Beyond Brexit

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The Welsh national movement has expanded greatly over the last year. A recent poll put support for Welsh Independence at 32%, which is the highest it’s ever been. Brexit and the Covid period have shown how quickly things can change. However, it is mainly the young and people of the left that are backing it, Welsh Independence isn’t winning over Brexit supporters or those from the right wing of politics. What are the barriers to being Indycurious for right wing people?

I have always found the whole Brexit debate curious. The main thrust of the argument seemed to concern democracy, that policy decisions should be made locally at the UK level rather than at EU level. Surely if you take this argument to it’s logical conclusion, then if you support Brexit you should also support Welsh independence and greater powers for local councils. However judging from Brexiteer arguments there seemed to be something special about centralisation at the UK level. British Unionists have used the phrase ‘our precious union’ as something of high value, preventing a consideration of further devolution of political power.

I have supported Welsh Independence my entire adult life, yet for many years I felt I was fairly unusual and alone in this view, partly because I was living in England as so many young adults from Wales do. I grew up in Powys, with farmers sons for school friends, have a Conservative supporting family and when I was at school I got my news from the Daily Telegraph as that was the paper my family took. It would not have been surprising if I were to have turned out to be a Tory, except I didn’t.

I didn’t as I’m fairly geeky and bookish and spent a lot of time thinking about politics as a young man and one of the things I settled upon was a belief in the importance of subsidiarity, a word rarely heard in political discussions these days. Subsidiarity simply being the view that political decisions should be made the the most local level that is practical. It is simply this belief that led me to support Welsh Independence.

So, whilst I was reading the Daily Telegraph and the constant commentry that the EU was centralising too much political power in Brussels, it made a sense to me, yet I couldn’t get my head around why this principle didn’t extend to Wales.

The Brexit argument, whilst it dressed itself in the clothes of subsidiarity seemed to be more about identity, specifically identification with Britishness, with Britishness being portrayed as the plucky underdog battling the power of an elite [though former British colonies probably didn’t see it quite like that]. The Brexit campaign kind of left open whom this shadowy elite were and seemed to largely allow people identify ‘the Elite’ as whomever was against their interests.

The UK has been a declining economy for all my adult life. Support for Brexit was fueled by a hope for a major change that would turn things around. The UK has also had fairly hard right wing Tory governments during this period, surely this is the elite that has caused the problems for the Britons? Yet, this British establishment has been very clever in pointing the finger at ‘enemies within’ for the weakness of the UK economy: immigrants, catholics, muslims, liberal university educated people, the Welsh, the Scots and the Irish, the LGBTQ community, people who aren’t monolingual English speakers, single mothers on benefits and so on. Basically it’s anyone who doesn’t conform to a rigidly defined Britishness. Surely the stiff upper lipped British who created the largest empire the world have ever seen cannot possibly be at fault for economic decline.

Yet am I not British too? well yes, but first and foremost I’m Welsh! However, I’ve usually described myself as Welsh-British, because I feel an identification with the British isles and all the people of the British Isles. Really, I see myself as a Briton rather than British and that is quite a subtle distinction. A distinction that the Brexiteers [the people pushing Brexit, the Farages and the Rees-Moggs, not the Brexit voters have succeeded in bluring.

I did say that I was a bookish geek, so I have read History books. What amazes me now is that when I was at school the British Empire period wasn’t covered at all. I have now read about it and the history is full of terrible atrocities commited by the British state across the world. Yet the simple impression I had before this was that the British Empire was glorious and something to be proud of. History should not be forgotten, but just focussing on the nationalistic ‘glory of Empire’ just feels absurd with the full weight of history. Recently we had this very odd debate about whether Rule Brittania should be sung at the Last Night Of the Proms because there is to be no live audience this year, but a British jingoism somehow prevailed.

Yet, I don’t believe that Brexit was won in Wales by this British jingoism. The strongest support for Brexit came from the Valleys. I’m not from the Valleys, but I don’t think that many people there wave the Union Jack and sing Land of Hope and Glory every day before breakfast? However, many communities clearly feel a sense of decline, that they are neglected and are inspired by anything that offers hope. The question is why was Brexit seen as the answer and not Welsh Independence?

I think it has something to do with privelege. You have priveledge when you are a member of a group that isn’t discriminated against for the quality you have that makes you a member of that group. However priveledge isn’t that well understood. If you are white, male, heterosexual, able-bodied, protestant, a monoglot English speaker, born in Wales then you have a lot of priveledge. However, there are lots of people with all this priveledge who don’t get any advantages for being in the majority demographic group, life is tough and getting harder. There is perhaps a sense of resentment towards those perceived as having greater priveledge. What are these greater priveledges? Having a university education and being able to speak Welsh. Who are perceived to have those two priveledges? the advocates of Welsh Independence.

It is perhaps simply this barrier, that to many people look around society for ‘people like us’ to find a group that will support them, as there is a perception that their tribe is under threat and anyone “foreign” is regarded with suspicion. In Britain, this is those that stress a British identity that look like them: are white, speak only English, eat meat, are heterosexual, essentially culturally conservative people. They perhaps see a rapidly changing world, and they don’t like it and see an appeal in Britishness that represents tradition and old-fashioned values. Essentially ears are closed to the notion of Welsh independence as a means to make things better as it perceived as being liberal, when really Welsh independence is neither conservative nor liberal, it is for everyone.

The odd thing is that the Brexiteers, the Farages and Rees-Moggs have even greater privilege by nature of being super wealthy, yet the Brexiteers succeeded in deflecting that criticism by offering hope of betterment if only people would support them, despite this call coming part of the corrupt elite themselves. Both Johnson and Trump have succeeded in convincing people that they stand for ordinary people, when looking at their personal histories it is clear that they are not and people somehow are blinded and can’t see this.

