British” only identity – an increase from 16.9% in 2011.

The number of people selecting both Welsh and British identities rose to 8.1% from 7.1% in 2011.

Merthyr Tydfil, Rhondda Cynon Taf and Caerphilly had the highest percentage of Welsh identifiers at 69-70%, according to the census.

Flintshire, Monmouthshire and Powys had the least.

Across Wales and England, there was a fall in the percentage of people identifying as Welsh-only from 3.7% to 3.2% –  2,053,419 to 1,908,644.

Meanwhile, English-only identity saw a large fall in England. 15.3% of people selected an “English” only identity – a decrease from 60.4% in 2011.

However, the ONS said that changes in England might be influenced by the fact that ‘British’ became the top response option in 2021.

“While the increase in the number of usual residents describing their national identity as ‘British’ and the fall in the number describing their national identity as ‘English’ may partly reflect true change, it is most likely to be a result of the changes to the question structure where ‘British’ became the top response option in 2021 for England only,” they said.

In Wales, however, Welsh was the first option, which may have increased the percentage choosing that option.

Religion

The census also showed that less than half the population of Wales now consider themselves Christian.

Wales had a greater fall in people reporting their religion as Christian than across England and Wales as a whole.

Wales saw a fall to 43.6% in 2021 from 57.6% in 2011.

Those giving a response of “no religion” saw a 14.5 percentage point rise from 32.1% in 2011 to 46.5% in 2021.

Flintshire, Anglesey and Conwy were the only three local authority areas with more than half of people calling themselves Christian.


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Tanwg
Tanwg
2 months ago

No wonder, with the amount of Sais immigrants living in Cymru, especially in Powys, NE and SW Cymru.

SundanceKid
SundanceKid
2 months ago
Reply to  Tanwg

Context is everything. The census captures change over a decade however it does not necessarily capture emerging trends in the last few years.
The independence movement in Wales has only really gotten off the ground in the last three years. It could be the case that the number of Welsh identifiers has risen in the last three years.

Kenneth Vivian
Kenneth Vivian
1 month ago
Reply to  SundanceKid

The Welsh have certainly ‘gotten’ more Americanized in recent times.

SundanceKid
SundanceKid
1 month ago
Reply to  Kenneth Vivian

I didn’t realise that Nation was being patrolled by the grammar police.

Rashunalwales
Rashunalwales
2 months ago

100,000 fewer people identifying as Welsh only. Unless the same number have net emmigrated out- that is huge drop give

Resteless shade of the assassinated Tywysog Lloegr
Resteless shade of the assassinated Tywysog Lloegr
2 months ago
Reply to  Rashunalwales

I suspect it is a function of the relative political situation at the time of the census. Were the census held today, I think you might find more people identifying as Welsh only.
There are plenty of fluctuations between censuses. For example in 2011 I was British Welsh, or Welsh British (I forget which. I have been both). Since 26th June 2016 I have been Welsh. Or Welsh European. Now just Welsh.

Resteless shade of the assassinated Tywysog Lloegr
Resteless shade of the assassinated Tywysog Lloegr
2 months ago

On a brighter note, the most popular religion in Cymru is NO Religion

Rhufawn Jones
Rhufawn Jones
2 months ago

Well no wonder, with all the housing being built for colonists.

Julie Jones
Julie Jones
2 months ago

Since Covid four family houses in my street have been sold – all to couples or families from London, Swindon or the English Midlands. Wonder how they’ll identify themselves in the 2031 Census? Expect to see this trend continuing as more people decide to come to Cymru for “the cheap, good life”, and we will see more areas become ‘minority Welsh’.

