Goodbye Wales – hello Western England

Rugby – the only Welsh identity which will soon be left? Picture by: fromthevalleys- (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Wales will be consumed by England unless we can resist the hold that the London press has on our country, argues Dafydd Fôn Williams. This article originally appeared in the July issue of Barn magazine.

Plaid Cymru’s leader recently warned that a hard Brexit would erase any difference between Wales and England.

Northern Ireland and Scotland could go their own way, she said. And then England would swallow a defenceless Wales whole.

At first glance, she seems to be painting an extremely bleak picture. However, I think Leanne is a little bit behind the curve here. In reality, Wales is already half way down England’s gullet.

Nonsense, you say. Doesn’t Wales still exist on this side of Offa’s Dyke?

Yes, it does, as a piece of earth, a country on a map. Don’t most of our people revel in the football and rugby team’s success?

But singing ‘Hen Wlad fy Nhadau’ before the game, and living it after the final whistle, aren’t the same thing.

Yes, Wales exists in a tangible sense. What I have in mind are perspectives, attitudes, and mentality.

Most of Wales’ people are singing one anthem and living another.

A mirror of England

It’s true that a small, courageous minority are fighting against the tide, but they are small.

Over the past few years, Wales has become a mirror image of England.

Didn’t UKIP, at their peak, get the same support in Wales as they did in England?

UKIP didn’t as much as ripple the political waters in Scotland, but the sails of their jingoistic boats were filled in Wales by a strong easterly wind. And once England had enough of them, we did too.

And then, the referendum. There was no difference at all between Wales and England. 51.9% of England’s voters were for leaving the EU, and 52.5% in Wales.

Scotland and Norther Ireland voted to stay, but England’s loyal little whippet, Wales, remained at her side.

The opinion polls published during the Westminster General Election offers further evidence. Wales mirrored the Tories’ surge in England, and then again the Labour fightback.

Where England leads, Wales follows obediently.

We don’t need a hard Brexit, Leanne, to make Wales disappear. Its people are already rushing like lemmings towards the cliff to oblivion.

No press

Barn magazine’s cover this month

But why is this happening? A small part of the answer is of course due to immigration. The 2011 census showed that 20% of the population were born outside Wales.

Most of those have moved from England, many late in life. It’s no real surprise, therefore, that many would retain the mindset and voting habits they had beforehand.

But that leaves 80% of the population who were born and continue to reside in Wales. They surely should think like Welshmen, and put the interests of their own country first?

Why therefore are the majority incapable of doing so?

The answer is simple. It’s because of the lack of, and shortcomings of, our national media, particularly in English.

On our TV and radio channels, news about Wales is just a small supplement to the main bulletins. Priority is given to what’s going on in London and England, feeding the audience with English viewpoints about English events.

And then there’s the print press. In contrast to other countries, Wales does not have a national English-language press.

We don’t have one national newspaper that would sway people’s opinions, or argue for what’s best for Wales. Our opinions are formed instead based on what’s in the London press – who shamelessly argue on the basis of what’s best for England.

The Mail and the Sun and the Mirror are constantly drip-feeding their own viewpoints into our national subconscious, and they have no interest in the formation of a separate Welsh identity.

In fact, the London press does not consider for a moment that Wales deserves any attention at all.

Even our Welsh-language news programmes on radio and TV spend their mornings discussing what’s in the London papers.

The other day, one of the top stories on Radio Cymru was Theresa May’s plans for the NHS. How relevant, RC, considering that health has been a devolved matter for 18 years!

Western England

Wales’ press

‘But,’ I hear you cry, ‘we do have two newspapers that do pay attention to current events in Wales.’

That’s completely true, and fair play, they do their best.

One of them even recently won an award for the best local paper.

But that’s the problem, isn’t it? These aren’t national newspapers that lay out a national agenda and viewpoint, but rather two very large local papers, one for the north and the other for the south.

As local papers go, they’re fine (although the one I receive is too full of endless court cases). But they’re not papers that attempt to nurture or guide a sense of national consciousness.

And that is why most people in Wales think in the same way as most of England’s population.

It’s the English newspapers that ultimately feed us information and shape the landscape of our minds.

Go out to any street in Wales, and ask them who is responsible for education and health and housing in our country.

You will then see what effect our dependence on the English press has had on the majority in Wales (and Radio Cymru’s editors as well!).

No, Leanne, it won’t be a hard Brexit that will be responsible for our nation being swallowed. It’s already happening. Our minds have already been consumed, because we do not have a press in English that nurtures the idea of a nation.

Rather, it nurtures the idea that we are but an annexe to the larger and much more important country over the border.

Until we ourselves have a national, daily press – on paper, or digitally – we will just be prey to be picked off.

A soft or hard Brexit, we won’t be here. Just Western England.

Apart from when the football or rugby’s on, of course!

The June issue of Barn is available now and costs £3.99.

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Anhysbus
Guest
Anhysbus

Luckily we have Nation.Cymru to start the fight back now! Seriously though, I would like to thank everyone who has contributed or read Nation.Cymru over the last few weeks. We so desperately need a place to share and read news for Wales by Wales. I’ve been feeling disheartened recently about the future of our country, however I’m now starting to allow myself to hope that we are at the very beginning of something big, a fightback/comeback of Welsh Nationalism and pride that has been lacking since the 90’s. If it does come then we owe a large amount of thanks… Read more »

R. Tyler
Guest
R. Tyler

“The 2011 census showed that 20% of the population were born outside Wales.” The figure was over 27%.

