Why has devolution failed to create a modern Welsh national identity?

Articles via Email

Get instant updates to your inbox

We do not moderate comments before they appear. The views expressed in the comments are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of Nation. Cymru. Please read our community standards and participation guidelines before contributing.

newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Ioan Gealy
Guest
Ioan Gealy

Surely this is true of Englishness! Another stateless nation the last time I looked!

sibrydionmawr
Guest

Well, all of the above is as valid for any other nation, it’s a case of ‘insert nation here’. That was the point of Benedict Anderson’s book in the first place, which is well worth a read. It can be found here in .pdf form:

http://rebels-library.org/files/imagined_communities.pdf

CambroUiDunlainge
Guest
CambroUiDunlainge

Not a big fan of Anderson’s theories. Always felt he lacks context of the evolution of a community. Animals form packs, they choose a leader. They create that group to pool skills, mutual protection yadda yadda. Hunter gatherers did the same thing… those gatherer’s had children and over time that original group of hunters presents a shared heritage to a bigger community of people. In that time their culture and language has naturally deviated creating a separate identity to another “tribe” by this point. Tribes eventually do the same thing with other tribes that the individuals once did… to pool… Read more »

Trailorboy
Guest
Trailorboy

I wonder if The Curriculum Cymreig is a overplayed a bit. It has been tokenism, because many teachers and schools simply play lip service to it (only when most teachers believe in its merits and importance will it actually work) – a brief mention of something or someone Welsh in a few lessons here and there, y dyddiad yn Gymraeg, the brave few writing Nod y wers instead of lesson objectives and every pupil fluent in saying yma and Bore da. Hardly anything to write home about – ethnicity doesn’t even get a look in. The troubles we have started… Read more »

Gareth
Guest
Gareth

Wales has it’s own unique identity, but like American states we are intrinsically linked economically, geographically and culturally to England.

England is of course due to its size, population, wealth and language the dominant player in the United Kingdom. And as unpopular as that might seem I’m very happy to call myself both Welsh and British (and Brixit aside European too).

Gareth
Guest
Gareth

Also sorry but

“The Welsh flag does hang “unnoticed on the public building” but it does so next to the British flag.”

It also hangs there next to the EU flag. Why does the author single out the British flag and not the European one?

John
Guest
John

‘Why has devolution failed to create a modern Welsh national identity?’ It did begin to do so initially but the breaks were put on by mostly British identifying Labour politicians (17 years incumbents) and now there is inertia and disinterestedness in the whole project.

Capitalist and Welshnash
Guest
Capitalist and Welshnash

I disagree with much of this article. 20 years is short length of time after the 716 years between Llywelyn Ein Llyw Olaf and the establishment of devolution. It will take another 50 years at least, or organic internal Welsh growth, to foster such ‘civic’ ideas without being biased towards the idea of ‘moving forward’ or ‘progression’. ‘Progression’, as it were, insinuates a wrongness in an opposing ideology, and is an attack upon all forms of conservatism. Conservatism with a small ‘c’ is an integral part of Welshness. The author also attaches ethnicity to language, which I find abhorrent, ignorant,… Read more »

Tame Frontiersman
Guest
Tame Frontiersman

Interesting essay, overall A parallel line of enquiry is why does British national identity in these islands remain so stubbornly persistent? Between the Napoleonic wars and WW1, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was the world superpower. Britishness equalled progress: technologically, economically and consequentially, culturally. Britishness wasn’t confined to these islands. Sir Robert Menzies, Australian Prime Minister 1939-41, 1949-66 described himself as “British to his boot-straps”. Why, in the 21st century, do so many people in Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and especially England identify with Britishness? Surely shared experience of building and empire together or standing together alone… Read more »

Martin Johnes
Guest
Martin Johnes

There’s still a shared culture across the UK based on tv, pop music, fashion, laws, shopping, street design, architecture and everything else that defines everyday life here. It’s ordinary and banal but it’s powerful. It’s what makes growing up in the UK different to growing up in France or anywhere else. Every nation has its own version. Last year I taught a Breton exchange student who told me she had never considered herself French until she came to Wales and found she had far more in common with French students than the Welsh and English students in her class. People… Read more »

Bele
Guest
Bele

Fair point but many of these banal, everyday markers of “Britishness” exist in places like Ireland and New Zealand too. The problem in Wales is that vast parts of the country are totally Anglicised and have no markers of Welsh identity. Young people from Brecon, Monmouth, Cowbridge, Barmouth are more “English” than people from Newcastle or Liverpool. It’s hard to play the cool Celt wheb you sound like Prince William. The younger generations in Carmarthen and Aberystwyth sound English too. How is anyone supposed to know they can speak Welsh? No such problem exists in places like Merthyr or Port… Read more »

