The top 10 most popular opinion pieces on Nation.Cymru in 2020
It’s been a busy year for news, with over 1,400 articles published by Nation.Cymru already this year.
But it’s also been a big year for opinion pieces and punditry, with Nation.Cymru providing a stage for that national conversation with almost 500 opinion pieces published on everything from BLM to Brexit to Covid-19.
But which were opinion pieces on the site were the most read of all this year?
10. Abdulrahim Abby Farah: The most important Welshman you’ve never heard of
With the Black Lives Matters protests in the news, Ian Johnson looked back at the story of Abdulrahim Abby Farah who was born on the same year and streets away from the 1919 Race Riots in Wales.
The man from Barry became a senior United Nations diplomat, leading the 1990 UN Mission that oversaw the dismantling of South Africa’s apartheid state. Ian asked:
“How is a man who clearly achieved so much in the world, remain so unknown in the country in which he was born and raised?”
9. With Welsh independence polling higher than ever it is no longer a fringe movement
Roger Awan-Scully, Professor of Political Science at Cardiff University, analysed the findings of the polling on Welsh independence in June:
“The centre of gravity in Wales remains one of support for autonomy within the UK. And independence certainly remains a minority position. But support for independence is no longer the preserve of a tiny group on the fringes of Welsh politics; it has clearly moved some way beyond that.”
8. Why I had a little cry after Mark Drakeford’s press conference
Helen Wales looked at the impact the Welsh Government’s Covid-19 lockdown was having on those living alone:
“Thursday evening marked the fourteenth week since I last touched another person. I’d have done more than pat that friend affectionately on the arm as we said goodbye on 12th March if I’d known what was to come. But hindsight is going to be one of the great gifts of 2020 – if we’re lucky.”
7. This was the day Westminster completely lost its marbles
In June this year the Leader of the House, Jacob Res-Mogg, decided to ditch the virtual House of Commons and force every MP to attend, even as it meant queuing for hours to vote. According to Nation.Cymru Editor Ifan Morgan Jones this was “ludicrous. Bizarre. Completely mad.”
“Let’s not hear another peep from Abolish the Assembly types about the superiority of Westminster after this – the institution has lost its marbles. And this along with the botched coronavirus response it all adds up to an image of a nation-state that just fundamentally doesn’t work anymore.”
6. ‘It’s the end of the world’: Why we should remember the clearing of Epynt 80 years on
The sad story of Tryweryn has won its place in the memory of the people, but Epynt has not. In this article Angharad Tomos looked back 80 years after the Chwalfa (the Clearing) of Epynt to make way for the British army:
“It is a cautionary tale, of how land can be exploited, of a community that was lost. It should be on the syllabus of every school, in Wales and beyond.”
5. Why it could be Wales – not Scotland – that ends up as the UK’s unlikely destroyer
The Covid-19 opened Pandora’s constitutional box as the Welsh Government wielded power beyond what it had previously had since the advent of devolution – and the people of Wales overwhelmingly backed their approach.
With rising support for independence, Theo Davies-Lewis considered whether it could be Wales not Scotland that calls time on the union:
“Although we are a few years away from having widespread support for independence, recent months have shown it is likely we will get there. In the next decade, it’s possible that Wales will have a better opportunity than Scotland to ask the question on its future and therefore decide the fate of the Union.”
4. The Cummings chaos encapsulates Westminster’s horrific mismanagement of this pandemic
The news that Dominic Cummings had travelled to the north of England during the pandemic lockdown was one of the defining governmental cock-ups of 2020, and writer Mike Parker laid into the government with his rapier-like wit:
“There is not a shred of lightness to be found in the horrific realisation that our own government is prepared to sacrifice the lives of thousands of its citizens in order to save the careers of a small handful of incompetent ideologues. It’s like looking for the funny side of having a brick hurled into your face. The word ‘punchline’ isn’t supposed to be quite that literal.”
3. We need more people to treat the Welsh language like Ant and Dec did
It’s often, unfortunately, people attacking the Welsh language that makes the news on Nation.Cymru, but Gareth Ceidiog Hughes had a good word for how I’m a Celebrity had handled the issue:
“The old prejudices remain in places, and we cannot shy away from that, but they are being eroded. I’m a Celeb has helped erode them even further. We should celebrate the small wins, and we should show our appreciation when the language is embraced, to encourage more of the same if nothing else.
“This is another small step forward for the language and it should be acknowledged as such. It shows what can be done with a bit of thought and consideration. But I do look forward to the day when celebrities who visit Wales accord the language the respect it deserves is no longer a pleasant surprise. I look forward to the day when it is no longer a reason to rejoice.”
2. Cardiff Council are at it again
Cardiff Council’s planning decision making was a running theme on the site in 2020, with the Military Museum in Cardiff Bay a subject of consistent scrutiny. But this article by Sam Coates was primarily concerned with the possible destruction of the Paddle Steamer, an iconic establishment in Loudoun square:
“Many Cardiffians will know intuitively what this headline means: to put it kindly, Cardiff Council’s cavalier approach to planning with respect to the wishes of the community, green open spaces, the built environment, and common sense and decency to boot.”
The article clearly hit a nerve!
1. Wales is past the peak. But now is not a time to be complacent
The most popular opinion piece of all on the site in 2020 was one in April by Bioinformatics PhD Angharad Shaw analysing the rise – and fall – of the first peak of Covid-19 in Wales. She finished with:
“Our long-term success will depend on a strategy of testing, contact tracing, and isolation. The testing has to be in place before R gets above 1 (which it would do, if we simply lifted all restrictions), otherwise, we will simply go into another cycle, the deaths will rise again, and we’ll face another lockdown.”
Did they listen?