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Opinion

F**k You Wales

18 May 2024 7 minute read
A pay and display car park sign.

Gwern Gwynfil

This is essentially what the carpark management company One Parking Solution are saying to Wales.

Their incredible obstinance in the face of polite and reasonable requests to provide correspondence in Welsh or bilingually seems to speak to something far deeper.

A reflection of a deeply unhealthy attitude towards Wales, the people of Wales and the idea of Welshness. This is far more than an issue of language rights.

It transpires that the existing law of England & Wales gives the right to do this.

Reflect on this as a persuasive argument for justice to be devolved to Wales. It could be argued that in making the right of parking companies to disrespect the Welsh language in Wales defensible, the law of England & Wales as it stands today is saying to all of us that disregard and denigration of Wales and Welsh culture in all its manifestations is acceptable.

Insult

The denigration of Welsh is not just an insult to Welsh speakers but to everyone who lives in our nation. The language is everywhere, in names, in colloquial English (cwtsh anyone?), in both the anthem and the unofficial anthem, in the very rhythm of the way we speak English.

The language is clearly a symbol of Wales and belongs to everyone who lives within our borders.

This is incredibly important. Everyone in Wales is undermined when the world which they inhabit, love and call their own, of which they are a part, is diminished.

Not just Welsh speakers or the Welsh born, everyone. Welsh is part of the land and culture, the very fabric of that world. If you’re in the house and someone’s throwing stones at the window, they’re throwing stones at you.

Anyone who chooses to ignore, dismiss or look down upon our language is disrespecting all the people who live in Wales.

The time has come to draw a line on this. Every one of our politicians, every single one, should stand up and loudly proclaim that such abuse of Wales will not be tolerated.

Show some respect, make the effort and ditch the tail end of the attitudes which gave us the Treason of the Blue Books 175 years ago, condemning Welsh and Welshness as moral failures unworthy of the great civilising forces of Victoria’s Empire. There is no place for it in the 21st century.

We in Wales, collectively, should have the confidence and self respect to stick our heads above the parapet and explain clearly and with conviction that this is not acceptable and will not be tolerated.

Where Sheen Leads

It’s fair to say that Michael Sheen’s recent zero tolerance approach to a social media troll has partly inspired my own unleashing of frustration in this op-ed. It is time for us to draw a line in the sand and say ‘stop, enough already’ when it comes to the post-colonial degradation of Wales within the UK. Time to grow out of historic preconceptions and assumptions and accept that we live in an age where nations, large and small, can front up to each other as equals. An age where respect is demanded and happily given, an age where its absence will be called out.

So I’m calling out One Parking Solution (and others of their ilk). I’m calling out the UK government too for their ostensible desire to Britishify. It is my choice to be Welsh, it is my choice to be British, it is my choice to be European. I can be all of these things without having to see the Union Flag behind every Westminster politician in every single public appearance.

Colonial Outposts

Indeed, for my part this draping of the Union Flag is counter productive, it makes me actively less British every time I see it. Twice a week I drive past the DWP building on Trefforest Industrial Estate in Ffynnon Taf.

Outside there is a flagpole upon which an outsize Union flag is raised. No Draig Goch. This is an industrial estate. It does nothing except make the DWP building look like a colonial outpost in Wales. It sits uncomfortably with me every time it hoves into view – an imposition of a value set that I do not wish to adopt.

The result? Twice a week my level of Britishness gradually diminishes in small increments of discomfort whilst my relative delight at claiming Welshness and being an European increases.

To be clear, there was a time where I would have been content to describe myself as Welsh, British, European. The ‘muscular Unionism’ emanating from Westminster has brought this time to an end.

Every time I drive this road I am thankful that I have alternatives and do not need to feel any affinity for this symbol Westminster seems so determined to impose upon us all. For fans of Catatonia out there, the chorus of International Velvet echoes happily in my mind with fervour and meaning.

International Wales

In our age, identity has become increasingly fluid. This makes it more important than ever. We can all choose our own identity today. It is our choice and ours alone.

It is most certainly not for governments to choose our identities (especially in a nominally modern and progressive democracy). Neither is it the choice of presumptive and overbearing parking companies. If I live in Wales and part of my identity is to define myself through my use of language then when I ask to be addressed, in either of my nation’s two official tongues, then it should be fully accepted and respected.

