Support our Nation today - please donate here
News

Most Welsh people still feel ‘some kind of Britishness’, says historian

24 Jan 2022 2 minute read
Union Jack above the Welsh flag

Most Welsh people still feel “some kind of Britishness”, a historian has said.

Professor Martin Johnes of Swansea University has argued that this is despite the idea of Wales being a country, and not part of the UK being “very strong”.

He said that the country’s history, and the idea that Wales is more than a region, is mostly responsible for sustaining the Welsh national identity, ahead of his contribution to This Union: Being Welsh.

The Radio 4 programme in Welshness and the United Kingdom is set to air this evening.

According to Professor Johnes, Welsh independence is on the political agenda like never before, but he cautioned that turning that into a reality is a “different” matter.

He argued that Brexit has shown that it is possible to turn the idea into a reality, and that it has also challenged the idea of the UK as an “open and tolerant” place.

That has made the UK less relevant to a number of people in Wales, he argued.

Professor Johnes told Golwg360: “The idea that Wales is a country is really strong, and that is something that has been passed on to us.

“That history is taught to us through school, through stories, through film, and through what we hear from our families.

‘Our identity has endured’

He added: “Because it’s an idea, that’s why our identity has endured. It’s not something to do with the official definition, it’s easy for that idea to change with time, with the conditions, it can mean different things to different people.

“Wales doesn’t have to be, in the Welsh sense, be the same for everyone, and that’s its strength.

The academic suggested that although Brexit has raised both practical questions and ones about identity, the feeling of Britishness is “still there”.

“I believe that most people in Wales feel some kind of Britishness. Like Welshness it means different things to different people.

“Brexit has raised different questions. On the one hand, it has shown people that change is possible, that it is possible to start again, and that it is possible to come up with an idea that can become reality.

“No one 10 years ago would have said leaving the EU was realistic.”


Support our Nation today

For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

48 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Andrew
Andrew
8 months ago

‘Welsh not British’, is contradictory, given the term Welsh is derived from an Anglo Saxon word for foreigners. This is messed up further, given that the Cymru are the original indigenous native Briton’s. In the USA, they are referred to as,’ first nation people’, In Australia, aboriginal natives, in new Zealand and so on and so on. We should now endeavour to cast off this enforced ancient construct and refer to ourselves as Cymru, native Briton’s. Our children should also be provided with a truthful and firm grounding of our history. Not the begrudging history book proposed recently as being… Read more »

Brefia Gwynfa Carruthers
Brefia Gwynfa Carruthers
8 months ago
Reply to  Andrew

What about the exported Welsh there are more people with Welsh surnames in England than Wales. Even 5 % of the population of New Zealand have Welsh surnames. Wales has exported its population worldwide. Y Cymru ar wasgar. We will keep a welcome in the hillside?

Dim problem
Dim problem
8 months ago
Reply to  Andrew

Creepy, ethno-nationalist, historically illiterate nonsense. We Welsh, like our English, Scottish and Irish brothers, are a mongrel race shaped by thousands of years of invasions and immigrations. Trying to compare us to the First Nations people or Native Americans is insulting.

Andrew
Andrew
7 months ago
Reply to  Dim problem

You obviously accept the establishment echo chamber academic bubble view of history. History was rewritten to champion a Germanic version over all else. The Welsh thereafter were not allowed a history, only myth and legend. I suggest you broaden your outlook and seek the truth about how our history has been largely hidden from view. From the early migration routes from the east. The language being a living fossil that is the only common denominator still spoken that connects us to knowledge that pre date Greek and Latin by millennia.

Terence Murphy
Terence Murphy
7 months ago
Reply to  Dim problem

There are differences in the genetic signatures of British peoples. They are not that significant. The differences lie in our cultures .When the English ruling classes treat us the way that they treat their English underdogs we have a different culture and tradition to call on. So do the Scots and the Irish found their voice a hundred years ago. My father was Irish. Annibyniaeth nawr

Geoff Horton-Jones
Geoff Horton-Jones
8 months ago

We the people of Wales are Britons and the British
The whole of this island is our home not any other peoples

Dwr drewllyd
Dwr drewllyd
8 months ago

No immigration then.

Grayham Jones
8 months ago

I’m welsh and European not British

John Williams
John Williams
8 months ago

The big question is whether those who see themselves as Welsh think that they have a future in an increasingly Anglocentric, and anti-Celt, British State.

Andrew
Andrew
8 months ago
Reply to  John Williams

Hi John. I am of the view that the term Celt is a relatively modern construct, also designed to predispose the pre Anglo Saxon native peoples as being, ‘other’. The only Celtic tribe in Europe lived on what is now southern France. I do not consider there to be any Celts in Britain.This narrative was part of the Hanoverian rewrite of history, championed by Bishop Stubbs and his ‘lesser breed’, pre Hitlertarian dogma. Unfortunately, Stubbs’s version of history, of a Germanic master race, still forms the national school history text today. This was done so that the English, who have… Read more »

Dave
Dave
8 months ago
Reply to  Andrew

fascinating where can I further educate myself on this topic Andrew #abolishthemonarcy is my view and this will certainly open a few minds to the idea #IndyWales

Last edited 8 months ago by Dave
Andrew
Andrew
8 months ago
Reply to  Dave

See Britain’s Hidden History on u tube by Ross Broadstock.A live show goes out every Sunday at 8pm. Many of the subscribers to the channel also put out their own shows and books. Also see Cymroglyphics by Ross.Its not political, it just challenges the academic echo chamber bubble of the English establishment air brush version of British history.

