Skip to content

Is it right to blame the English?

Imagine if Lembit Opik turned around and claimed that the reason why he lost Mont was due to an influx of immigrants living in Mont. It would be quickly condemned as a pretty racist remark and a pretty shite excuse to explain his result. He would be attacked by the media and probably rightly so, as it would be just a touch on the racist side, a side most of us want to avoid.

But is there really that much difference between that hypothetical comment and what Cynog Dafis, former Plaid Cymru AM and MP said in yesterday’s Western Mail?

Mr Dafis said:

“There has also been a demographic change in Ceredigion, to the point where up to half of the inhabitants are people who have either moved here themselves from England or are the children of people who have done so.

“This demographic change has reduced the number of people who have a Welsh perspective on politics.

“When the Liberal Democrat bubble was punctured towards the end of the campaign, voters elsewhere gravitated to the Tories or Labour. In Ceredigion, those parties don’t figure, so people tended to stick with the Lib Dems, whose only rivals were the Nats.”

As someone who is from England, but has settled and now set up home in Wales (got job, rented room, ate some Welshcakes) I can’t help but be a touch offended by the comments.

Mr Dafis is not a racist, that is clear, but would his comments be seen in a different light if they had been about a group other than those from England?

What it does reveal is that strange attitude that Plaid seem to have towards politics. This seems to be symptomatic of the underlying tone that Welsh people should vote Plaid because….well, they’re Welsh. Being Welsh means voting Plaid, and if that isn’t happening, it’s the fault of the English.

Having a ‘Welsh perspective’ on politics seems to simply means being born to the West of the border. Moving to Wales, and just not agreeing with Plaid on points of policy or seeing them as being fundamentally irrelevant in a political context means you just aren’t seeing things from that perspective. You’re wrong, they’re right, you just don’t see it.

The fact is I believe I have a ‘Welsh perspective’ on politics. Just because I’m not Welsh doesn’t mean that I don’t understand the desperate need for investment in the valleys, the cultural benefit and need to maintain and grow the Welsh language and the fact that rural communities are under separate pressures from urban areas. I just don’t like bloody leeks.

Discounting someone’s political opinion because they were born in a specific place, and almost complaining that it’s unfair that they are allowed to vote in your communities smacks of a lack of understanding of the general need for populations to move around, learn from different people and understand each others cultures.

Someone who moves to Ceredigion, even if it is just for a few years, has just as equal voice and right to express their political views as anyone who has lived there for ten generations. I am sure Mr Dafis would not want to ban Welsh students moving to London and voting there, so why does he target the English? Would he dare to include any other culture? Or are the English just fair game for Plaid?

Instead of blaming the English, maybe Plaid should be questioning themselves on why the politics that they espouse seems unable to connect with those from outside Wales? Is it because their manifesto was a joke? Is it because they have been unable to answer how they have any relevance on a UK wide basis? Is it because some see the language as important, but not the be all and end all in politics?

Plaid are struggling, that much is clear. And now they are lashing out at voters instead of looking at their own failings.

Feel free to continue doing that. It’s kinda helpful.

Related posts:

  1. English votes for the English
  2. Rise of English identity threatens Wales’ place in Europe
  3. Anyone know the English word for ‘Welsh’?

Posted in news.

Tagged with .

13 Responses

Stay in touch with the conversation, subscribe to the RSS feed for comments on this post.

  1. Illtyd Luke says

    ” seeing them as being fundamentally irrelevant in a political context means you just aren’t seeing things from that perspective.”

    You may well disagree with Plaid’s policies, which is fine. But i’d say that yes, seeing the second largest party in the Assembly as being ‘irrelevant’ means that you very much “don’t get” Welsh politics.

  2. Dwylo Cerrig says

    Very astute observations.

    I think Cynog may have found a psephologist ally the other side of Plunlumon. Mr Griffin, for it is he, said in post-election round up:

    “Perhaps the most sobering reality we must now face is the demographic disaster unfolding all over the country, but especially in Barking & Dagenham and London generally. The simple fact is this: we have been swamped by immigrants.

    “Labour is carrying out a policy of gerrymandering through immigration. This has meant the death of the old East End and by the time of the next General Election, London will be completely unassailable, colonised and in truth no longer part of Britain.

    “We need to develop a new strategy to protect our dispossessed and marginalised people in these ‘occupied territories.’ As our people are pushed first into political impotence and then into absolute minority status, to continue fighting first-past-the-post elections and securing an ever-dwindling vote is simply a recipe for demoralisation and failure.”

    Nick went on to say in a BBC interview that the BNP would now have to concentrate on northern England and the Midlands, as the colonaisation of London made it too difficult for them.

    Perhaps Cynog should be a little more careful with his words, lest that he and Griffin find themsleves on joint-ticket fighting for Ordovices self-determination.