CambroUiDunlainge
Guest
CambroUiDunlainge

Britishness is artificially maintained though through TV, media and education. Without the first two you’d find deviation and mutual interests across the UK become different. We are told by the media want to think and what to care about. We all know Englishness means Britishness and the education system promotes an entirely different culture group to our own… history as well. We learn 1066 and that some English dude took an arrow to the face not that Rhys ap Tewdwr died in battle fighting Bernard de Neufmarch resulting in the complete control of our nation by the Anglo-Normans in 1091.… Read more »

Trailorboy
Guest
Trailorboy

It’s impossible to avoid the fetish of fotcing union jacks into everything on TV, not to mention Britains got talent, great british bake off and all the mentions of us British and “we brits” everywhere. (very intentionally and deliberately so).

Despite that most people botn in Wales do consider themselves Welsh according to the last census and a much smaller number declared themselves Welsh and British.

I think most people in Wales have little trouble identifying proudly as Welsh.

That’s obviously quite different from a desire to be independent.

Davydh Trethewey (@MawKernewek)
Guest

There is no civic English identity separate from the British one. All there is is a number of “England” quangos with Historic England (the former English Heritage split into the aforementioned government body and a new English Heritage constituted as a charity), Natural England, Highways England, NHS England etc. They seem more keen to use “England” than “English” now, which may be because, except for an inconvenient minority west of the Tamar, “England” may be a less contentious concept than “English”. Australia was so British in the 1950s that they let Britain test nuclear bombs on their territory in open… Read more »

Trailorboy
Guest
Trailorboy

Davydh,

How many in Kernow would you regard as proud Kernoweg. I’ve been there many times and wonder (and hope) that there is still a lot more to Cornwall than the lines of Mercedes 4×4s from Surrey in St Ives.

Used to go there as a kid and very different feel these days – very Abseroch or Barmouth. If this is modern Britain it’s not got much going for it – a souless place full of arrogant rich people, who havr done nothing to deserve their wealth.

Davydh Trethewey (@MawKernewek)
Guest

There were 13.8% (73200) who indicated Cornish as their national identity in the 2011 census, with 9.9% indicating Cornish only. This is as a write in option. There is a lot more to Cornwall than people with second homes, but one consequence is away from the tourist hotspots, and the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, there is ever-increasing suburbanisation, as new housing estates are built to make up for all that have been bought up as 2nd homes or holiday lets. There is quite a big divide between the ‘tourist’ Cornwall and that experienced by local residents.

Trailorboy
Guest
Trailorboy

I know this is old ground and many on here I have no doubt have been very actively doing things over the years , but how do we harness the feelings and ideas that we share between us and with the Bretons to really make a difference. To me it isn’t about things like independence and the rest, its more than that it’s about ensuring something we share in common in our different ways, which is hard to define lives on and finds a way to thrive again. To me the first modern age domino to fall was Cornwall, next… Read more »

Davydh Trethewey (@MawKernewek)
Guest

There are a couple of new independent news websites in Cornwall, one is Cornish Stuff https://cornishstuff.com, the other is Cornwall Reports (though this is run by someone who is ex-BBC so not necessarily pro-Cornish) https://cornwallreports.co.uk. If anything the mainstream media situation in Cornwall is worse even than Wales, the newspapers are all owned by the same organisation, and the Western Morning News (covering Devon and south Somerset as well as Cornwall) is promoting this thing called #BackTheSouthWest, which is yet another “Devonwall” agenda, which turns out to mainly be a PR campaign for the Pennon Group, the parent company of… Read more »

Andrew
Guest
Andrew

Welsh, British? The word Welsh is derived from an old saxon word meaning foreigner, so the original brits now call themelves foreign in their own land.I once saw graffiti stating,”welsh not british”.What a contradiction in terms.We are
Cymru,fellow countrymen and women.It is time to ditch our slave name once and for all.

ERNEST
Guest
ERNEST

The real problem for Wales is we still do not have our own broadcasting and printed media. There are a lot of similarities between many independent countries in most regions of the world. If Wales should not have independence because it shares a lot in common with England then England should be part of Germany using that argument because they have a lot in common. Actually, I see Wales in the same position as the Baltic states in the 1990s with two competing centralising ideologies in their borders. They got their independence by the determination of their peoples. There can… Read more »