New Nation magazine: new or not so new?

The new New Nation magazine

Syd Morgan

Among the many bold step-changes triggered by Plaid Cymru’s new leader, Adam Price, we’ve seen the publication of New Nation, in English.

It’s important to stress that this is published by an arms-length political foundation, not the Party, and is a sign of the tact and capability the collegiate Price is re-introducing into the national movement.

We should recognise that this is an important initiative in support of a Party reaching out to win a plurality of seats in the 2021 Senedd elections. With the existential threat to Cymreictod allowed by a more-British-than-Welsh Labour-led government in Cardiff Bay and the actualité of our increasing absorption into Anglophone Brexit Britain, this journal creates new political space for national resistance and counter-attack.

Cymraeg-speakers are fortunate enough to have some existing platforms for political, social and cultural discourse (there are not enough, of course). S4C and Radio Cymru provide a much more rounded service to the nation than BBC Wales and the Welsh ‘region’ of ITV England & Wales.

While there are daily newspapers in English, they are shrinking in readership. Cymraegwyr are better served by weekly and monthly newspapers and magazines. New Nation can, at least, rebalance that market for the di-Gymraeg, like me.

Like many of the former, it will publish substantive articles aiming to stimulate thoughtful discussion. Despite this being, sadly, of minority appeal, engaging the ‘chattering classes’ in the cause of independence is another level at which Plaid Cymru can change the nature of the public discourse. Radical Wales successfully played the same role in the 1980s and 1990s.

Reaching out

For sceptics, it is worth recalling that this parallels the political strategy followed by Plaid Genedlaethol Cymru from its foundation in 1926. In addition to Westminster and primarily local elections, it used three platforms; annual Ysgolion Haf, pamphlets and the monthly Y Ddraig Goch.

The likes of Lady Mallt Williams, DJ Davies and Noëlle Davies wanted an English-language political journal too, but were over-ridden until the Party launched The Welsh Nationalist in 1931. This had enormous  influence in helping create, in Saunders Lewis’ words “a new kind of nationalism”.

Reaching out further to our English-speaking majority, including incomers, was a constant process during the inter-war years. This finally paid off in a series a spectacular but largely forgotten by-election and general election votes across the southern coalfield in the 1940s, without any diminution of support in y Fro Gymraeg.

These are the same areas where, today, Plaid Cymru crucially needs to pick up new seats to lead our government in three years’ time. The brief timeframe available to create this political revolution should encourage Cymraeg-speakers in the Party allow space for New Nation to succeed.

After all, an Adam Price-led government will deliver the fair play and respect Cymraegwyr deserve. In this just cause, the continued strong support of the di-Gymraeg is essential. ‘Outreach’ like this arms-length-journal can do that.

Revolution

Crucially, we should not see New Nation as a stand-alone project. The Price agenda will also reinvigorate Party conferences and restore Ysgolion Haf to their former Summer University status – a welcoming combination of work and fun.

As primarily an electoral machine, we will as importantly see a literal revolution in Plaid Cymru’s campaigning capacity and a ballooning of its fund-raising reach, both of which are fundamental for triennial success.

All members should allow this new yet not-so-new linguistic outreach of New Nation its space to develop as part of the audacious Priceian revolution for the New Wales we want.


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