A national bank could save the Welsh language

The Bank of England. Picture by Davidcuen (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Benjiman L. Angwin

Napoleon called England ‘a nation of shopkeepers’. His failure to comprehend the power of the banking system is a small part of why he lost the war.

Edward I knew their strength well. He went to Italy’s banks before planning a full-scale conquest of Wales.

When Welsh industry suffered in the 30s, and in the 80s, no native financial institutions existed to sustain Wales’ economy nor non-state job creation.

If Wales is to move beyond reliance upon the British state, Wales needs a bank.

It needs a bank because financial self-sufficiency, on a personal and institutional level, is all important if Wales is to gain further autonomy.

It needs a bank because Lloyds, HSBC and others are pulling out of our towns every day, condemning them to further economic decline.

We have plenty of expertise in this field in Wales. But a young Cymro from Bala who goes to Bangor to study a Masters in finance will often have to leave the country to find a job equal to his skill.

A Bank of Wales would create a nucleus of financial expertise in Wales, and foster the cultivation of financial leadership in Wales for generations.

Leadership

In fact, we need not just a Bank of Wales but a Banc Cymru. The bank’s internal language should be Welsh.

If Banc Cymru is administrated internally in Welsh, it will give Welsh a boost not seen since the introduction of William Morgan’s bible.

The Welsh language has long been put in a box labelled ‘religion and the arts’ and we have been told that it is not a language of finance or science.

That is a hangover from a colonialist attitude that associated the English language with the new and other languages with the old-fashioned.

A bank operating internally in the Welsh language would completely change people’s perceptions of what the language is capable of.

All the terminology is there. You can study modules in finance at our universities through the Welsh language Federal College.

No Celtic nation has a national bank in its native language. The Bank of Ireland is in fact removing Irish from its cash points.

As the Celtic nation whose language is strongest, Wales is in a leadership role.

A Banc Cymru would also ensure that those running the bank are not just Oxbridge graduates on the executive board merry-go-round, who would move the institution to London at the first opportunity.

They will have the cultural understanding to foster Wales-focused economic policies. And survival of Welsh will become part of Banc Cymru’s raison d’être.

An economically vibrant Wales, from Penfro (Pembroke) to Penley (Llannerch Banna) is crucial.

If English-speaking communities are not economically vibrant, Welsh-speakers know Welsh-speaking communities will not be either.

It’s time to put our own financial and cultural interest first and set up a Banc Cymru.

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