George Thomas
George Thomas
2 months ago
Reply to  Julie Jones

You can’t stop that happening though. It’s not a second home, it’s not a holiday home, it’s people wanting to come to live in Wales. What we can do is make sure they feel welcome, make sure they and their children know Welsh history (the challenges and opportunities, the friendship and togetherness of being Welsh) and allow them to go out into the world where presumably even they’ll still get the anti-Welsh comments thus making them more proud of the place they came from. America has millions and millions of immigrants over their history but so many of them become… Read more »

Resteless shade of the assassinated Tywysog Lloegr
Resteless shade of the assassinated Tywysog Lloegr
2 months ago
Reply to  George Thomas

This. Make them feel welcome. We are none of us “pure” Welsh. Even my mother who can trace her roots in Cymru back as far as records go, has blue eyes from Norway. When Cymru lets someone into her heart, that someone lets Cymru into theirs

Last edited 2 months ago by Resteless shade of the assassinated Tywysog Lloegr
Gwion
Gwion
1 month ago
Reply to  George Thomas

Immigrants to America learn the language and their children go to American schools. Unfortunately, people moving here are given the option of ‘english schools’ and never adopt our culture.
Secondly, not many countries have 20% of its population born in another country. Cymru makes little effort to change the lack of cultural integration because so many of our political representatives doff their cap to the UnionJack and don’t see this as a problem.

Cai Edwards
Cai Edwards
2 months ago
Reply to  Julie Jones

With cities such as Leicester and Birmingham now native minority, this doesn’t surprise me at all. I even heard a conversation in the park the other day from an English woman who’d moved to the area ‘because it’s what England used to be not long ago’. Her words, not mine. The writing seems to be on the wall I’m afraid. I just don’t buy this argument of civic nationalism and that an English person who comes to Wales is suddenly Welsh. It’s intellectually dishonest and reduces ethnicity and national identity to a ‘feeling only’. Same goes for any other nationality… Read more »

Restless shade of the assassinated Tywysog Lloegr
Restless shade of the assassinated Tywysog Lloegr
2 months ago
Reply to  Cai Edwards

Has somebody crashed the Stormfront website again? Do you believe in the myth of “racial purity” by any chance? You sound like you do.

Last edited 2 months ago by Restless shade of the assassinated Tywysog Lloegr
Riki
Riki
2 months ago

But they are the same thing. We as a people have forgotten that fact. Wales are the only ones that can say that, The English are British converts.

Resteless shade of the assassinated Tywysog Lloegr
Resteless shade of the assassinated Tywysog Lloegr
2 months ago
Reply to  Riki

Actually the English are British who have forgotten they are not Saxon. Genetic studies by Cambs Uni in about 2012 I think, revealed that Saxon and Norman combined makes up no more than 5% of most people’s genetics. WE are ALL with any genetic roots in Britain in the order of 80% indigenous with small sprinklings of Saxon, Pict, Norse, Roman, Irish. Different waves of invaders have not had a significant difference on what our origins are. The truth is genetically English does not exist. Only culturally English. This has proven hard for them to accept. We are all actually… Read more »

Last edited 2 months ago by Resteless shade of the assassinated Tywysog Lloegr
Riki
Riki
2 months ago

Maybe, they would reject it because if it were true, that would in fact make them Cymraeg. Oh can you imagine the scenes in London were they to realise something so Disastrous. Personally don’t believe it though, If they were British, why the need to Get rid of, or make out Wales doesn’t exist to foreigners?

Resteless shade of the assassinated Tywysog Lloegr
Resteless shade of the assassinated Tywysog Lloegr
2 months ago
Reply to  Riki

Dunno. The DNA record suggests it is true though. Maybe it was more of a “cultural” invasion, in the same way that Celtic culture was. There is very little / no archaeological evidence of mass slaughter of the indigenous inhabitants by Saxons. I think it’s simply a case that after the mainland European Saxon Alliance fractured, some migrated to Britain to settle. Others came invading, with varying degrees of failure / success, some successfully married into tribal chieftainships and others just brought over Saxon culture. It’s not atypical for Britons to have embraced new shiny stuff from overseas. We used… Read more »

