Welsh independence ‘not such a distant prospect’ says Los Angeles literary magazine
Welsh independence is now “not such a distant prospect” according to a literary magazine published in Los Angeles.
Wales’ national movement and the Welsh language are discussed in an article in the Los Angeles Review of Books on the topic of linguistic diversity in the shadows of Empires.
The article by France 24 and Radio France Internationale journalist Oliver Farry traces the revival of the Welsh language in the late 20th century to the present day and asks why Wales’ national movement hasn’t developed at the same pace.
“Another notable aspect of Welsh’s success is that, for long, it did not translate into a rise in support for Welsh independence,” he writes. “Unlike in Scotland, independence held little appeal in Wales, even after devolution of powers to a Welsh Assembly in 1997.
“Earlier in this century, polls rarely showed more than 15 percent of the population in favor of independence. But in the five years since the Brexit referendum (in which, ironically, a majority of Welsh voted leave), that figure has risen, with one in March this year showing 39 percent in favor.
“Welsh secession from the United Kingdom, which has always seemed to be the unlikeliest of all the Union’s possible permutations, is all of sudden not such a distant prospect.”
The latest independence poll by Savanta ComRes in May 2021 showed 35% supporting independence and 65% opposed, with don’t knows removed.
In his article, Oliver Farry mentions the book Speak Not: Empire, Identity and the Politics of Language by his fellow Hong Kong-based journalist James Griffiths.
“Welsh was pulled back from the brink of extinction and is currently in better shape than Irish is after a century of independence,” he says.
“The revival of Welsh is not without parallel in contemporary Europe — Basque, Catalan, and Galician have thriven in a similar fashion — but it is remarkable for having happened in the face of official indifference, if not hostility, that lasted until 1988 when Margaret Thatcher’s government made Welsh a compulsory language up until the age of 14 in Welsh schools.
“Many Welsh people, including Griffiths’s own family, have enthusiastically embraced the language after generations without speaking it. Even immigrants and refugees learn it alongside English.
“The language has acquired a cultural cachet that would have surprised William Williams and his contemporaries, being sung by rock bands such as Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci, Catatonia, and Super Furry Animals.”
The full article can be read online here.