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‘I don’t like nationalism’, because it’s ‘insular’ says Shadow Welsh Secretary

15 Feb 2022 2 minute read
Jo Stevens on BBC Politics Wales

The Shadow Welsh Secretary has said she does not “like nationalism” because it’s “insular”.

But Jo Stevens, the Labour MP for Cardiff Central, denied that Keir Starmer, her party’s leader in Westminster, is a British “nationalist”, insisting that he is a “patriot”.

She made the comments during an episode of BBC Politics in Wales, in which she argued against Welsh independence, and suggested that if a Labour government was in power in Westminster, the UK would be “much better for everybody”.

In the interview BBC presenter James Williams suggested that Starmer “won’t go anywhere these days without a Union Jack behind him”.

James Williams asked: “What do you say to people who look at how much poverty there is in Wales, how much inequality, and say the UK doesn’t work for Wales?”

Jo Stevens replied: “I am a believer in the United Kingdom. I am a unionist. I don’t like nationalism. I don’t think it’s good. I worry about it. I’ve seen it across Europe. I see what it does.

“I respect people who want independence for Wales. I simply don’t agree that it’s the right answer for Wales and I think if you have mutual respect and cooperation between the four nations of the United Kingdom and the benefits that collective can bring with a different government in Westminster, that can be much better for everybody.”

‘What’s the difference’

James Williams said: “You say that you don’t like nationalism there but people would say look, what’s the difference between British and Welsh nationalism. Keir Starmer won’t go anywhere these days without a Union Jack behind him. That’s British nationalism isn’t it? What’s the difference?”

Jo Stevens replied: “I don’t think it is. I mean Keir patriot, in the way that all of us…”

James Williams interjected, saying: “Why’s one being nationalistic and that’s a bad thing, but one’s being patriotic.”

The unionist politician replied: “Because I think for me nationalism is insular, it’s looking inwards, it’s shielding away from the rest of the world rather than looking outwards.”


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Cat
Cat
7 months ago

Time to listen to those in the Labour Party who are patriotic for Wales and want Welsh Independence Jo

Glen
Glen
7 months ago
Reply to  Cat

All 3 of them.
Labour is a unionist party and no amount of wishful thinking by Plaid supporters is going to change that fact.

Dave
Dave
7 months ago
Reply to  Glen

Sorry Glen I understand your concerns but after 10 years of lobbying by us the members of Welsh Labour Cat is right and now time will tell

R W
R W
7 months ago

Does she think the Republic of Ireland is insular, or Latvia or Estonia or Luxembourg etc for that matter? If not, then why does she think an independent Wales would be insular? Just more Unionist nonsense!!

Gareth Wyn Jones
Gareth Wyn Jones
7 months ago
Reply to  R W

The only people applauding this type of talk are the tories

hdavies15
hdavies15
7 months ago

Jo is part of the red wing of Toryism.

Daf
Daf
7 months ago

Unfortunately, it is Labour politicians like Jo Stevens who are playing into the hands of the Tories.

Last edited 7 months ago by Daf
I.Humphrys
I.Humphrys
7 months ago
Reply to  Daf

In Scotland, they call Labour the Red Tories.

James
James
7 months ago
Reply to  I.Humphrys

Yer well in Scotland they love their name calling don’t they.

Dean Thomas
Dean Thomas
7 months ago

Like many in her party, Jo Stevens openly proclaim their Unionism but don’t realise that this Unionism is a binding mechanism for their ideology of (leftist) British nationalism. They then have the cheek to call themselves internationalist, which is merely the interweaving of nationalisms. At least interviews like this expose their flawed thinking.

Arwyn
7 months ago
Reply to  Dean Thomas

Labour’s Unionism enables Tory right wing British Nationalism over Wales. It’s not just flawed thinking … it’s disastrous. How many Tory governments must we suffer that we have never voted for. How many more generations in poverty? Is this what “outward looking patriotism” means?

Rob
Rob
7 months ago

British nationalism good, Welsh nationalism bad. This is like fighting fire with fire.