SundanceKid
SundanceKid
2 months ago

It was my understanding that according to archaeogenetic studies, the people of Gaul, Iberia, Britain and Ireland were all related by DNA. Even Tacitus suggested the Silures of what is now, South Wales, were loosely related to the Celtiberian tribes, not just by culture, but by ancestry. Therefore, it cannot be the case that there were no “Celtic” peoples. The term might be the incorrect one to apply but there is plenty of evidence that these people were descended from one and the same. I would suggest perhaps that use of the word “Celtic” to describe these peoples is particularly… Read more »

Last edited 2 months ago by SundanceKid
Restless shade of the assassinated Tywysog Lloegr
Restless shade of the assassinated Tywysog Lloegr
2 months ago
Reply to  SundanceKid

Tacitus is an unreliable narrator. DNA does not care about opinions. Barry Cunliffe, one of the world’s leading experts on “Celts” challenges the use of the term at all, not really giving credence to the Celtiberian theory beyond acknowledging it was a misunderstanding of the Romans. Most theories of “Celts” focus on the discredited “from Halstatt out” instead of the more credible “from the West, North and East” Whilst admittedly “Celtic” (EG Iberian) DNA exists in the “national genome” it is on no larger proportion than any of the other migrations (Roman, Saxon, Norse etc) approx 5% each generally. I… Read more »

SundanceKid
SundanceKid
2 months ago

It’s not about racial purity from my perspective and I am not remotely interested in exploring that part of the debate, it is just history to explore patterns of population migrations. As said, today, the connection is largely historical, cultural and to a lesser degree, linguistic. It doesn’t really matter what term we use to describe them. Archaeogenetic research by Stephen Oppeheimer and later studies carried out in 2015 suggests there were familial connections between the various tribes we might call “Celts”. Tacitus got his second-hand information from the Romans but their information was not really unreliable on this count.… Read more »

Last edited 2 months ago by SundanceKid
Vengeful revenant of y Tywysog Lloegr
Vengeful revenant of y Tywysog Lloegr
2 months ago
Reply to  SundanceKid

Tacitus was a Roman on campaign with a Roman general. What is the evidence the Romans were right on this matter? You agree with it. But is that evidence? Latest findings using more mature understanding of genealogical DNA is as I have stated. I think you misunderstood my comment re-:racial purists. These are what turned me AWAY from this area since the concept is patently absurd. Anyone who takes an interest in population movement knows that it is never as simple as 1st wave, 2nd wave, 3rd wave. I am merely stating, again, that DNA (still growing in maturity) is… Read more »

Vengeful revenant of y Tywysog Lloegr
Vengeful revenant of y Tywysog Lloegr
2 months ago

And yes. I also read Stephen Oppenheimer’s “Origins of the British” which might have more honestly named “Justifications for the English”. But I guess we all draw different conclusions from it.

SundanceKid
SundanceKid
2 months ago

There is plenty of evidence to suggest that they were correct in this regard! It has been established that Welsh, Cornish and Breton are a subdivision of the Celtic languages of Ancient Gaul and Southern Britian, known as Brythonic or “P-Celtic”. Scottish and Irish Gaelic are categorised as Goidelic (or “Q Celtic”). Both branches are descended from a common ancestral tongue according to the most up to date linguistic research. Therefore, in assuming that these peoples shared a common tongue, the Romans weren’t wrong were they! When it comes to DNA interpretation, it need not be so regimented as to… Read more »

Kenneth Vivian
Kenneth Vivian
1 month ago

In racial terms celts have never been a more distinctive group than, say, Hindus or christians. The term Celtic describe s a cultural feature not a genetic characteristic

Riki
Riki
2 months ago

Also, if they have willingly become turncoats, I say that disqualifies them from saying such a thing. They are no longer British, English. I say let them live out their misery.

Paul
Paul
2 months ago

As someone who responded that he was “Welsh – European” on the census I would not be counted as a Welsh-only response. I wonder how many simply put European as a comment on Brexit.

SundanceKid
SundanceKid
2 months ago
Reply to  Paul

Good point. And I’m guessing a fair few pro-EU people living in Wales would have ticked that response.

