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Opinion

Devolution means that the ghost of Meibion Glyndŵr can stay buried

03 Jun 2022 4 minute read
Protest in Nefyn on Saturday, May 1 against the rising issue of second home ownership in the area. Credit- LDRS

Ifan Morgan Jones

As the housing crisis in Wales continues to worsen, it seemed like only a matter of time before someone would raise the spectre of a return to the Meibion Glyndwr firebombing campaign of the late 70s to early 90s.

This week Gwynedd councillor Craig ab Iago said that he feared a return to the violence of the past as he had heard “even middle class and comfortably off people talking about this being an answer”.

“We need homes, not our homes being burnt down and people ending up in jail,” he said. “That is where we are at but torching houses is not the answer.

“The real issue across all areas is a lack of affordability in the market – every area in the UK is affected in different ways.”

Predictably, the UK press such as the Daily Mail and Telegraph jumped straight on the story with inflammatory headlines such as ‘Firebombing threat to Welsh holiday homes amid fury over spiralling house prices’.

There’s no doubt however that Craig ab Iago was flagging up real concerns. The current housing crisis in the rural south and north west of Wales is even more of an emergency than it was from 1979 to the mid-1990s.

House prices across Wales have rose 14.5% in the year to April, to an all-time high of £252,736. Ceredigion where I live has seen the biggest price jump in the UK, at 21%, with the increasing number of holiday homes identified by estate agents Rightmove as one of the causes.

The housing crisis has no doubt also been exacerbated by the pandemic, with the rise of the staycation, a ‘race for space’ and the ability to work remotely all playing a part.

No doubt some of these factors will abate and house prices in Wales are expected to remain stagnant over the next year or so. But with a cost of living crisis and a looming recession, wages in these areas don’t show any sign of catching up with house prices any time soon.

Unheard

However, despite this ominous backdrop, I don’t expect us to see a return to the political violence of the Meibion Glyndwr days anytime soon.

The big difference between the early 90s and today is that Wales now has its own devolved parliament and government.

A big factor in the 80s and early 90s was that Wales was run by a UK Government it did not vote for and which was unsympathetic to its concerns, seeking to solve the symptoms rather than the cause of the protests with a police and MI5 crackdown.

Today however Wales has an accessible democratic outlet whose feet it can hold to the now thankfully metaphorical fire.

As part of their cooperation agreement with Plaid Cymru, the Welsh Government has already announced a number of measures to attempt to crack down on the number of second homes in Welsh communities.

From April of next year, local authorities will be allowed to increase tax premiums on second homes and long-term empty properties to 300%.

Additionally, in order to qualify as an accommodation rather than second homes, they will have to be let out for at least 182 days in any 12-month period.

Some like Cymdeithas yr Iaith and the campaign group Hawl i Fyw Adra will of course argue that this is not enough. Others will say it’s the wrong solution, as the Conservatives, who favour more house building, have done.

But the point is that this is a debate that can happen at a national level – in the Senedd, with the Welsh Government having real powers to act.

This may be one reason why the campaign against second homes has, so far at least, not boiled over as it has at times in Cornwall which lacks any similar devolved powers.

Martin Luther King said that ‘a “A riot is the language of the unheard.”

Meibion Glyndwr wasn’t a riot, but it was a form of violent protest – a firebombing campaign. And whether you agreed or disagreed with the means, it’s fair to say that no one would choose it as a first resort if there was a ready political solution at hand.

In the age of devolution, rural communities don’t need Meibion Glyndŵr – or indeed his grandsons Wyrion Glyndŵr – to ensure their frustrations with the housing market are heard.