  3. Greg Foster says

    I think you’ll find that meant irrelevant on a national level. Something that Cynog’s comments alluded to. Plaid weren’t able to posit a convincing case on their relevancy in Westminster and you suffered for it at the polls.

    • Illtyd Luke says

      Greg wrote “I think you’ll find that meant irrelevant on a national level. ” As we’ve discussed before, national level to some people means Wales-level. Wales is a nation. Plaid is a junior partner in government and is pretty relevant, as the Lib Dems were also once a junior partner in the Welsh Government.

      Putting that aside, in terms of the UK level, we have just been through a hung Parliament situation where the Lib Dems- to their credit- looked honestly at a non-Tory alternative. I guarantee that you were following events as closely as I was Greg. At a time when the Lib Dems wanted the DUP, the Green (1 MP) and even the independent Lady Silvia Hermon board, I do not see how Plaid with 3 MPs were irrelevant! In fact, Plaid and the SNP with 9 MPs formed the biggest parliamentary group outside of the big 3 parties.

      You are just saying Plaid are irrelevant because you do not like what they stand for. Even though we just experienced an electoral situation where every single seat was relevant! The arithmetic showed that.

      As for Dwylo Cerrig, who stated that “Perhaps Cynog should be a little more careful with his words, lest that he and Griffin find themsleves on joint-ticket fighting for Ordovices self-determination”- I do not find it at all respectful that you have compared a former MP and AM Cynog Dafis with a Nazi. I would be offended if I took you seriously. These kind of postings on Lib Dem blogs undermine your online campaigning. I remember looking at this before the election campaign began and Freedom Central took down an abusive post which was made under a pseudonym. I think this kind of strategy isn’t nice at all and if I was you I would take a look at it. There’s nothing wrong with using a pseudonym but they should not be used as a cover for commentary that is deliberately abusive or offensive.

      Take a look at it guys!

  4. E Jenkins says

    I’m proud to be Welsh but I don’t get why Plaid members seem to confuse national pride with a political philosophy. I’d go so far as to say it is creating a negative racial stereotype of the Welsh to suggest that we are so simplistic as a nation that we can’t be both proud to be Welsh and sensible enough not to vote for them!

  5. Rhywun Arall says

    Greg Foster, the fact that you don’t recognise that what Cynog was talking about WAS relevant on a ‘national’ level also says much about your Anglo-centric, unionist perspective.

    Wales is a nation & a country. The UK isn’t ‘a’ nation at all – it’s a state; a union; a kingdom; a country – comprised of 4 nations & 1 province. Which ‘nation’ isn’t Plaid relevant in?

    • Junius says

      Which nation isn’t Plaid relevant in? – well everyone except Wales I except – and that’s probably the fault of the English somehow.

  6. Simon Brooks says

    Perhaps a more relevant thread for a blog around ‘liberal’ values is when is Mark Williams going to learn Welsh? Or your man, Chapman, up in Dwyfor Meirionnydd, and many other Lib Dem candidates in Welsh-speaking constituencies? Or indeed why did Opik never get around to learning Welsh? Are there any Lib Dems at a senior level who have moved to Welsh-speaking Wales and learnt Welsh?

    This blog portrays an utter lack of understanding of minority rights, anti-racism, ethnic relations.

    When the ethnic and linguistic majority of a State moves in large numbers to an area associated with a small linguistic minority, this is not of itself wrong. However, when members of this majority refuse on mass to learn the minority language, this becomes colonisation (and, by default, racism).

    It is not the English ethnic background of so many Lib Dem candidates, activists and voters which is offensive, but the refusal of so many of them to learn the minority language in areas which they as advantaged members of the ethnic majority of the State have chosen to live.

    • Glass Half Empty says

      So Simon, by that logic, is a refugee who doesn’t learn English when they live in London offensive?

  7. Greg Foster says

    I’ve elected to hold off on learning Welsh until I know if I’m going to be staying in Wales. Seems like a fair call to me, since if I don’t stay in Wales it’ll end up being a massive waste of time, effort and money.

    And Plaid Cymru are barely relevant in Wales, take a look at the last Westminster election, they lost their deposit in more than 1/4 of the seats in Wales (11 seats). Yes they may be in government, but when it comes to support across Wales, their results leave much to be desired.

    • Hendre says

      So much for education for education’s sake…

Continuing the Discussion

  1. Tweets that mention Freedom Central - Freedom Central -- linked to this post on May 14, 2010

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Freedom Central. Freedom Central said: New blog post: Is it right to blame the English? [...]

  2. What we’ve been reading… | linked to this post on May 16, 2010

    [...] the latter part of the week parrying blows against their party, with the latter choosing to highlight comments made by Cynog Dafis about the influx of incomers (yes, that old chesnut again). It’s a post [...]