Richard
Richard
2 months ago
Reply to  Paul

I did

Mr Williams
Mr Williams
2 months ago
Reply to  Richard

I did too.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
2 months ago

Look, If you are truly loyal to your country should always identify as Welsh first, although my true nationality is Cymry not Welsh and my nation is called Cymru not Wales. As said previously , we be are not a foreigners in our own native land as the Germanic slight Welsh & Wales refers to. Always keep this in mind. For example. If you were black would you be happy calling yourself the N -word? Obviously not. Because it’s an ethnic slur. So why call yourself Welsh when it denotes you as a foreigner when the real foreigners are the… Read more »

Wrexhamian
Wrexhamian
2 months ago

It’s not a fall in numbers but a percentage drop relative to a non-Welsh increase owing to democratic change, some of it triggered by covid-19 and the ‘race for space’.

Wrexhamian
Wrexhamian
2 months ago
Reply to  Wrexhamian

Sorry, ‘demographic’.

Benjiman Angwin
Benjiman Angwin
2 months ago

Cymraeg is the most British thing alive – Chilterns is High Kingdom in Old Welsh. Most Welsh value their culture’s roots, the census shows it, and no matter the hostile comments a federal UK is best to reflect who Wales is now.

Last edited 2 months ago by Benjiman Angwin
SundanceKid
SundanceKid
2 months ago

But, as you can see from the survey and the comments, there is deep concern that the number of those who value their culture, history and heritage is declining. The results of the survey are nothing to celebrate if you believe Welsh culture is worth preserving.

Furthermore, a federal UK will never happen. It doesn’t even command majority support among the Labour membership!

Last edited 2 months ago by SundanceKid
Crwtyn Cemais
Crwtyn Cemais
2 months ago

So : Chilterns = Uchel + Teyrnas (High + Kingdom) ? An interesting theory, indeed. When you consider that Malvern = Moel + Fryn (Bryn – softly mutated), is accepted as such, then the etymology of Chilterns as ‘High Kingdom’ is perfectly plausible.

George Thomas
George Thomas
2 months ago

People will increasingly move around and families will become mixed culturally. It’s almost always a very good thing and people being Welsh + something else (even English) will increasingly be the norm. Take lesson from the good things the FAW have done over past decade though and increase knowledge of Welsh history, of a togetherness and friendship and challenge and opportunity that being Welsh brings. Even if we achieve independence, we’re probably not going to be looking at a hard border due to trade necessities. What we don’t want is a return to “Wales: see England” so we’ll need to… Read more »

Cai Edwards
Cai Edwards
2 months ago

So in sum, Wales is pretty much staying the same if not actually disappearing slowly. An ethnically diversifying urban England goes hand in hand with English migration to Wales. It is not racist to say this, it just seems to be the trend on the streetscape in our towns and villages and this is reflected in the census figures. How can anyone push for independence for a nation where only a slight majority, 55pc, cares enough to identify with it? I’m just at a loss for words right now, and I think a great deal of people feel the same… Read more »

SundanceKid
SundanceKid
2 months ago
Reply to  Cai Edwards

We have started to wake up to this danger as a country, but we have a long way to go, no two ways about it.

Despite this landscape, the number of those supporting independence has risen significantly so not all is lost.

We need to continue to get the message out there and we need to be clear that Westminster is the problem, not England.

I.Humphrys
I.Humphrys
2 months ago

Well, I live in Scandinavia, and every time I return to Cymru, I notice things like friends are now learning Cymraeg. It is jaw dropping for me as some of these were almost anti Welsh in the past. Therefore, I don’t accept this poll at all!

SundanceKid
SundanceKid
1 month ago
Reply to  I.Humphrys

I think that prior to say, 2018, Welsh identity may well have been on the decline.

However, I do feel this may have been offset by a rise in the last threr years, brought on by the Pandemic and cost-of-living crisis.

There’s quite a few on here as well who say they, or others they know, identified as Welsh “European” or Welsh other, and that may also skew the figures.

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