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Indulging in ‘soft nationalism’ would be a ‘historic mistake’ for Welsh Conservatives warns Telegraph

15 Jun 2022 3 minutes Read
Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies. Picture by Matthew Horwood.

Indulging in “soft nationalism” would be a “historic mistake” for the Welsh Conservatives, the Telegraph newspaper has warned.

Last week the same newspaper reported that the Welsh Conservatives are considering “splitting” from the UK party so that they could move “into a more Welsh-focused direction”.

Steps discussed include control of their own messaging and policy, and putting Cymru Am Byth on their logo.

But an op-ed in the paper penned by journalist Kara Kennedy warned that the move revealed the “underlying tension between unionism and devolution”.

“While such a strategy may succeed in the short-term, with some flag-waving and Boris-bashing, its long term reverberations could be terrible for unionism,” she said.

“The observable trend of devolution is that it not only foments, but cements nationalism. Institutions, separated politically from Westminster, become hubs for anti-English sentiment and power bases for separatists.

“Even established national parties, once devolved, risk takeover by such people, as we saw in the Scottish Labour leadership contest.

“Some might see a formal split as the natural move for the Welsh Conservatives. After all, they already have a head office in Cardiff.

“But it would also mean much more – a loss of faith in the idea that unionism should be practiced in all settings and institutions.

“In its own small way, this would be a concession to separatism, which has for some time now been creeping up on Wales like a low-grade fever.”

‘Wholeheartedly Welsh’

The Welsh Conservatives’ move for greater independence from the Westminster party comes after an academic study suggested they could not win in Wales unless they begin to “appeal to Welsh national sentiment”.

The study published in Parliamentary Affairs found that the Conservatives appealed primarily to those with a strong British identity at the 2021 Senedd election, but these voters did not make up a large enough share of the population to win the election.

The study said that the “Conservatives do very poorly among strong Welsh/weak British identifiers and far better among strong British/weak Welsh voters”.

“The Conservatives in Wales cannot currently win the support of voters who consider themselves primarily or exclusively Welsh,” it said.

As a result “national identity attachments act as a ceiling that drastically limits the gains that the opposition parties can expect to make at devolved elections”.

The study was carried out by Jac M Larner, Richard Wyn Jones, Daniel Wincott and Ed Gareth Poole of Cardiff University, and Paula Surridge of the University of Bristol.

“Wrapping themselves both metaphorically and literally in the Union Jack flag while presenting themselves as the only party that genuinely cares about the Union; claiming throughout the pandemic that everything was being better managed in England: the current crop of Welsh Conservatives have abandoned both the symbolism and the substance of the party’s previous efforts to appear more wholeheartedly Welsh,” the paper says.

“There’s clearly an audience for this. The problem for the Welsh Conservatives is that, given the demographics that underpin voting behaviour in Wales, that audience is unlikely ever to be large enough to allow the party to come anywhere close to being able to govern alone.”


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Dave
Dave
18 days ago

Why is #IndyWales considered Anti-English? why is #IndyScotland considered Anti-English? why is a #UnitedIreland considered Anti-English? any ideas folks because I am scratching my head and only getting sawdust.

Cathy Jones
Cathy Jones
18 days ago
Reply to  Dave

The English Establishment and those who champion it are so used to having it all their own way that they think that anything that isn’t pro-English is anti-English….and the Union is a very English thing.

Its the same mechanism that makes men ask “Well, whens’ it International Men’s they then?” every international men’s day*, the same way of thinking that makes ex-Punks get defensive and stroppy when they see a BLM protest.

*International Mes Day is the nineteenth of November.

The Original Mark
The Original Mark
17 days ago
Reply to  Cathy Jones

Bit of a sweeping statement there, most of the punks I hung around with back in the day, were members or supporters of rock against racism and red wedge, some of us were even helping support the women at Greenham Common, delivering boxes of food.

Ianto Ffrainc - Keep trying NC censors!
Ianto Ffrainc - Keep trying NC censors!
17 days ago

And this is the point I try to make and get downvoted for by those who like their own prejudices. We accept ALL minorities as they are, whether we approve of them or not, so long as they harm nobody. We avoid mistaking our own prejudices for their actions. Because it’s not very nice when people come after us, or after minorities WE care about. The Reverend Niemoller put it in a way that even the most selfish utilitarians could understand it. It’s a simple message. But it has upset enough people that the notoriously sluggish NC moderators are chasing… Read more »

Last edited 17 days ago by Ianto Ffrainc - Keep trying NC censors!
The Original Mark
The Original Mark
17 days ago
Reply to  Dave

Quite simple if you think about it, they are anti inglish because the tories, Labour and the right wing msm tells us they are anti inglish. And we all know these groups never ever lie to us.