Arwyn
7 months ago

A wholly inadequate response. So by Steven’s reckoning, Adam Price is an “nationalist” whilst Keir Starmer is a “patriot” because when Starmer wraps himself in a Union Jack he’s being “outward looking” and someone like Price is being “insular.” Really? Entirely immature approach. We should be discussing Plaid Cymru’s policy on constitutional change which in to establish a Confederation of British Nation States. Come on Jo, let’s have a mature debate on Wales’ future. What about it Nation.Cymru? Ifan a’r tîm? What about delving into that policy? Get a series of analytic articles with a number of thoughtful contributors to… Read more »

I.Humphrys
I.Humphrys
7 months ago
Reply to  Arwyn

No to any kind of Fed. Con or otherwise. The furthest we should go is to get back into the European Union, which these days seems like returning to Paradise!

Last edited 7 months ago by I.Humphrys
Mark Hoffer
Mark Hoffer
7 months ago

High time I resumed my YesCymru sticker campaign.

JAD
JAD
7 months ago

Jo says “I think for me nationalism is insular, it’s looking inwards, it’s shielding away from the rest of the world rather than looking outwards.” … But wasn’t Keir Starmer only yesterday saying that there is no case for rejoining Europe? So who’s really inward looking here?

Nationalism in Wales comes directly from being treated unfairly for so long. We do not have any crazy notions of being an empire.

This is not rocket science Jo. People are fed up, and rightfully so.

Paul
Paul
7 months ago

This ‘insularity’ argument is utterly pathetic. It is jus a word salad nonsense objection to the very idea of a sovereign Cymru. There is no need to argue against it as it is not valid. If 740 years is not long enough to ‘show us the benefits of union’, then it is reasonable to conclude that there are none. Exactly as we would expect from any historical account of one country exploiting another for its own gain.

Glen
Glen
7 months ago

Why would anyone expect any different from a Labour MP.
Labour is as much a unionist party as the Tories.

Welsh_Siôn
Welsh_Siôn
7 months ago

Someone buy this … ahem … lady a dictionary.

And while you’re at it, remind her of that Dr. Johnson* quote:

“Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.”

[*No relation.
No Prime Minister’s were harmed in the composition of this post.
Piti garw.]

Cai Wogan Jones
Cai Wogan Jones
7 months ago

This is illogical. Unionism is inherently “insular” because it prevents the Welsh Government from developing formal relationships with countries beyond the shores of this island.

What could be more insular than Unionism?

Welsh_Siôn
Welsh_Siôn
7 months ago

To be repeated ad nauseam to her boss who came out yesterday with the soundbite,

“There is no case for re-joining the EU.”

I.Humphrys
I.Humphrys
7 months ago
Reply to  Welsh_Siôn

As I wrote above, even though it has it’s faults, looking at the EU feels a bit like Paradise Lost.

Gareth
Gareth
7 months ago

So, wave a union Jack and you are a patriot, seek self determination as a member of the UN, EU etc and it is insular. For several hundred years now, and counting, we have been bottom of the pile in this union, under all colour UK Gov’s, red blue and orange, and we always come last.Let us break free of this cycle and forge our own destiny, it can’t get worse than this. Does she not realise where we stand in this union, an after thought, where a Tory Gov minister cant even name the leader of the Tory party… Read more »

Stuart Cane
Stuart Cane
7 months ago

if you have mutual respect and cooperation…”

The fact that we don’t get either from Westminster under the Tories is what convinced me to join the Welsh independence cause.

David
David
7 months ago

Unionists are Nationalists.

Quornby
Quornby
7 months ago

Hypocrite

Dewi Williamswhat
Dewi Williamswhat
7 months ago

The term “nationalism” is constantly misapplied as a term of disparagement and in this sense is a misnomer. By the very definition of nationhood all independent nations on this globe were originally created as a result of nationalistic beliefs in a common identity. Where “nationalism” becomes soured is when it seeks domination over others and its tenets of belief are that it is superior to all others. Self-determination without these evil intentions surely is commendable aim of small or large nations. When Jo Stevens alludes to its insular nature she needs to explain how it is that we arrived at… Read more »

GW Atkinson
GW Atkinson
7 months ago

What is brexit then? The complete opposite?

