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Welsh Gov Covid briefings ‘riddled with anti-English sentiment’, former Times editor claims

29 Mar 2021 3 minutes Read
Simon Jenkins at Policy Fight Club by Policy Exchange

The Welsh Government’s Covid-19 press conferences have been “riddled with anti-English sentiment”, a former editor of The Times has claimed.

Simon Jenkins complained about the Welsh Government making decisions that are “different from the English”, and instead making them for Wales, in an interview with State of the Union.

Jenkins, who also used to edit the Evening Standard, and is the author of ‘Thatcher & Sons’, and ‘Short History of England’, suggested that a “new localist identity” was emerging in Wales, which has “moved from being interested in parish councils to being nationalist”.

He also claimed that “identity politics in the British national sense” had been partly suppressed “because of the British Empire”.

Jenkins said: “I think identity politics now, we’ve swerved into it. I think it’s bad, I think it’s a disaster, I don’t like it.

“But identity politics in the British national sense has been around for a long time and it was really just suppressed for the 19th century, partly because of the British Empire, and partly through prosperity and so on.

“But certainly, in my lifetime, my father’s Welsh, I’ve always had a house in Wales, I feel half Welsh, maybe a quarter Welsh.”

‘Riddled’ 

He added: “But certainly, I mean you just watch them speaking during the coronavirus press conferences, every single one of those press conferences in Wales and in Scotland, it’s sort of been riddled with anti-English sentiment.

“I mean trying to make a decision that’s different from the English decision, and making a decision for Wales, for Scotland.

“One of the most moving things I saw Jeremy Bowen doing some interviews in Merthyr Tydfil about the Covid problems in Merthyr.

“He said she was the captain of the Merthyr women’s football team, and she was quite something else, and the question was ‘how do you feel about being told by the government what to do with your life?’

“To which she said ‘I hate it, but I don’t mind so much if it’s a Welshman me’. I mean she said it with such force, you know ‘when I see Boris Johnson telling me something to do I just get enraged. When it’s Drakeford I just say oh god.’

“This is a new localist identity which is the result of decades of centralisation and globalisation, all these things, and it’s moved from being interested in parish councils to being nationalist.

“We’re even getting English nationalism now. But I never thought Scottish nationalism would get up to 20 per cent.”

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