Anything less is prejudicial to who I am and what I represent as part of my culture and my nation.

Those who can’t speak Welsh should also support this wholeheartedly. If something which so obviously belongs to all of us as a nation and as a country can be dismissed and legally abused ask yourself what else do they feel they can abuse, steal or deny?

Every time we wilt before the withering arrogance and superiority of those whose exceptionalism tells them they are better than us we give them permission to keep being abusive.

The Welsh language is a symbol of Wales just as much as the Dragon and the Daffodil. Those who denigrate it are attacking all of Wales and by extension every aspect of Welshness.

When You See It

Outside of parking companies and the Westminster Union Flag waving ‘muscular’ bubble plenty of our lovely neighbours can see the truth of this. This is heartening. The story shared by the former UK ambassador, Alexandra Hall Hall, on X/Twitter demonstrates this.

In her account the scales only fell from the eyes of the individuals in that room because an angry Welsh person had the temerity and confidence to stand up and tell them, with some passion, that they were blind to their own prejudice.

When will the rest of Wales have the confidence and self belief to stand up and tell all of our neighbours, to tell the central apparatus of UK government, that we will no longer sit quietly in our corner and be treated like an underclass of ‘British’ within some strange, misplaced and nostalgic AngloBritish cultural vision. This has never truly existed and it never will – ‘muscular Unionists’ should reflect on the counterintuitive consequences of their attempted imposition of such an alien concept on the remaining fringes of their fading dream of empire.

Come on Cymru, time to draw the line and say once and for all – enough is enough. Within our borders, treat our language, our culture, our identity, with respect and decency. Leave your exceptionalism and your prejudice behind. Be better.

In return you’ll find we are excellent neighbours who probably won’t begrudge paying a parking fine fairly given in the official state language of our choice.


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Evan Aled Bayton
Evan Aled Bayton
16 days ago

It is just another aspect of the absolute contempt with which these companies treat everyone. They are firm of legalised extortion. It is extremely difficult to reverse unfair decisions due to absent signs broken machines etc. they should all be banned and local authorities should collect their own parking fees. They are equally bad in hospitals. They should be forced to spend at least some of their ill gotten gains paying for Welsh letters and notices in Wales.

Linda Jones
Linda Jones
16 days ago

If you cannot read the signs easily you dont have a contract with the company. You shouldn’t pay

Richard 1
Richard 1
16 days ago

I’m very much in sympathy with the idea of asserting equal status in practice for the two languages. What we need is a few ideas for a popular campaign – I mean what can we ALL do?

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
16 days ago
Reply to  Richard 1

Easiest and simplest would be to insist that the Welsh Government passes legislation that does a proper job of sorting out where the two languages have to be used – and that’s simple: pretty much everywhere except in situation where only a very few people would be affected, i.e. where say, less than 150 people so that resources aren’t wasted through say, translating a specialist technical information with a very limited audience. One of the major weaknesses of the current legislation is that it on the one hand confers equal status on the two languages and then immediately confines one… Read more »

Last edited 16 days ago by Padi Phillips
Richard 1
Richard 1
15 days ago
Reply to  Padi Phillips

Brilliant contribution. I’ll write to my ASs. Also I’ll look forward to more NC coverage of the issue.

Jeff
Jeff
16 days ago

List the car parks where they operate and boycott them where possible.

Not clear on their web site.

Rhufawn Jones
Rhufawn Jones
16 days ago

Blatant colonisation. Wales is just a resource to profit from. Ysgymun.

Riki
Riki
15 days ago
Reply to  Rhufawn Jones

The people of Wales are Britons, so as long as Wales is in the UK, England gets its most valuable treasure….the title of Being British! This has never been about Gold, or Coal, or even Water.

Annibendod
Annibendod
16 days ago

It is naked CULTURAL CHAUVINISM. A form of outright prejudice. Not racism but a comfortable bedfellow to racism. Wholly morally reprehensible yet exercised by every ANGLO-SUPREMACIST in these isles. It is precisely what is at the root of opposition to a Welsh State, whether explicitly (“Wales will be run by the Welsh speakers”) or implicitly (“Too small, too poor, how will you survive on sheep”). It is also a core pillar of ANGLO-IMPERIALISM, that miscasting of Britishness and Englishness as a singular identity to be imposed on the British Isles and extended around the world in pursuit of its capitalist… Read more »

GCJ
GCJ
15 days ago
Reply to  Annibendod

Cytuno yn llwyr fod yn bwysig cael pobl gyda’r weledigaeth a’r gallu fel Gwern yn y Blaid.