Kurt C
Kurt C
8 months ago
Reply to  John Williams

The stupid will, they like being on their knees to English royalty and toffs. Cymraeg, never Welsh. Never an insult forced upon my country.

Dime
Dime
8 months ago
Reply to  Kurt C

What about the crachach. They are everywhere. There society.

Chwe ceiniog
Chwe ceiniog
8 months ago
Reply to  Dime

Bravo

Rob
Rob
7 months ago
Reply to  Dime

I prefer the crachach over Westminster toffs any day.

Dyffryn Tawe
Dyffryn Tawe
7 months ago
Reply to  Rob

Ah the BBC home of the crachach. Oh and Aberaeron.

Tafarn y gareg
Tafarn y gareg
7 months ago
Reply to  Rob

Because you fit the description.

Tafarn y gareg
Tafarn y gareg
7 months ago
Reply to  Dime

The crachach are strong here.

Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
8 months ago

Well it’s hardly surprising many people have a sense of Britishness in Wales – we’ve been a conquered country for 800years and our neighbour has indoctrinated us ever since. However, this is finally changing as our young are more pro-independence than our older generation. The belief is growing that we can be a sucessful independent country – bring it on.

Edward y march
Edward y march
8 months ago
Reply to  Steve Duggan

800 years that cannot be right you have missed the Welsh conquest of England in 1485. The Tudor’s were Welsh marched through Wales to garner support. Richard 111 was killed by Llandeilo man Please don’t ignore history. Or is this part of history inconvenient.

CJPh
CJPh
8 months ago
Reply to  Edward y march

So sayeth the legend – no proof that our man from the House of Dinefwr killed Old dic bach. Mins you, he got some shiny baubles and lovely titles in the aftermath… Before old Hari viii confiscated it all.

CapM
CapM
8 months ago
Reply to  CJPh

Proof is not possible but…
Information available points to Rhys ap Thomas being in the right place at the right time with his favoured weapon and such a weapon slicing off the back of Richard III’s skull. Any other explanation relies on ignoring what information we have and hypothesising in the absence of any contradictory information.

Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
7 months ago
Reply to  Edward y march

So you’re telling me that Wales had the option of becoming independent once the Tudors accessed the throne? As you know, it was quite the opposite, wasn’t it, with Wales being further integrated with England in 1536.

Dyffryn Tawe
Dyffryn Tawe
7 months ago
Reply to  Steve Duggan

Yes a Welsh decision by Harri’r Wythfed. Can’t blame England for what a Welsh dynasty does.

CJPh
CJPh
7 months ago
Reply to  Dyffryn Tawe

Uuuuuuum, that may very well be the most reductive history comment ever. The notion of ‘welshness’ was used by a peripheral claimant to the English throne who would not have been in line to a restored Welsh throne in order to curry favour amongst a base of warriors untapped during a time of great tumult. Calling the Tudors a Welsh dynasty is partly true – the moment they took the throne of England, all that mattered was the royal English part of their lineage. Did Wales gain more autonomy, dis we see a reestablished Welsh legal system or greater power… Read more »

Tafarn y gareg
Tafarn y gareg
7 months ago
Reply to  CJPh

Ludlow or Dinan was recognised as the capital of Wales. By the Welsh Tudor dynasty.

Glyn Jones
Glyn Jones
8 months ago

Rhaid ad-hawlio’r teitl hwn oddi ar blant Hengist a Hors, a ddygodd oddi arnom nid yn unig ein tiroedd treftadol, ond a geisodd hawlio ein cenedligrwydd hefyd, a’i briodoli iddynt eu hunain er mwyn cyfiawnhau eu darostyngiad o Ynys Prydain.

Andrew
Andrew
8 months ago
Reply to  Glyn Jones

The treacherous long knives Glyn. Gave rise to the term’ never trust a Saxon’.

Arwyn
Arwyn
8 months ago

I’ve got a lot of time for Martin Johnes. He presents his opinion honestly and is always able to back it up. Brexit taught me to differentiate between British cultural ties and Unionism. British identity is not contingent on the UK State. Neither is it exclusive. By comparison, I continue to very much identify as a Western European despite Brexit. Heck, call me an Earthling. None of these things detract from my identity as a Cymro. Neither does being a Cymro detract from the others. They co-exist within me. I accept the construct of the Welsh Nation. It is meaningful… Read more »

Last edited 8 months ago by Arwyn
Y derlwyn
Y derlwyn
8 months ago
Reply to  Arwyn

Did Wales vote for Bexit. Is that an honest opinion? Or is that the wrong honest opinion?

