For the simple reason that having lived in Wales before for three years, it quickly became obvious to me that she was getting a rotten deal and that her current situation wasn’t exactly serving her well. And let’s face it – it’s not: you only have to compare Wales’s GDP per Capita to those of other countries in Europe to wonder what the hell is going on.
Wales ought not to be an underdeveloped place on the periphery of anywhere – she is at the centre of the British Isles and surrounded by richer neighbours on both sides. Yet successive government policy in Westminster for decades has been to under-fund Wales compared to Scotland and Northern Ireland and to neglect her infrastructure while using her as a dumping ground for things that the locals haven’t wanted – like military bases in scenic countryside and reservoirs that have flooded villages; and now super prisons and toxic waste.
Let’s face it – if any other European country, a political party had governed that country as badly as the UK has managed Wales, then that party would be swiftly voted out of office.
And then there’s of course the language. Before I came to Wales in 2014, many in London told me that on no account should I ‘waste my time’ trying to learn Welsh. I instinctively took a different view – that when in Rome, I should do as the Romans. And just because the Welsh Language has suffered a great injustice and been weakened by that injustice does not mean that we incomers should continue to do it injustice by not learning it when moving to the Fro Gymraeg – on the contrary.
The Welsh language has been one of the saddest casualties of Welsh membership of the United Kingdom – of all the independent nations of Europe, in only two, Ireland and Belarus, is the indigenous language no longer the majority language – and in both cases it was brought about by foreign occupation and not local democracy.
As part of the UK, it seems that Wales, Ireland, and Scotland have had to sacrifice their indigenous languages in exchange for membership, while England seems to have gotten away with not sacrificing hers. Funny that. Integration and assimilation within the United Kingdom has been very one-way, don’t you think?
|My article in Nation.Cymru|
And it’s not just language, it’s also other people’s awareness of your very existence - many people in other countries think that Wales is just another province of England, and that the Welsh people are Anglo-Saxon, with similar ideas about Scotland and even the Republic of Ireland. A Union of Equals? You tell me.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I would have loved it if the United Kingdom had been one-big-happy-family with all the different languages and cultures thriving and equal, like in say, Switzerland or India. But unfortunately, that isn’t how it’s worked out.
Now, I appreciate that with greater language rights and then devolution, the United Kingdom has reformed itself greatly, and is much more like a happy family than ever before, however a lot also hasn’t changed, like, for example, the ‘dumping ground’ attitude towards Wales, and the neglect of her infrastructure, and the subsequent inter-regional inequality that still plagues these islands.
So that, my readers, is why I am a Welsh nationalist – for the simple reason that I know that Wales deserves better.