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Opinion

We are not yet a nation

21 Mar 2024 4 minute read
Wales Map engraved and published by William Blaeu Circa 1645

Simon Paul Hobson

Cymru is not a nation.

Although often referred to as a nation, particularly within the context of sporting events, Cymru has no legal status as a distinct country or nation within the union of the United Kingdom. 

Since the trickle of powers began to be returned to Cardiff in 1997 there has been a growing awareness of ‘Welshness.’

With devolution now the settled will of the people, it is apparent that the ‘reserved power’ model imposed by Westmister continues to fail Cymru.

Most people now appreciate that no matter which colour of government resides in Westminster, Cymru, and its people, will be ignored.

Injustices

These Westminster injustices, imposed through the antiquated centralised and first-past-the-post electoral system of the UK government and the self-inflicted disaster of Brexit, were pointed out as contributing factors to the degradation of our nation in the recent Independent Commission on the Constitutional Future of Wales.

A burgeoning realisation of these facts are feeding people’s understanding that Cymru’s future is best served as a sovereign nation, free from the United Kingdom.

While the majority in Cymru have a sense of nationhood, few are campaigning for that to be recognised in law.

Owain Glyndŵr

Recognition of Cymru as a nation, and of its distinctive character is a matter of special importance.

Until it is formally and legally documented in acknowledgement of our country as a nation the journey towards full self-determination remains hampered.

Fortunately others have achieved this before Cymru.

There is a procedure, brought to fruition within a Westminster-style parliamentary system, we can follow.

Québec

The recognition of Québec as a ‘nation within a united Canada’ is a complex and ongoing political and cultural phenomenon in Canadian history.

But it is a story which everyone in Cymru will not only understand but from which can draw inspiration and a practical model of approach to attain our own nationhood.

As is true of Cymru, Québec has a distinct linguistic heritage and culture separate from that of English Canada.

Montreal protest. Image: Gerry Lauzon

And while the legal system in the rest of Canada is based on common law, adopted from England, Québec follows a civil code.

Cymru also has a history of its own legal structures which have been superseded by its adopted and imposed English judicial system.   

Much like Cymru, the roots of Québec’s distinctiveness and aspirations for recognition as a nation can be traced back to its history of attempting to maintain a distinct identity within the context of the British Empire.

Demands

As with Cymru, Québec was subject to conquest. Over the centuries, both nations have striven to preserve their language, culture, and identity.

The ‘Quiet Revolution’ of the 1960s marked a turning point in Québec’s history, characterised by a surge in independantist demands for greater autonomy over the economy, justice and immigration.

In 1980 and 1995, Québec held referendums on sovereignty, both of which failed to achieve a majority vote in favour of independence.

However, these referendums underscored the depth of Québec’s desire for recognition as distinctive of the rest of Canada.

In November 2006, the Parliament of Canada passed a motion recognising that ‘the Québécois form a nation within a united Canada.’ 

Celtic family of nations

The recognition of Cymru as a nation within the United Kingdom would represent a significant acknowledgment of our country’s unique identity.

Photo by Charos Pix is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Cymru is a part of a Celtic family which embraces the Isle of Man, crosses the Irish sea, reaches north to Scotland and stretches south through Cornwall and Brittany.

Our country is welcoming to all but it is also the hearth and home of the Welsh language and culture.

Cymru is distinct from England, and this fact must be recognised in law. 

Having Westminster formally ratify Cymru as a distinctive nation within the structure of the United Kingdom, will bring international status and respect to our nation which has, to date, often been lacking in the words of lawmakers at Westminster.


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Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
20 days ago

“Having Westminster formally ratify Cymru as a distinctive nation within the structure of the United Kingdom, will bring international status and respect to our nation which has, to date, often been lacking in the words of lawmakers at Westminster.”…..even in the unlikely event the Westminster parliament would do that think an Independent Wales – outside the unequal so called ‘United Kingdom’ – will bring even more international respect and status to our Nation.

Last edited 20 days ago by Leigh Richards
Neilyn
Neilyn
20 days ago

I like it very much, yet, I fear it’s mere airbone pork. They are who they are, these UKers. The issue will have to be forced, one way or another.

Nia James
Nia James
20 days ago

Wales is so far down the pecking order at Westminster it is almost off the list. For most MPs and Lords we are a ‘region’ – a Western appendage of England. Note the number of times, when referring to Wales, politicians casually talk about “England and Wales”. Unless Welsh people decide who we want to be, and how we want the world to see us, nothing is going to alter. Perhaps our new First Minister could lead a ‘Campaign for Welsh Nationhood and Citizenship’? Nah, I didn’t think so!

Rhian Davies
Rhian Davies
20 days ago

Hi, And we must remember that the Cymry are a much larger figure than 3 million. There is a large number of us in Birmingham, Liverpool, and of course many have been part of a diaspora and reside around the world. Our influence is larger than our numbers in my experience.

Riki
Riki
20 days ago
Reply to  Rhian Davies

Indeed, one America Senator years ago claimed that comparable to its size, no other nation or people has had a bigger impact on America than that of the people of Wales. The reason why it goes unnoticed is because everything from this island gets presented as English.

Riki
Riki
20 days ago

Only England historically refused to see us as a Nation, that was ultimately designed to de-legitimise the descendants of the Britons over the island of Britain. Afterall, you can’t steal Britain if there aren’t any Britons, of better yet, the Thieves are presented as British. Hence why we had to be called something else, such as Welsh. Unfortunately for us, many of us believe we are somehow rebelling against them when we utter phrases such as “Welsh, Not British”. This couldn’t be any further from the truth. What we are really doing is disowning our ancestors and History.

Annibendod
Annibendod
19 days ago

Wales IS a nation. We do not need the imposed legalism of another nation to affirm our nationality. That is a cultural matter. We define ourselves and anyone who says otherwise can go twist in the wind. We are not internationally recognised as a Nation State. So we lack political nationhood. And of course this what needs to change as part of the process of the political emancipation and empowerment of the Welsh people.

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
19 days ago
Reply to  Annibendod

I think that we are still, in a political sense, still forging that sense of nationhood.

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
18 days ago

Not turning it into a Vaughan Gething discussion. The debate as to whether we are a nation or not is over. He has been widely reported and therefore acknowledged as the first black leader of any European NATION and as long as 55% of us, and hopefully rising, describe our nationality as Welsh on a Census then that is what it is and it cannot be changed nor questioned. Our nation is known and recognised not just in Europe but around the world. The national everything we have is going nowhere. Identity, language, anthem(s) flags x 3, sporting teams, individuals,… Read more »

Thor Ewing
Thor Ewing
17 days ago

It makes no sense to say Cymru can only call itself a nation if Westminster agrees. Nationhood is asserted by those who believe themselves to be a nation. I’m not Welsh myself, but surely anyone who calls themselves Welsh would consider it their nation, no? Cymru is a nation if the Cymreig say so. You don’t need permission!

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