A major weakness of the UK electoral system is the First Past the Post constituency vote, electing one member of Parliament. The biggest party in Wales is the Labour party, people have voted Labour every election, but things never get any better, so people opted to vote for a radical change. What is the difference between the change of Brexit compared to Welsh Independence. It could just be ‘backing a winner’. There is a huge bonus of being in a constituency that voted for the governing party in Westminster, local services are less likely to be closed and more money is likely to be spent on infrastructure. There is an incentive to back the winners, especially if those winners are promising help for people with privilege who gain no advantage from being privileged.

The challenge for those of us convinced by the need for Welsh Independence is we want to offer hope for a better Wales for everyone who calls Wales home. We are constrained by wanting to include everyone in that we don’t have people who are an enemy. The only enemy is perhaps these complicated concepts of centralisation and lack of democratic accountability through sticking with a UK state that is failing it’s people.

I feel that perhaps the solution tackle this issue of identity head on, to make it the defining feature of the campaign. During Brexit, my social media was filled with people expressing sadness about losing their European identiy. During the Scottish Independence referendum, people were expressing sadness about losing Scotland as part of their British Identity. I think there is a need to separate associations with political states from nations of people. If Scotland gained independence, I would not lose my affection for Scotland. I’ve never considered Ireland to be a foreign country. I would never regard England as being a foreign land either. Brexit has not made me feel any less European. It is to break this association of nationality with nation-states that many people seem to have and instead make it about people we share bonds with. Once the association with the UK nation-state is broken we can get on with making all of Britain a better place.

It’s a real shame that there is no flag to represent all the people of Britain. The Union Flag has been adopted by the far-right and perhaps it’s only when individual athletes at the Olympic games wave the flag that we can unite as Britons in celebrating their hard work and success.

We just need to find a way to help people see beyond British nationalism as a solution, but as part of the problem. Growing up as I did, I did feel a sense of pride in Britain. I lost that sense of pride, but retain a pride for the people of Britain.


As former Welsh rugby star, Eddie Butler poignantly put it at the AUOB march in Merthyr: “The United Kingdom that made my parents proud to call themselves British no longer exists”. We should free ourselves of the shackles of the British Empire and instead embrace an identity as Britons and move away from political structures that are failing us.

Home Alone

We now seem to be in the period of considering ending Covid induced home working and moving back to office working for administrative workers.

At a recent job I went through a long period of persuading my employers that it would be better for me to work from home, it took a lot of work and persuading bosses, despite having a job where all I needed was a computer and an internet connection. For me, it worked really well, I got more work done and was much happier. This was pre-Covid, I did miss live human interaction in the working day, but it was more than compensated for by saving two hours of time, energy and money by not commuting which allowed me to be more social in the evenings and have more energy for work. It worked really well. I was lucky to have the space to convert my desk area into something more office like.

The last six months or so have seen enforced home working for most office workers, some people have found it works well and not so for others, but it does seem to have worked well for most, though I hear some people are really fed up of Zoom meetings. Most people want to do their jobs well and don’t need a supervisor breathing down their neck, imposing restrictions of office codes of working, that suit some people but not all. For example, heating/aircon. We all work optimally at different temperatures. Some people like it hotter, some colder. To some extent you can control this with dress choices, but often office wear restrictions make it harder to pop a cardi’ on if cold. At my office there was always a set of negotiations about windows being open. The compromise was that people who wanted them closed took desks on the opposite side of the building and ised below desk heaters. Trying to provide the optimal climate for every desk worker is not easy and hard to make energy efficient. At home you can control the environment to suit you, albeit with higher household bills due to heating homes during the day in the winter months, however this cost is a lot less than providing the office space.

There now seems a greater choice for workers in how they work. I believe most people are like myself and know how we work most efficiently and actively seek ways to improve how we work and her individual choice seems to work better than a one size fits all system. Often bosses will seek to impose their style of working, which will not suit everybody, or believe that their underlings need an office environment to work well.

With more office space being reopened presents a challenge for the office based parts of organisations and the wider economy. The main challenge seems to be if workers choose whether you want to spend more time in the office or working from home then how much desk space do organisations need to provide and how much variance there is as it’s not economic to have lots of expensive office space sitting idle, or used once a week. If there is a mass office downsizing, how is that freed up space to be used. More housing seems the obvious choice in a UK context, but offices are not always well suited or placed for this conversion.

The UK government seems to be advocating a mass return to offices. The argument cited being the city centre economy. Whole industries of coffee shops, take-aways, transport infrastructure depend on people commuting to offices to be profitable businesses. However economic change, causes impacts on how infrastructure is used. In a UK context our built environment constantly changes and spaces are adapted. If a city centre sandwich bar closes, that may create enough demand in a residential area for a business to thrive.

On the other hand the benefits of allowing people to continue to work from home are massive. The Covid period has vastly reduced traffic on our roads and the morning and afternoon rush-hour, the environmental benefits of this have been huge, reducing the impact of commuting on climate change is surely going to go some way to reducing unnecessary climate change.

Then there is potential impacts on housing, where people are less forced to compromise with time/cost of travel to work against places that they actually like to live with convenient local services. Surely in such a time of change the size of the office service industry will fall. There seems little point of artificially supporting such a service sector. In any case having such a hub based economy wasn’t very efficient and transport systems have always been bad at trying to get thousands of people to a small city centre for a fixed time.

It seems allowing people the choice of where they work means communities will function better. It will encourage service industries to locate near to where people live, rather then where they are forced to go for work. City and town centre’s will become more livable for those who choose to live there. City centre’s can become better social hubs. High land values have always made it difficult for social enterprises, particularly venues or small independent stores to survive in city centres. Reducing land values in city centres will enable city centres to function better to serve the people of the cities, giving them increased social value at the expense of commercial value.