Jac o' the North
Guest

Exactly! Wales is being colonised, but what is Plaid Cymru’s reaction – stay schtum! Perhaps for the first time in recorded history a small country is being colonised and slowly extirpated yet the self-appointed ‘national’ party says nothing! What Wales needs more than a media is the kind of leadership that Plaid Cymru is refusing to provide.

Jac o' the North
Guest

I’m amazed that Plaid Cymru escapes so lightly.

If Wales had a national party like the SNP it would be more difficult for the London media to ignore us and it might help generate a stronger indigenous media. But as long as we have nothing but a regionalist socialist party, the ambition of which extends no further than going into coalition with the English Labour Party, then what do you expect?

Dave
Guest
Dave

Well said, this message MUST be distributed far and wide England as a nation has been trying to consumer Wales since Alfred brought the tribes together. Ever since our nation our culture has been slowly eroded, think if our language, the welsh not, the blue books etc, etc! Our people who wear red and cowboy hats on game day need to have their eyes opened to what is happening on every day of the year not just for 80 mins playing the men in white.

iantoddu
Guest

Yes it is important to have a Welsh media. Yes, the media does contribute towards how people think. But regarding the referendum, the situations in Scotland and NI were both very different. Even the most extreme Loyalist in NI would be reluctant to see a return to a hard border between them and the republic – the vote was not all over everyone thinking that belonging to the EU was a wonderful and progressive thing to do. In Scotland, even those nationalists who wished to leave the EU would have preferred to see a break with the UK as the… Read more »

desdelguinardo
Guest
desdelguinardo

Precisely Ianto. Calling people stupid are not going to get them over to our side.

iantoddu
Guest

No it are not. But some people are idiots. I was particularly referring to calling people “loyal little whippets”, idiots etc for this reason, not as a general principle. I don’t believe in doing or saying things purely to “get people on ‘our’ side”. That can lead to being deceptive and conniving. I do not think of myself being on a ‘side’, and certainly have no idea if you are on ‘mine’. And there are definitely people I would not want to be on my ‘side’.

desdelguinardo
Guest
desdelguinardo

As it was in Barn, this is a dire article, pointing out the obvious and lamenting and moaning once again instead of actually suggesting ways to move forward. Thank goodness for people who actually do things.

Capitalist and Welshnash
Guest
Capitalist and Welshnash

I have begun to share your articles with friends online. An excellent thing we have going here. I hope to contribute an article of my own on the future. Dal ati, diolch yn fawr. Not having our own press is one of the biggest problems we face as a people if not the biggest.

anhysbus
Guest
anhysbus

Glad to find another Capitalist Welshnash!

Cant y Prydferth
Guest
Cant y Prydferth

I stopped listening to Radio Cymru in the day because it was so focused so much on Eng – sad, as there’s not much choice for a siaradwr Cymraeg!

Daily Wales
Guest
Daily Wales

There was a similar initiative to Nation.Cymru, launched three years ago. Daily Wales. By 2015 the website had over 20000 readers a week. Unfortunately it was hacked and destroyed on the orders of someone who is now an AM. Very sad. Hopefully this won’t happen to Nation.Cymru. The editors of Daily Wales worked for free, some full time, for nearly two years. We published nearly 2000 original pieces in two years. Good luck Ifan. Watch out for the fakes, snakes and backstabbers though.

Cant y Prydferth
Guest
Cant y Prydferth

Who is the AM>?

Robert Llewellyn Tyler
Guest
Robert Llewellyn Tyler

I was overseas and never understood what happened to DW. What did happen? It was such a shame when it ended.

iantoddu
Guest

I was not abroad at the time, read the Daily Wales regularly, found it interesting and useful (though the quality of the stories varied dramatically – the contrast between their article on King Arthur and the one which has just appeared in Nation Cymru is quite striking. Fair play to Daily Wales for doing it, though, volunteers all. Impressive for that, and useful while it lasted) and I have no idea what happened. The site disappeared in 2015, but the odd thing is that at the same time everyone involved with the thing seemed to fall silent too – not… Read more »

Daily Wales
Guest
Daily Wales

Whoever wrote “Whoa, Whoa Anonymous!”certainly wasn’t at the centre of things. We have no idea who they are, or JD and Phil D for that matter.

The truth is out there. In fact, very often, it is right beneath your nose.

anon
Guest
anon

1. People have been saying Wales will die soon for decades (just read Wythnos yng Nhymru Fydd). It won’t happen. 2. Newspapers are dying. The vast majority get their news from tv, radio and the web. Across the UK, the Mail and Sun only sell roughly 1.5m copies each. A nation-building, proper newspaper for Wales would make little difference because hardly anyone would buy it. They might read links online but they can do that now with Wales Online. Yes, people don’t understand devolution and the media doesn’t help here. But studies of England also show little understanding of how… Read more »

jk
Guest
jk

“And then, the referendum. There was no difference at all between Wales and England. 51.9% of England’s voters were for leaving the EU, and 52.5% in Wales.”

The numbers here I’ve seen propagated elsewhere, in fact the proportion voting leave in England was higher:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Results_of_the_United_Kingdom_European_Union_membership_referendum,_2016

52.5% in Wales and 53.3% in England (+ Gibraltar), not the UK wide number of 51.9% that is published here.

jk
Guest
jk

Sorry, in isolation that looks like a negative response to the article. I neglected to also comment that I appreciate the article and the site you’re running. All the best in the endeavour.