‘Real danger’ of nationalism taking root in Wales says Conservative MP
A Welsh Conservative MP has said that there is “real danger” of nationalism taking root in Wales that will lead to “division” with the rest of the UK.
Abrconwy MP Robin Millar is the chair of the Conservative Union Resources Unit, a group of 80 backbench MPs committed to keeping the United Kingdom together.
In an article for Politics Home, he says that Wales had never been independent in its present form and that the current border with England has only existed for 50 years.
He adds that devolution in Wales has “few champions” being “too expensive and too powerful for some, underfunded and ill-equipped for others”.
He also points to low turnout at Senedd election and a lack of understanding of devolution as signs of a low public engagement with the institution. “Such poor engagement diminishes scrutiny, slows the dynamic of healthy democratic change and fosters nationalist rhetoric,” he says.
“Such a system has fostered place and nation-building rhetoric. The danger is real of a nationalism taking root that seeks out differences in culture and language, making narratives to underpin division not a means of enrichment. Collaboration becomes an opportunity for confrontation.”
Earlier in the article, he says that the north-west of Wales “is the Welsh-speaking heartland but the umbilical cords of commerce that connect us to England bind us together in a centuries-old embrace”.
“Half a million people cross that border daily to work, visit friends or family – and, more recently, the pub.”
He adds: “No independent Welsh polity has ever encompassed the whole country or held Cardiff. Our distinctive flag is among the oldest in the world, but it was adopted only in 1959.
“Offa’s Dyke may be nearly 1,200 years old, but a modern border with England was settled only in 1972. And our devolved Senedd opened only in 1999.
“Our small population trebled in size during the industrial revolution after an influx of Irish and English immigrant workers. Today, three-quarters of the Welsh population still lives within an hour of Cardiff.”