It will be interesting to see how things do change as our society seeks a new normal.

Culture Wars

I wrote a day or so ago about a story that ‘Rule Brittania‘ was being dropped from this years Last Night of the Proms as someone who loves the Proms. It has kind of blown up into this bizarre culture war.

I love the Proms, it’s a fantastic institution and long may it continue, but whether one of the patriotic British songs is included or not in the Last Night of The Proms second half party is really not important to the Proms. What is important is getting great pieces of music performed, new ideas tried out and new audiences having their ears opened to some wonderful music.

Today we had the UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, express his love for this quaint ditty, yet he hasn’t commented on the A-level fiasco his government were responsible for. Priorities? We’ve got the usual right wing suspects up in arms about their precious song, the Newspapers and on Social Media, blaming the BBC for being woke. I just suspect this is all from people who don’t attend regular Proms concerts and are commenting on something they don’t fully understand.

Digging into this a little, this is an unusual year, we have been banned form organising public concerts to prevent the spread of Covid, putting the likelihoods of the those who work in the music industry in a precarious place, for the greater good. So that the Last Night of the Proms is going ahead at all, is an achievement and will involve reduced orchestral forces and no live audience to singalong with anything. So criticism of the conductor, who seems to have merely suggested ideas of how this very different Last Night could work, a conductor who merely happens to support the Black Lives Matter movement has been blown out of all proportion.

The impression I get is that songs like ‘Rule Brittania’ are sacred to a sense of Britishness and we should somehow be proud of the British Empire to be patriotic? This is utter nonsense. I grew up in the UK, went to school in the UK and the British Empire was barely mentioned in my history classes. The British Empire caused huge suffering, destruction of culture and the ramifications of it are still suffered throughout the world. Not all of it was bad of course, but most of it was and we are supposed to be feel a pride in this, that as a Briton I am descended form people who supported this empire? History is something to be learned from, not something to be glorified. We should resist efforts that seek to erase history or falsify the truth of what actually happened.

It just feels that the far right is attacking the Proms for daring to consider dropping these songs of British patriotism and in doing so attack culture, just as the British Empire attacked cultures in Africa and as our economic system attacks music venues across the nations today. Some people describe this a ‘culture war’ and perhaps it is. On one side those who value different cultures and diversity and those who want everyone to conform to their one narrow culture, where we must all stand to salute for ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ and attack anyone for liking any other kind of music or culture. It’s just very worrying.

It’s just one song, sung at a party for a long standing music festival. It should only be an issue for the festival whether this particular song is performed in any year, and not for the mass media to score political points over.

Britons shall never be slaves

 

The BBC is considering dropping “Rule Britannia” and “Land of Hope and Glory” from the the Last Night of the Proms. It’s an interesting proposition. For those who don’t know what this is, allow me to start with a potted summary of what the Proms is:

The Proms, or the Sir Henry Wood Promenade Concerts are a series of classical music concerts that occur in the Royal Albert Hall, London every night over the summer months. What makes them special is the centre of the hall is reserved for promenaders or prommers, standing room in front of the stage for an affordable price of £6. They are not really promenade performances as there is usually not enough room to actually walk around during the music, but there is more freedom that being confined to a seat. The idea being to open up classical music to people who would otherwise not be inclined or able to hear classical music live.The programme always consists of a varied repertoire with concerts to appeal to classical music enthusiasts in addition to more accessible pieces and special proms to try and attract different audiences. This is all very wonderful, I have been a prommer many times and it has always been a wonderful experience, but alas, the audience is still largely the white middle class audience you get at any UK classical music event. Having send that I have tended to go to the more esoteric nights, rather than the popular nights.

Anyway after over 100 proms concerts, the season ends with the Last Night of the Proms Concert, which is something of an institution, which I have never attended, as an end of season party. The second half of the Last Night consists of patriotic propoganda British songs from the days of the British Empire and traditionally the Prommers wave flags and sing along. It’s all very silly and a rare opportunity for the stuffy classical music crowd to let their hair down and have a bit of fun.

Back in 1895, at the height of the British Empire, these patriotic songs would probably have not raised an eyebrow. However as every year passes, the irony of waving the Union Flag has increased and it is interesting over the years to see how this is dealt with by the prommers. Years ago, you would have seen mainly Union Flags waved, but over the years, people from other countries waved their flags, which gave it a more international feel. Last year most prommers waved the EU flag as a protest against Brexit. Thew point being, that here is a mainly middle class audience listening to nationalist songs but applying as much “British irony” as possible. These Last Night traditions are popular.

The issue is that some of the lyrics of these songs are racist. Notably in Rule Britannia “Britons never never never shall be slaves”, with the irony that the British Empire was built on the slave trade. However you could interpret it to mean “It’s perfectly all-right for non-Britons [non-whites] to be slaves”. Yet this song is one of the staples of the Last Night, usually sung with passionate faux nationalism, but there may be some nationalists who revel in such an opportunity and don’t realise it’s now ironic. You could say it’s just a silly tradition and it at least reminds people of Britain’s imperial past to compare with where Great Britain is today.

However this year the question of why on Earth are British cities still filled with statues of men who made their fortunes from the slave trade came up. We have the Black Lives Matter campaign and it’s 2020, yet this is still a very necessary campaign. Perhaps the Proms should be showing it’s support by dropping the songs that reference slavery from the Last Night of the Proms?

