Cymru not Wales: Why Plaid Cymru should not rename itself the ‘New Wales Party’

Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price (left) and AM Delyth Jewell (right) with Newport West candidate Jonathan T. Clarke (centre) and the ‘New Wales’ slogan. Picture by Plaid Cymru

Tim Richards

Isn’t it about time that we, in Wales, stopped calling ourselves foreigners?

The words ‘Wales’ and ‘Welsh’ derive from the Anglo-Saxon word for foreigners. It can be found wherever the Anglo-Saxons came across people on this island who spoke the Brythonic language that evolved into yr Iaith Cymraeg, the Welsh language, in our country and Kernow, the Cornish language, in Cornwall.

Calling yourself Welsh is similar to the word Negro which was used for slaves in the USA. The word Negro, meaning “black”, was used by the Portuguese who were the first colonialists in Africa in the 15th century and they were responsible for the start of the slave trade exporting black people to America to work on the cotton plantations in the southern states of the USA.

The word Negro was still being used in the 1960s and in fact Martin Luther King spoke of the Negro people when he made his “I have a dream” speech in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963.

But another speaker there, John Lewis, was one of the first to use the word black and by the 1970s that had become the way that black people defined themselves.

I am of course not comparing the experience of the people of Wales with those of African-American slaves. But it is important to make the point that using their own word for themselves was a psychological change that gave them confidence in themselves and self-respect.

But what do we shout at rugby and football matches? “Wales, Wales, Wales.”

Isn’t it about time that we started calling our nation “Cymru”? It comes from the old Welsh word “Combrog” or compatriot, and would be a better, more unifying and aggressive message when we support our teams in sports.

I believe that all self-respecting Cymro should start to describe ourselves as Cymry rather than Welsh which is the kind of colonised thinking that demeans ourselves. It is no wonder there has been little sign of independent thinking about our nation in the past.

‘Too Welsh’

This is why the recent proposal that Plaid Cymru should change their name to the New Wales Party is the exact opposite of what the party should be doing.

Angus Robertson’s report for the party said: “Plaid performs well amongst voters who are strong Welsh identifiers and a key part of Welsh identification is associated with the language. However, such is the close relationship of Plaid Cymru with the language, for many Welsh people – whether they are Welsh speakers or not – Plaid Cymru is seen as solely the party of and for the Welsh language.”

But, if that was the case, how come the Rhondda has twice voted for Plaid Cymru Assembly Members, Geraint Davies and Leanne Wood despite the fact that Welsh is a minority language in the constituency?

In fact, it does not seem to have been a problem in other non-Welsh speaking constituencies like Caerffili and Blaenau Gwent where the Plaid Cymru vote has been high in the past and will be again in the future.

No, you don’t get independence by going cap-in-hand to the electorate saying that I really am not too Welsh, so please vote for me.

If we are ever going to convince our people that independence is the way forward we need to frame the debate in our own words. Cymru Rydd!


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