Arwyn
Arwyn
8 months ago
Reply to  Y derlwyn

And?

Arwyn
Arwyn
8 months ago
Reply to  Arwyn

I also believe that to pursue nativism is a mistake. You can’t be inclusive by being exclusive. And we wont get anywhere unless we can forge a new Welsh Nation from those that call Wales home.

Malcolmrj
Malcolmrj
8 months ago

We are not on the union jack flag and also we aren’t on the Royal Standard and to think of the many thousands of Welsh people that have been killed fighting for the British empire ànd didn’t know that they are not represented on any of the British emblems SAY No More

Banwen boy
Banwen boy
8 months ago
Reply to  Malcolmrj

They fought for the
Union flag and are represented on memorials throughout the United Kingdom. They fought tyrany as did those from Ireland Scotland and England read the letters in the press of the time. You cannot impose your 21 century view of history on the past. The fact that some slave owners were Welsh does not mean that it did not involve Wales.

Rob
Rob
7 months ago
Reply to  Banwen boy

Do you think the English or the Scots would be happy if they had no representation on the Union flag or the Royal Standard? So why should we be okay with it. The fact that there is no Welsh representation is an insult to the Welsh servicemen who fought and died for the UK.

Paul
Paul
8 months ago

Ultimately, none of this ‘britishness v welshness’ stuff matters. Wales is a geographically defined entity and a recognized country. Independence is about forging a different future by making different choices. We all have views on the past and visions of possible futures. All that matters is whether we can find a way to make a start down that road.

Dave
Dave
8 months ago
Reply to  Paul

Although I agree whole heartedly with you sentiment we need a catalyst to start the conversation on the door step, if we are to achieve an #IndyWales then the more information that we can give to the people of our country the easier it will be. The English know this and that is why our understanding of our own history has been limited in the way that it has.

CJPh
CJPh
8 months ago
Reply to  Dave

A good debate tactic (for convincing people) is to adopt the role of ‘soft interrogator’ – it has long been my contention that the idea of a personal ‘Britishness’ in Wales and England is as ephemeral as morning mist. Once you gently probe, point at the obvious contradictions and inconsistencies and present the far more obvious, concrete ideas of Welshness and Englishness. Rather than trying to convince people, cold turkey so to speak, that we must gain indy now (that does work too, but less frequently) the approach of convincing people that Britishness is only a geographic description with some… Read more »

Ugwch
Ugwch
8 months ago

Speaking on behalf of the neolithic people of the Elwy valley, I want you homo “so-called” sapiens to get back to the Rift Valley

Last edited 8 months ago by Ugwch
Ugwch
Ugwch
8 months ago

Speaking for the neanderthal people of the Elwy valley, I want the homo “so-called” sapiens to get back to the Rift Valley

Dave
Dave
8 months ago
Reply to  Ugwch

the Tories had the same idea, the called it Brexit 😉 and that’s working out just dandy for Wales #IndyWalesl

Grayham Jones
8 months ago

Welsh people have got to stop being little Englanders and be proud to be welsh kick all English party’s out of wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 start fighting for your children and grandchildren future in wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 it’s time for a new wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 the UK is finished Wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 Scotland 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 and Ireland 🇮🇪 got to be independent

Rob
Rob
7 months ago

If Scotland goes independent, and Ireland is reunified, then where does that leave Wales?
Does anyone think a union of just England and Wales is workable? What would be the name of this Union, the flag & the anthem? Would the English want to create a new neutral identity just to keep its small neighbour of 3 million on board?

Argol Fawr!
Argol Fawr!
7 months ago

Well professor Martin Johnes of Swansea University, where’s your evidence. Sticking an “I believe” qualifier in your opinion just indicates you have none.

Martin Johnes
Martin Johnes
7 months ago
Reply to  Argol Fawr!

For example, at the 2019 St David’s Poll (undertaken by polling company ICM on behalf of the BBC):

Question: “Which, if any, of the following best describes how you see yourself?”

Results:
Welsh not British 21%
More Welsh than British 27%
Equally Welsh and British 44%
More British than Welsh 5%
British not Welsh 2%

These results only include people polled who were born in Wales. Other polls produce similar results when respondents are given these choices.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
7 months ago

Professor Martin Johnes forgets. We are the real British. But I reject being referred to as British as the term has been appropriated, meaning anyone outside these isles who are not familiar with our history or the political landscape assume Britain or Britishness is connected with England or Englishness. Wrong on both. Although to be fair. It’s not the fault soley of outsiders lack of geography or knowledge, especially of Wales. The British State are mainly to blame. It’s they who promote to the world what it is to be British. And the message they transmit outwardly differs the one… Read more »

Tommy B
Tommy B
7 months ago

You bunch of deluded self important idiots 🤣 who do you think you are 🤣 every white British person has Celtic ancestry and every white British person has Anglo Saxon ancestry. The Welsh aren’t special and never have been. Get over yourselves 😂

Our Supporters

All information provided to Nation.Cymru will be handled sensitively and within the boundaries of the Data Protection Act 2018.