Yet, it’s not as if the Proms isn’t aware of the irony. Bryn Terfel sand a verse of Rule Brittania in Welsh one year and non-white singers have led the singing of this piece. Is this enough? Is keeping this tradition putting off non-white audiences from enjoying the Proms??

I like and value tradition. I don’t think that history should be forgotten. So there is a justification for some unease about whitewashing away these reminders, that the ‘Hope and Glory of Empire” came with the heavy price of slavery. It’s not as simple a dilemma as it seems on first glance. I think the best response to the statue issue was not to tear them down, but to place a new statue of a prominent non-white person slap bang in front of the old statue to show what 2020 society values. It would be good idea to perhaps replace Rule Britannia with a modern anthem that reflected 21st century Great Britain, but I can’t think of anything obvious. One idea would be to have a Welsh and a Scottish anthem, as the other material is very English. I wouldn’t want the Prommers to butcher their way through something in Cymraeg, so maybe ‘Guide me o thou great redeemer” the great Welsh rugby terrace anthem and ‘Flower of Scotland’ (just to hear the prommers shout ‘against who?’ which are both really good rousing singalongs?

Cracking Brexit and Unionism?

One of the recurring themes of this blog is my continuing endeavour to understand right wing arguments. It’s been a frustrating journey. I’ve had late night conversations with people where we’ve discussed what an ideal society would look like without disagreeing about very much apart from how to get there. What perhaps binds people of both left and right wing persuasions together is the shared view that neither group hates the other side but simply regard them as being naive in some way.

We also now live in a changing world, where people no longer get our news principally from the mass media (Newspapers, Television and Radio) but more often from Social Media. There is the claim that we now live in bubbles surrounded by people who share our beliefs, but it was perhaps ever thus, where people tended to buy the newspaper that reflected their politics, or simply allowed that newspaper to educate them in their political beliefs. My uncle bought the Daily Telegraph to ‘understand what the enemy were thinking’, but such choosing is I think rare in general society. You could argue that to educate yourself in this way is easy, you just read from a right-wing newspaper to understand the right. In social media you can choose to follow right-wing people.

In practise this is actually quite difficult. There seem to be glaring holes in statements and arguments made and to continually read such things often just makes you angry and you feel a sense of ‘why can’t you see the glaring gaps in the logic of your arguments’. Such that finding a commentator from the other side that you can tolerate most of the time is quite difficult. I am sure that if you this is flipped and a right-wing person reads left-wing postings, they probably feel the same way.

What makes a logical argument is simple a series of statements/ propositions that support a conclusions. If the propositions are true, then the conclusions must be true. For example:

George is a Cat. All Cats are grey. Therefore George is grey.

However in the real world we know that not all cats are grey, well unless the world is poorly lit anyway. So here the argument is false as the preposition that all cats are grey isn’t true.

A problem with political discourse, is that arguments are a lot more complex that this simple example. So late night political discourse at the hearth with a friend often gets quite deep as prepositions are broken down into their constituent prepositions, and the process continues until you’re discussing cats and haven’t put the world to rights at all.

We seem to live in a world where there is a lack of scrutiny. Arguments are not fully explored and things seem to becoming increasingly tribal. The election campaigns of Boris Johnson in the UK and Donald Trump in the United States, two FPTP democracies highlight this. A traditional election campaign would focus on persuading the undecided to support a candidate with arguments. These two campaigns made little attempt at persuasion through argument but relied entirely on firing up their tribe to support them. The logic being that it doesn’t matter is only 30% or 40% of an electorate support you as long as you can fire those supporters up to turn out and vote.

It just seems that the process of forming an argument has somehow ended. It is this which I have found frustrating. Some examples:

Brexit

The Brexit argument seemed to go something like this:

The EU isn’t very democratic

More Democracy is a good thing

Systems can be changed to make them more democratic

We should do good things

Therefore the UK should leave the EU

It’s an argument where I agree with the premises and don’t have a huge problem with the conclusion. However I voted for  Remain as  I questioned whether leaving the EU would make the UK more democratic. It could in theory, but in the real world we should also be asking if practically, in today’s politics whether democracy in the UK would increase. On Brexit this additional analysis has suggested that not only does Brexit not increase democratic accountability in the UK but actually reduce democracy, due to Trade Deals made which lessen democratic control.

Unionism

British Unionism is the ideal of maintaining the United Kingdom as a single nation state. The argument for the union goes something like this:

Having common rules and frameworks is more efficient, there are economic and social benefits from economies of scale.

A Union State increases the population subject to common rules and frameworks

Therefore, the United Kingdom should persist in it’s current form.

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Ignoring the irony of the above cartoon for the moment, I also have no issue with the above argument in theory. Again there it raises the practical question of whether it works in the real world. A real world where the evidence is that Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland don’t economically benefit from membership of the union. Wales is the poorest region in Northern Europe, whilst London the richest.

The theme I am trying to illustrate here is that everything seems to stop at these simplistic idealistic arguments, without any analysis of whether they work in the real world. The right seem to suggest that we should have as much centralisation as possible, provided that the central authority is democratic. That British Unionism is democratic (<cough> FPTP <cough>) and the European Unionism isn’t. The right seem to suggest that this subtle distinction should be blindingly obvious, when it really isn’t.

The argument seems to stop at these conclusions. I think this maybe simply idealism and entrenchment. The idealism of a national unity as a good thing coupled with the entrenchment of the UK as the ideal as it is the current union and in the UK media there has been relatively little acceptance of Welsh or European Identities. Such a view can be viewed as patriotic and is thus powerful and maybe why the argument stops there.

However it is hard to believe that understanding doesn’t go beyond this simple idealism in right-wing thought. I don’t believe that it is only the left that explores things more deeply or in practical terms. I would argue that these are simply campaign slogans and the actual analysis is somewhat different.