Welsh_Siôn
Welsh_Siôn
7 months ago
Reply to  GW Atkinson

Indeed – was it not about, ‘taking back control’ (from those pesky Johnny Furriners, controlling ‘our’ [sic.] own borders and being able to make ‘our own’ [double sic.] laws?) But I think her own ambitions colour her perspectives, too. When {not ‘if’) we become independent there will be no place for a Minister Responsible for Western Colonies at Westminster – and it is that little sinecure with cockaded hat or pith helmet that she will be unable to claim as her own, were Starmer and his acolytes were to win a General Election. Still, I suppose, she could claim the… Read more »

Grayham Jones
7 months ago

Kick all English party’s out of wales that’s the Tories Labour and all Brexit party’s stop being little Englanders and and be proud to be welsh it’s time for a new wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿

Gareth
Gareth
7 months ago

One more thing, she says we will be better off under a Labour gov. When does she think this will come about. We have a serial liar running the UK into the ground, lies, cronyism, rule breaking, by those that made the rules, billions wasted , and in the middle of this the Tory party still won an election in Southend a couple if week ago. Labour in England has no hope of being elected if they cant dislodge the liar in no 10 with all this scandal.

MWiggs
MWiggs
7 months ago
Reply to  Gareth

As a constituent of Southend West, I think it’s important to specify that the by-election was uncontested by the other major parties (exc Reform) out of respect to the deceased individual who was murdered performing their role as a constituent MP. Essentially there was no left-wing or liberal candidate on the ballot. Context is everything. On that note, spoiled ballots (of which I am one) received the 2nd largest share of the vote which is noteworthy in and of itself. Of course, this is South Essex so it is unlikely that any other party would’ve secured the seat but who… Read more »

Malcolmrj
Malcolmrj
7 months ago

Looks to me that Wales can’t win labour party minister for Wales against WALES having any power and the conservative minister for Wales of the same mindset what chance have we got.the only hope we have is too vote for a party that whants INDEPENDENCE for WALES

Stephen Owen
Stephen Owen
7 months ago

British nationism is just as inward looking as any other nationalism

defaid
defaid
7 months ago

This is just Westminster myopia again.

I suspect that Jo speaks for (and to) the Labour Party and not for Llafur.

Of the Welsh I know who love this country and see a clear road out of the mess, in a global sense a far greater proportion are outward-looking than any selection of Brit patriots I’ve ever met.

There’s more to our world than the immediate neighbour.

Last edited 7 months ago by defaid
Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
7 months ago
Reply to  defaid

The Labour rhetoric about Wales being better off in the Union should increasingly be regarded as some kind of self-parody. The party has been trotting out different versions of that statement since it came into being over 100 years ago. As the late, great Welsh historian, Gwyn Alf Williams once pointed out, it’s not that Labour hasn’t delivered progress, it’s just that it’s failed to continue delivering. We may have a Welsh Office here, or a Senedd there, and we might get the odd bit of legislation for specifically Welsh issues, but all of it merely reinforces the status of… Read more »

Adrian Meagher
Adrian Meagher
7 months ago
Reply to  Padi Phillips

You want bilingual election material? How insular can you get???

Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
7 months ago

Who said that those who support independence as insular, inward looking people? I’m not – far from it! I want Wales to embrace cooperation with other countries, I want close cooperation with the other countries of the British isles and Europe. However, how we do that will be down to us in Wales, not a neglectful paliament 150 or more miles away. Wanting independence has nothing to do with nationalism and everything to do with trying to improve the lives of the people living in Wales. We’ve had enough of being poor, nows the time to make ‘ourselves’ prosperous.