Annibendod
Annibendod
15 days ago
Reply to  GCJ

Yn wir 👍

Riki
Riki
15 days ago
Reply to  Annibendod

Very well said, Our part in allowing for the English to be incorrectly seen as British should not be forgotten. Cymru gets its independence when we put pressure on the UK by exposing their contempt and theft of our ancient identity. British directly coming from Briton, a Latin name for the natives. Native English people call Welsh.

Annibendod
Annibendod
15 days ago
Reply to  Riki

Like I said in my original post, I stand for progressive British pluralism. I don’t agree when you imply that the English aren’t British. That’s not right either.

Riki
Riki
14 days ago
Reply to  Annibendod

Well I’m sorry but they can’t be British and Anglo, as they were and are two ethnic and cultural groups. Masse adoption of a cultures terms doesn’t make you one of them! It’s not religion!!!! If a million people from Wales moved to Japan, their descendants would be Geographically Japanese but not ethically or culturally. Doesn’t matter how long they stayed there and if they indeed founded a separate nation on the island of Japan. Was the term British originally coined for one group of people? Yes! Were they fighting for centuries another group of people who weren’t? Yes! The… Read more »

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
16 days ago

Any Welsh language law is useless when Wales is bound by an English Criminal Justice System. These fly-by-night companies, effectively blood sucking ticks, who are allowed to take hostage vehicles, are free to spit in the face of those who maintain our language, culture & history. It’s their birthright have provision in Welsh. Enough is enough. No other country would put up with this “Welsh Not” slight. We in Wales have already been shafted by both the Conservatives and soon Labour when it comes to HS2 consequential. So the devolution of our Policing ,Criminal & Youth Justice Systems must be… Read more »

Last edited 16 days ago by Y Cymro
Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
15 days ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

Legislation over the Welsh language is a devolved power, so very much within the remit of the Welsh Government and the Senedd. It’s English law because that’s the only legal system we have. Similar laws under a Welsh legal system would result in the same outcome – crap laws, crap judgments. It’s long been known that the laws supposedly safeguarding the Welsh language are completely inadequate, Cymdeithas yr Iaith started campaigning for a better language act before the 1993 act came into effect, due to the well known shortcomings of that piece of legislation. That those shortcomings weren’t properly addressed… Read more »

Drych
Drych
15 days ago

Rather than blaming others over Offas Dyke – we perhaps – all of us need to look in the mirror ? We should ask ourselves a simple question…

“ What am i doing to achieve full equality of opportunity and choice for our language and culuture ? “

Richard Thomas
Richard Thomas
15 days ago

One thing I would caution against here is assuming independence would change anything. Ireland has had an whole century to change their language laws and they have the exact same situation in theory as private companies are not subject to laws forcing them to provide for the native language. The issue here, as in Ireland, is that there is little interest from the powers that be in actually changing this. Even organisations that talk a good game on the language display little interest in the nitty-gritty. I went to last year’s Welsh Cup Final at Bangor; the ticket was almost… Read more »

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
15 days ago
Reply to  Richard Thomas

A better model would be that of Canada, with the proviso that in Wales any similar legislation would need to be on steroids. Indeed, the situation of Francophone Quebec within Canada is interesting to consider. I think we in Wales need to be far more proactive in creating the space where our national language can thrive without worrying too much about those who will see it as an encroachment on their linguistic right to speak English as if there was somehow an immanent threat to the existence of the English language. Beware of taking comments in the Daily Post, or… Read more »

Gareth Wyn Roberts
Gareth Wyn Roberts
15 days ago

I have just read some recent trustpilot reviews about this company. I have attached one example. There seems to be a general lack of willingness to engage with their customers. The language issue is part of a much wider issue with this company

IMG_7980
Dr Jonathan F Dean
Dr Jonathan F Dean
15 days ago

Excellent article!

Riki
Riki
15 days ago

Ah yes, Wales!!!! One of the last few examples of Xenophobic bigotry towards a people that is not only still allowed, but encouraged.

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