I think it comes down to core beliefs that people have that people have a reluctance to question. Perhaps the fundamental difference between the left and the right is a different interpretation of what equality means. To the left, equality is that every human being is of equal worth, to the right, there are good people and bad people, equality is providing everyone with an opportunity  to become good people. This is probably overly simplistic, but seems to me what all the crazy world of politics often boils down to. Both sides view the other side as naive as they do not share the same view of what equality is.

The problem I maybe have with right wing thought is who are these good people, it isn’t defined and so often it seems to mean ‘people like us’ or people who are comfortable in the prevailing capitalist model. So in Brexit and British Unionism, the good are the British establishment. It’s then a question of identity, so Brexit and British Unionism supporters do tend to be the same people and those who identify with the British establishment. The problem people like me and the left have with this is that this isn’t really about good people, it’s about people like us and a sense of privilege or entitlement that people like us are more deserving than other people. It is easy to think that when you are surrounded yourself with people like you. Yet, when you travel you realise that other people are no better or worse than ‘your people’.

The difficulty is that travel is expensive, or even just reading a newspaper that doesn’t talk to people like you or following a Social Media feed with views that don’t chime with your core beliefs is unsettling, it confuses us to see things that we know to be wrong written so brazenly. As human beings we derive comfort and roots from people like ourselves in our disturbing world, so we are naturally inclined to support ‘people like us’, but in doing so we can easily find ourselves carried along by the mob and not think through arguments calmly and objectively. Social Media often throws people from different bubbles together and often seems increasingly filled with flame wars and a lack of genuine discussion and debate.

It is difficult, viewing the world from the left or right gives a different view of the world and it’s a spectrum, so we all see it a little bit differently. It’s easier to understand a slightly different view to a radically different one. People on the left of politics understand each other as there share a common frame of reference, an unspoken worldview that doesn’t need explanation to gain understanding. I’m sure this is equally true of the right of politics. So perhaps it’s simply that we’re speaking two separate languages and using a common language to communicate, where common individual words mean different things makes understanding difficult. So when words like: freedom, democracy or equality come up and they mean different things, arguments are going to mean different things. Put thi sway it seems that to properly understand each other we have to work out really solid definitions of words that are mutually agreed. Indeed on these late night discussions I mentioned, a lot of the time was spent on definitions of things. 

So when we are not talking with friends but in the media, where language is manipulated we become further apart in our understanding. This doesn’t mean that we should stop trying.

Is the Welsh National Movement Racist?

Over the years I’ve encountered the objection to a consideration of independence for Wales because it’s “Welsh Nationalism” and Nationalism is a bad thing and inherently racist. I’ve never felt this to be a valid objection, however there is an element of truth in that it does present a risk of kindling a racist nationalism in Wales.

Racism is and isn’t a simple concept. Simply it’s a belief that one race is superior to another. However any objective thinking about that falls apart very quickly. No colour is superior. Very simply, we may prefer the colour Green to Blue, but there is no objective basis for stating that one colour is superior to another colour. Yet racism has persisted across human cultures through history. I would argue that racism is something else, it’s more about class and culture and a negative view towards those of a different class or culture. It’s actually quite a natural thing. I remember being a child surrounded by people from another culture and feeling a sense of fear and trepidation. This is just a fear of the unknown. It may simply be a deep-seated belief as human beings are tribal and there has always been a distrust of those from other tribes who may try to steal our land. This is complicated itself as when a lower class person in say Mexico has more in common with a lower class person in Wales than with a rich member of the ruling class in Wales, but this folk distrust of other tribes often doesn’t see that connection clearly.

There are perhaps four elements to racism:

1/ Patriotism

Patriotism can be defined simply as a love of your own country, your own culture, your people and a desire to defend that culture and promote it’s growth. Most people tend to value their own cultures as it roots them and helps form their identity and these are good positive things to have. I don’t think there is anything wrong with patriotism of itself. It’s simply that an appeal to patriotism can lead on to racism fairly easily.

2/ An Enemy

Once some other race, culture or class is identified as a threat to your own culture or simply blamed for problems within your culture, you have then generated a basis for racist thinking. It is arguable that this is quite natural and to some extent occurs in all cultures. We may have some grievances with the people in the next village as they got some shiny new facility and “we” didn’t get anything. This can be very low level and often not acted upon. So, we may still have friends in the next town and even go to their shiny new cinema or whatever it is. However adding two more elements can turn that low-level racism  we may all have to some extent, into something very ugly.

3/ Poverty

Poverty itself isn’t really an element, it perhaps comes into play when the local poverty rate increases rapidly and the cause of that comes from outside the local community. So if it’s caused by a natural disaster, people will generally dig in and try to restore things and not blame anyone else. However when that poverty is caused from an external cause, an increase in poverty can stimulate hated towards those identified (whether they are actually to blame or not) as causing the problem.

4/ Hope

This is the final element. Where racism occurs there is usually a leader or an ideology who comes along offering a message of hope. Hope can be an incredibly powerful force and can trump even deeply held ideas and break strong social bonds.

Perhaps the greatest example of mass racism in European history is the rise of Nazi Germany. The Great Depression of the 1920s into the 1930s left millions out of work across Europe and North America, so people were looking for anything that would offer them hope of a route out of poverty. So along come the Nazi party offering hope and promoting patriotism, which does explain why the vast majority of Germans supported Nazism, it made them feel good about being German and offered hope of an improving economic situation. However Nazism also identified enemies, the Jews, Romanies, Homosexuals and so on. Hence the Nazis had created all the four elements for arguably the worst racist atrocities humankind has known.