Gareth Wyn Jones
Gareth Wyn Jones
7 months ago

Up to the next election in 2024 since 1979 Labour will have been in power for 2.88 years of every decade, yes the tories will have been in power 7.12 years in every 10, it is about the same ratio since 1905 when Labour was formed, in that time Cymru has never voted in the majority for the tories. Fact: Labour keeps the tories in power as it will not share power by advocating PR, you only have to look at these stats and start scratching your head and ask what Labour is really for?

David
David
7 months ago

Labour is there to keep the status quo & keep the Establishment in power.

hdavies15
hdavies15
7 months ago
Reply to  David

Never more so than now. Look how so many Tories put the muzzle on the nut Boris when he cited the Savile case in Parliament. The hard core establishment want Starmer in place, a safe pair of hands a safe option, not rocking the boat.

Ed Jones
Ed Jones
7 months ago

Call it patriotism then. Wales, if independent, is hardly likely to ever invade anyone is it?! Welsh Labour needs to realise that those at Westminster, red, blue or otherwise despise them, be brave and go for it – back Welsh independence, there are plenty of other small nations on this planet who manage just fine…

Johnny Gamble
Johnny Gamble
7 months ago

This is what people get for Donkeys Years of Donkey voting

CJPh
CJPh
7 months ago

Jo Stevens’ take suggests she has the political IQ of a glass of warm milk. Now, I don’t think she’s stupid (she’s just gifting for her supper), but the inherent contradictions in her stance don’t help – We (all the *ahem, very differently sized* nations of the UK) are better pulling together (and that can only happen by being ort of 1 nation state, no other independent nations ever pull together y’see). All this insufferable bumble-mumble about “patriotism is good but nationalism is for us to define (terribly)” and “we should aim for a United socialist kingdom of republics of… Read more »

Last edited 7 months ago by CJPh
Cwm Rhondda
Cwm Rhondda
7 months ago

It is time the Welsh Labour party put Wales first instead of prioritising the preservation of the British Labour party.

Mr Williams
Mr Williams
7 months ago

I think it depends on how you define the word ‘nationalism’. The ‘etgnic nationalism’ that divided Yugoslavia, the nationalism that divided people over Brexit, Putin’s attitude towards Ukraine and Georgia, Trump’s rhetoric, the lies told by the Leave campaign etc. are divisive and ugly, leading to nothing but further division and strife. However, there is nothing wrong, in my view, in wanting self-rule or independence for your country. Personally, I would call this ‘sovereigntism’ rather that nationalism. Perhaps those of us who do desire further self-rule or independence would be better describing ourselves as ‘Welsh Sovereigntists’ rather than nationalists and… Read more »

hdavies15
hdavies15
7 months ago
Reply to  Mr Williams

Don’t let some other self important jerk make you feel guilty about whatever you choose to call your self. If you describe yourself as a Patriot, nationalist, sovreignist ( hard to get the tongue around that one !)separatist …..so what? It’s up to you. Just be able to define what that stands for in your terms.

Cynan
Cynan
7 months ago

Extracting ourselves from the toxic union is not nationalism. It is escaping from British Nationalism.
Cymru wants to engage with the world, not hide from it. To do that we need to escape the clutches of what is left of the Hanoverian Empire.

James
James
7 months ago

A labour MP thinks having Labour in Westminster we would be better of. How strange.

Richard Alun Gerrard
Richard Alun Gerrard
7 months ago

If I want to know the meaning of words I look at a dictionary. I do not phone up a politician to find out the meaning of long words. I AM A NATIONALIST but I also want an united kingdom. I also want a vote for or against the Senedd every 10 years or so. Or a vote for an independent NORTH WALES perhaps locked in to the English North West rather than South Wales. The investment in the Manchester area must be 100 times more than Wales. Look at Cambridge too….the IT side there is huge…..Now, back to Wales….Try… Read more »

CapM
CapM
7 months ago

It looks like you don’t really know what you want or are and it all depends on which way the wind’s blowing..

Kenneth Vivian
Kenneth Vivian
7 months ago

Yet insular self interest motivated the idea of her United kingdom of merrie England and starmer’s new found antipathy towards rejoining the eu.

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