SundanceKid
SundanceKid
17 days ago
Reply to  Dave

Because these movements are not explicitly designed to serve their agendas.

Gareth
Gareth
17 days ago

The Tory party in Cymru can not split from England, it is incompatible. They can not criticize Westminster, as it is seen by London as supporting Indy, if they do the opposite they are seen as supporting the union in Cymru. Regards having Cymru Am Byth on the logo, I have India written on the tyres of my car, but I’ve never been there.

SundanceKid
SundanceKid
16 days ago
Reply to  Gareth

If they do this, they will lose all the support they already have in Wales.
I’d wager that most voters support them because of their anti-Welsh and pro-Westminster stance, not in spite of it.
By doing this, they hope to attract some conservative-leaning Pro-Welsh Plaid and Labour voters but it will be a trade-off between these and their old Conservative base in Wales.

I.Humphrys
I.Humphrys
17 days ago

It’s not simply a matter of “Englishness”. It is the “Toryness” that is their problem.
Those that form the new party, for that is what it amounts to, will be ditching baggage in favour of improving our land and conserving it’s culture and faith. This is a growing phenomena in the world, which some call “fairness”.

Rob
Rob
17 days ago

Most people in Wales are more likely to identify themselves as Welsh over British, that doesn’t necessarily mean they want independence, but it does mean that they parties need to reach out to them if they want to gain more votes. So if the Welsh Tories want more votes in Wales then they need to reach out to those who feel proud to be Welsh. Has the Telegraph ever winged about Scottish Tories doing the same thing in Scotland, or is that something they would never dare do? Its the sign of the times that in a post-Brexit, post-Trump world,… Read more »

Cofid
Cofid
17 days ago

The historic mistake is having Tories in Wales at all.

Paul
Paul
17 days ago
Reply to  Cofid

There needs to be a conservative type/style party in Cymru that is a Welsh based party with no affiliation to the English Tory party only similar ideals.
I actually feel for Welsh people who have conservative leanings who are forced to vote English Tory as there is no other option for them . People who aspire to become politicians with conservative leanings need to form a purely Welsh Conservative party with the interest’s of Cymru first second third forth fifth etc etc .

CJPh
CJPh
17 days ago
Reply to  Paul

Speak to any working person who voted Tory from Swansea or Bridgend; heavy hearts and a lot of “who else right now?” Many also seem open to the idea of Indy but are locked into a British news cycle.

Lebowski
Lebowski
17 days ago

Hard nationalism would be better

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
17 days ago

What do the Tory Telegraph think their sort of English Nationalism is? Constipated Conservatism? And anyone prejudice is their scummy newspaper & journalists towards Wales.. Anti-Welsh , Anti- devolution, Anti-Wales, and so on…. The sorry list is endless. And the Telegraph forget by forcing Wales & Scotland to jump to England’s tune is why the SNP rules Scotland still and pro-devolution parties in Wales are continually voted in by the majority of Welsh voters while the Unionist Welsh Conservatives continue to fail & flounder and why they pondering independence out of desperation. So I can reassure the facist answer to… Read more »

Last edited 17 days ago by Y Cymro
Marc
Marc
17 days ago

“separatism, which has for some time now been creeping up on Wales like a low-grade fever.”
No low grade fever, it’s turning into a pandemic, and the Tories do not have a vaccine in fact they are super spreaders!

Arwyn
Arwyn
17 days ago

Said it so often … the current Tory party and their supporters are overcome by ideological headbanging. They make false assertions about the multiple identities around the British Isles on a minute by minute basis. The whole basis of their argument is a radical British Nationalism. The response to which is very, very simple. So if any British Nationalists are reading this, here it is …

… Go to hell.

CJPh
CJPh
17 days ago
Reply to  Arwyn

I think their current flag-waving is just surface-level optics. They are one of the least “Conservative” Conservative parties in Europe, and certainly one of the more internally contradictory (some very right populist positions, some neo-con/neo-lib stuff and a whole heaping teaspoonful of dull virtue signalling masquerading as political rhetoric – all very performative). None of the current major English parties have a coherent platform, no intellectual rigour behind their policy proposals, they simply flit from one position to another based on polling in order to retain/gain power. It’s all reactive – as long as their pockets get filled, they’ll say… Read more »

Richard
Richard
17 days ago

Wales needs a strong vibrant and Wales loyal opposition in the Senedd. The view that Tory’s just pick up the votes of incomers and uncle Toms plus a few border area farmers is total rubbish …. you will find they pick up ⬆️ a high number of welsh speakers plus increasing post Brexit x Labour valley and Deeside / Wrexham voters plus many x liberals in mid Wales… ARTD knows this and the likes of the moderate and one nation Tory leaders who still remain know a Wales identity will help them keep some in the post Boris melt down… Read more »

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