The question of whether the Welsh National Movement is racist or at risk of becoming racist is worthy of consideration, yet these issues have been explored at length within the movement and the risk is considered low. This is not to say that if you look for racism in Wales you will certainly find it, it does regrettably exist, but within the Welsh National Movement it seems to be tiny and not of significance. So how is this the case:

The Welsh National Movement is certainly patriotic, it wants Welsh culture to flourish, for the economy to improve and to abolish poverty from Wales, but patriotism itself isn’t a problem. There is an enemy, the British political establishment, but really this is the ‘our government is terrible and ignores our needs’ belief experienced across the globe. It gets accused of being “Anti-English” by those outside the movement, but within it there is no significant anti-English sentiment. Poverty certainly exists in Wales and the economy is declining and things like Covid-19 and it’s lockdowns have made this worse. I would argue the greatest motivation to support the Welsh National Movement is the needless poverty in Wales. Perhaps the difference is that poverty is the reason to support the movement as it’s not something that has come suddenly come along  and pushed people into racism. Every political group tends to offer an escape from poverty. The issue is whether an enemy is identified as the cause of the poverty that isn’t party political. It also offers hope of a better Wales, but a hope that this doesn’t have to be at anyone’s expense.

Technically, the elements for a racist nationalism to develop in Wales are certainly here. We are perhaps fortunate that there isn’t a leader of a movement promoting racism. Quite the opposite, the movements leadership is anti-racist and anti-fascist. An independent Wales that does not have these hatreds is the goal. Arguably there is a greater risk of racism developing in Wales from British Nationalist movements, such as the Brexiteers, as they have identified EU migrants as an enemy.

We live in a crisis of democracy, our governing institutions are in hoc with the global multinational corporations and local needs are ignored. This is true of Wales and everywhere else. Those of us who seek change that will offer a better life for the 99% of us that are not filthy rich are kept divided. It’s a great pity that it takes a few sentences to make the case for change for an independent Wales or whatever the solution is, whereas the other side, simply has to offer hope or ensure the opposition is divided.

The media seems to lack the space for full political discourse these days. Soundbites rule and questions go unanswered. Racism is often left unchallenged. Somebody may express their patriotism but may be shut down as a racist when that isn’t necessarily true from being patriotic. So racists simply make patriotic statements and are attacked before it is established whether they are racist or not, yet often they are, this is dangerous. There is a narrow line between patriotism and racism that we need to be aware of. For those of us who are not racist and enjoy exploring other cultures, it isn’t a problem, it is entirely clear to us where that line is. However for those not so keen on enjoying other cultures it may not be so clear where that line is. I think that too often that whilst we in the Welsh National Movement are clear that it isn’t racist, we forget that this may not be so clear to those who haven’t been through these arguments multiple times. Furthermore there is still some considerable ignorance about what racism is, especially in many parts of Wales that are are still predominantly white cultures.

 

 

 

 

The “Evil” Empire

PurpleBall

I had the pleasure of watching “The Purple Ball”, a 1986 fantasy film made in the Soviet Union a few days ago. Around the time the film was made I went on a trip to the CCCP with my school. The films date reminded me of that bizarre excursion and I am about the same age as the protagonist featured in the above picture.

I imagine that due to it being the period of Gorbachev, Glasnost and Peristroika that the Soviet Union wished to encourage school visits. I was 11 at the time and was told that this planned trip for the years above me had spaces and there was an opportunity to go to Russia and to me it seemed too good a chance to miss. I didn’t appreciate how strange such a trip was. A few years later a county musical ensemble I was in were offered a tour to Israel, but all the parents refused to let us go to Israel, so went to Sweden instead, but Soviet Russia? fine???

It is perhaps telling that there wasn’t such a huge enthusiasm for the trip from the other kids at my school, brought up as we were with the Cold War, fears of Nuclear Armageddon and the Western propaganda that Russia were “the Evil Empire” and the “Bad Guys”.

Yet, off we went! It was my first time flying, I was 12 by the time we went but I was probably too young to really understand what I was seeing. We were more interested in collecting the really cheap Soviet badges that we were constantly offered by street hawkers and the seemingly endless refrain:

“You want Paul McCartney record?”

“Niet, spaseba”.

This LP was not available in the “West” at the time. We did stand out a mile and must have been a magnet for every hawker in the city dressedas we were in bright primary colours. All the locals were in black or dark greys. We stood out for miles around!

The memories I do have are perhaps of interest:

The Moscow State Circus were amazing.

We went to a school disco, which was very strange as we had no Russian and the Russian school kids had no English, so we sadly didn’t speak to them at all. A large group of them were surrounding this laser disco light, that seemed entirely new to them, which was perhaps provided to make Soviet Russia seem more “modern” I don’t know.

We went to this shop that sold electronics that Soviet citizens were barred from, though quite why a bunch of young teenagers would want to buy big lumpy electronics designed for a different current level? I think the idea was to get Sterling out of us.

We were very naughty. We were supposed to change money into Roubles at a bank, but our teachers decided to take us out into the street and change money on the black market. Which was worth it! Instead of 1 Rouble to the Pound, the official rate at the time, we got 5 Roubles to the Pound. I imagine that those guys were making a very healthy profit on that as well! We even had to do it twice as there was another local school group with us and their teachers wouldn’t let them change money with guys on the street in Moscow.

Was this risky? Were the KGB watching our every move? Or were we just left alone for political reasons, who knows?

Food & Drink

We were even naughtier than that. We went to a shop and brought bottles of Vodka. 12 years old, no questions asked, which was pretty much the case in Wales too at the time! But surely a nightmare for our teachers having 12 year olds drinking vodka in their hotel rooms, especially when we weren’t eating very well as were were young and picky and struggling to like the Russian Food.