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Y Cymro
Y Cymro
6 months ago

Meibion Glyndŵr was a symptom caused by terrorist British state whose campaign of discrimination oppression and prejudice towards Wales and the Welsh language. And I suggest to all who care about Wales to educate themselves about Welsh history rather than walk through life ignorant. Read the Act of Union Wales 1535 -1543, see in writing the process of our ethic cleansing by England whose repulsive charter today would be worthy of the Hague and a war crimes trial alongside Putin and the Russia state. We had it worse than Ukraine. Our country was totally annexed by England. We stood alone… Read more »

hdavies15
hdavies15
6 months ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

You don’t appear to give any consideration to another possibility ….. that the British state engaged in a false flag campaign to arouse a climate of fear, suspicion and negative attitudes towards the independence movement and indeed anything to do with Welsh identity. Given the climate of dishonesty prevalent today I would not be at all surprised if a new variant of M.G was mobilised by those departments that favour such activities.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
6 months ago
Reply to  hdavies15

Oh sure, I agree. They are capable of anything. In the past Westminster governments have planted agent provocateurs to worm their way into a campaign groups or organisations soley to cause damage, chaos and encourage riots when protesting. This done to turn a would-be empathetic public against their cause. Just look at today’s restrictions on protesting. The Tories in the recent Queen’s speech announced new measures to criminalise someone chaining themselves to a vehicles or fences and interfering with national infrastructure i.e blocking roads, rail infrastructure and oil & gas facilities etc.. A recent example is Extinct Rebellion. The Murdoch… Read more »

Last edited 6 months ago by Y Cymro
Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
6 months ago
Reply to  hdavies15

Indeed H Davies. It’s been well documented that british army intelligence armed and colluded with ‘loyalist’ terrorist groups to carry out numerous murderous acts on both sides of the irish border during the ‘troubles’ – nothing the british state does should surprise us

Last edited 6 months ago by Leigh Richards
Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
6 months ago

I don’t think violence will happen or condone it. However, unless the tax hike and other action enables local home purchase – in other words people (particularly from across the border) stop treating Cymru as a holiday camp, then the tempo could well rise. People want to buy a home in their community – they should be able to.

Gill
Gill
6 months ago
Reply to  Steve Duggan

Where is The civil disobedience campaign with cymdeithas, they used to coordinate sit ins in the 70s and 80s, something like this needs to start up again. But the welsh middle classes have have been bought off living on grant money, public sector, buying house for350k and will not rock the boat. whilst the kids have their noses in a phone and are oblivious to everything else except th flavour of the day protest.

Llyn expat
Llyn expat
6 months ago

What about the housing crisis in the more urban parts of the country, where most Welsh people actually live?

Families left Y Fro for more urban parts in search of economic opportunity. Now their children can’t afford in or around Cardiff either. Clearly second home taxes aren’t going to help there.

Perhaps it shouldn’t just be conservatives who see building more housing to be the solution.

thuggee
thuggee
6 months ago

“accessible democratic outlet” lol, until you try and get them to change anything. we’re still waiting for the 2016 housing bills to come into law and they literally don’t affect any actual current sitting tenants. imagine how long it will take to make a law that does improve the lives of actual real poor people now. collect political promises in one hand, sh1t in the other, see which one fills up first.

Richard
Richard
5 months ago

The FWA , MAC , MG etc we’re an expression of frustration and often engaged a non party political set of folk from different backgrounds including the posh toffs of Carmarthenshire, some working class Deeside and GHa farming folk and unfortunately a v few with neo racist views. Their fears and activity were also used by others – no friends of Wales to smear more Main Steam and often elected representatives. I sat on my regional Police Authority with one now now dead councillor who had been in the squad dealing with these and he was very critical of the… Read more »

I.Humphrys
I.Humphrys
5 months ago

Mini houses and terraces. If the Welsh Gov. drag their feet (why do I suspect them?) is crowdfunding our own building company a possibility?
I would like to see Yes Cymru branch into practical projects, for obvious reasons.

Last edited 5 months ago by I.Humphrys
Quornby
Quornby
5 months ago

We will ALWAYS need Meibion Glyndwr, until such time as our “leaders” show that we are not all snivelling yes men like Hart and Co.

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