One night we seemed to be offered cat food by the hotel, some sort of meat in a thick jelly, just like in tins of cat food we thought, ych a fi! There was this wonderfully sweet tart we got for breakfast though which was heavenly.

Russian Lifts

Our hotel in Moscow was high rise, which was new to me, so there were the lifts. The doors of these lifts would only open for three seconds so we had to manually hold the doors to get more than one person in. I really hate lifts (mild claustrophobia). They were often full too. I think we were on the 27th floor but I was young enough to just run up the stairs without it being too much.

Travelling 1st class

After some days in Moscow we then took the night train to Leningrad (now St Petersburg again). We had a private cabin for me and my friend and I have never since travelled in such luxury on a train. The cabin was beautiful. It was a shame it was night as we didn’t get the see much of the Russian countryside, which coming from ta farming area was actually what I was more interested in seeing than the big cities.

So we arrived in Leningrad, which was very different to the cold concrete blocks of Moscow, and lots of very pretty pre-Soviet buildings. It was colder, snow on the ground and -10 degrees, but it didn’t feel that cold. I now had a furry Russian hat, but I think it was more the lack of humidity that made it seem warmer than Wales was.

Hotels

The St Petersburg Hotel was very posh, wonderfully clean comfortable rooms, however not so the toilets. They didn’t flush, no bucket to manually flush the pan and had no toilet paper. I remember exploring different floors of the hotel in search of a loo that had sheaves of old newspaper left on the string. Once I had to resort to a trip to the lobby to buy a copy of Pravda for such a use!

Shopping

We were taken to lots of tourist shops where we bought lots of cheap Soviet tat. Looking back, I wish I’d bought more as these days it probably has something of a cachet. We did buy reams of Soviet propaganda posters though as they were 2p each! Hopefully, they are still in reasonable condition in my dads attic somewhere!

Sadly most of the trip was very touristy, endless coach tours and the like, though the Space Centre was very cool. The Leningrad underground railway was stunning, every station was beautifully designed and only 5p to go anywhere in the city, if only London was like that!

Really I was too young to appreciate it all and we, as a school group were ferried around by our InTourist guide (who incidentally did extremely well from all the Roubles we were unable to spend or change back.

I still don’t do normal holidays, maybe because of this trip. Maybe it’s a desire to see strange different parts of the world and see how other people live, rather than sweat on a packed beach in Spain.

It was a place that can no longer be visited, the CCCP no longer exists. I could go back to Russia and see it all completely changed of course. Even though I hadn’t spoken with hardly any real Russians, I think it did leave me with a positive view of Russia, which was perhaps the aim, but as one of the kids who had signed up to go, I didn’t have a negative view of Russia.

I still live in a country with a negative view of Russia and still negative media propaganda about Russia, deservedly so to some extent but our government and that of the US are no Goodies by any means. Now though at’s all about Putin, rather than the Soviets. Generally, I feel the ordinary Russian people haven’t had the chance to really connect with Western Europe, there hasn’t really been a period in my lifetime when Russia has not been regarded as a political ‘enemy’ and I think that does influence peoples views of people. If a government is regarded as a bad guy then it’s people must be bad guys too, though this is a false connection as pretty much every government is terrible.

Really if we had just watched more Soviet films and less American films (which often do have a very pro-USA underlying message, <cough> Star Wars <cough> what was that about really? <cough> ‘the evil empire’? <cough>, there would may be less bias against our Russian comrades. The Purple Ball is ultimately a much more uplifting film than Star Wars in my view and it has dragons in! which of course, warms any Welshman’s heart.

Fans of the Invisible Man

Screenshot from 2018-01-28 20-38-00

Cardiff City away, I am somewhere in this crowd!

 

Last week it was announced that Manchester City Football Club are to be banned by UEFA from the Champions League and potentially relegated from the English Premier league for breaches of the Financial Fair Play rules. As a Blue I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this if it does occur.

For those that don’t know, City is currently owned by Sheikh Mansour of Abu Dhabi, who has pumped stupid amounts of money in the club with the aim of making City of Europe’s elite clubs and able to win the Champions League.

This period is or maybe now has been a surreal period in the clubs history. The club has been transformed from a crap but lovable under-achieving, mid-table “sleeping giant”, whom non-supporters had a soft spot for into an elite club with the best players in the world, playing sublime football and winning trophy after trophy  yet somehow managed to never do particularly well in the Champions League competition, whom non-supporters no longer like.

The modern era of top-flight football has been marked by money pouring in from outside the supporters, largely from telly money, and made attending games very expensive as the players receive stratospheric wages. It has meant that the only way for a club like Manchester City to break into the group of elite clubs that win things (the Liverpools, the Arsenals, the Tottenham Hotspurs of England and that team that play in Salford). Elite clubs that had made it into England’s elite by having huge international fan bases and hence have more income that the rest of the Premier League. Two English clubs broke this mould by becoming elite clubs by having foreign owners with dubious wealth buying the clubs and propelling them to success, Chelsea and Man City.

I have enjoyed watching the fantastic football and supporting a club winning trophies, it’s been brilliant. It’s what every football fan of a non-elite club wants to happen. Though secretly we kind of wanted it to be by sheer luck of having a brilliant manager and managed to get amazing players at bargain prices, proper ‘Roy of the Rovers’ stuff. However that isn’t how modern football works, it has become a game riven with money and money buys success.

On the other hand I do miss the old City. When we played at Maine Road, a grand old stadium that just fizzled and popped with atmosphere, where at the half time whistle you had time to get a pint, drink it, pop to the loo and be back in place before the second half kicked off. There were moments of hapless comedy where players took three touches before launching the ball into our own net, contrasted with moments of sublime football and the moments of sheer unadulterated joy of gaining promotion back to the Premier League.

It is an interesting question whether City fans prefer the new City with all it’s trophies and amazing football or the old City. We continue to sing the chant “We are not, we’re not really here, we are not, we’re not really here, like the fans of the invisible man, we’re not really here”, because there is still that sense of unreality about City being amongst England’s elite football clubs as somehow where we are now isn’t really City!

Yet things have changed, the atmosphere at Eastlands has never re-captured the atmosphere at Maine Road, but then huge modern stadia have come to lack atmosphere for regular matches across the Premier League and even in away ends the chanting is no longer constant. As fans we used to buy tickets and tat from the club shop to support the club, with millions coming in from away, there seems little point in financially supporting the club anymore. I kind of feel here for the ride rather than as a genuine football supporter anymore.

I think there has always been a sense at City that this period of success has been something of a freak event and that one day City would return from whence we came back to mid-table obscurity and hopes of getting an upset against Liverpool or the Trafford lot.

Whether this is an end of an era or not is not yet clear, however transitioning back to the old City is something that I still see as a question of when rather than if.

Twas Brexit Night

EU,-UK-and-Wales-flags

This evening, the 31st of January at 11pm, the UK officially left the EU. It is an odd evening, it’s quite quiet. Sure the extremists, the Brexiteers and Remainers will be celebrating or commiserating amongst themselves, but for most ordinary Britons it’s a much more complicated feeling. In my town, it feels like a typical Friday night. There are no flags being waved. It’s simply been the last day we are likely to see these three flags flying together for some time, if ever.

There is a sense of sadness as the great European project of comradeship across the continent that came from the end of the World wars of the twentieth century hasn’t worked well enough to bring a clear majority of Britons behind it, despite decades of negative press from the UKs far-right media barons.

There is also a sense of relief, that after five years of endless arguments that never reached a conclusion is now over, even if nothing was decided. and families and friends can begin the process of healing.

However, if you’re not a determined anti-EU activist, there is nothing to celebrate, at least not yet. As I’ve argued previously, Brexit wasn’t really about membership of the EU. Brexit has been more about a general discontent with modern politics and the economy. Ordinary people feel that life is getting harder, they have less money in their pockets and politicians seem ever further detached from their everyday concerns. The EU framed as part of the problem serving wealthy elites and big corporations and failed to address the concerns of ordinary people. The Brexit cry was for sovereignty, for democracy, to “Take Back Control”

Yet the great irony of Brexit is that those leading the charge to Brexit have put Boris Johnson’s Tories in charge for probably the next five years. A political grouping that believes in centralisation and supports big corporations and ignores the needs of ordinary people. How this UK government may move forward is disturbing to contemplate. Hence there is no cause to celebrate yet.

It is a great irony as if Brexit was for democracy, for accountability, then surely there would be cries for electoral reform, for greater devolution. Yet there has been little of that, at least from the Brexiteers, the advocates of Brexit.

It is odd that the Brexiteers are against centralisation of political power at an EU level but in favour of centralisation at a UK level. It seems it isn’t about a political creed of where power should lie but instead  from a Nationalism about the British state. It may simply be that this democratic argument has been lost amid the sheer weight of populist nationalist fervour whipped up by the Brexiteers.

It’s difficult to accept that this anti-centralisation, democratic argument is that widely held. It is known that the racists, the intolerant of diversity and British Nationalists have quite different motivations for Brexit. It is not known how the support for Brexit breaks down between these two and other groups. From the Remain side, there are calls for democracy, for Independence for Wales, for Scotland and political reunification of the island of Ireland. The way Brexit has unfolded makes this restoration of the nations of Britain more likely as Brexit is perhaps the last huzzah of British Nationalism?

The real issue now is the trade arrangements with the EU. Trade Deals are a giving up of sovereignty, potentially far greater than membership of the EU. Will the UK keep aligned with the EU or become the pawn of the USA and a subsequent huge shift in culture. Instead of unity, the divisions of the UK may continue for years to come. This is all on the basis if the UK survives the next five years in its present form at all.

So, there is just a sense of apprehension, uncertainty and fear.  A hope for unity whilst the loudest voices push for more division. Who will the Brexiteers now turn to to blame for the UKs woes, now rid of the EU bogeyman, for fear that ordinary people will notice that they are part of the problem. Yet there is a hope that radical change will come and the nations or former nations of the UK may return to consider closer cooperation with the rest of Europe. A hope that a light is left on the enable the nations of the UK to find the partnership it actually wants. For that is it essentially,  the UK is leaving the EU, primary to sort itself out, to deal with its own internal problems, despite the EU not being responsible for them and that process has barely begun. It leaves it vulnerable to wondering if it’s worth fighting for the Union or to reform itself into something new (I think it has to), to then be confident in itself be able to work out the relationship with the rest of Europe it wants.

It seems the nations of the UK have a lot to work out and lack the political apparatus to do that in the short-term. Whatever happens the relationship between the peoples of the Britain and mainland Europe will remain interesting, for the British nations remain European nations. The story of Britain’s romance with Europe has more chapters to run.

 

Leave A Light On

The Island

I Paradigm I

It’s an odd time to be a Briton. The UK will formally start the process leaving the EU next week. About half the people of Britain and Northern Ireland will lose something they have had since birth, EU citizenship. For some this will make them feel less European as a part of their identity is stripped away. It may present a paradigm shift.

A paradigm shift is a change to what is normal, a change in mode of thinking, adopting a new set of rules and identities. For example, going from being an anxious to a confident person completely changes one’s worldview. There seem to be rather a lot of these shifts occurring at the moment due to Climate Change and Brexit, to quite fundamental parts of whom we are as humans, what we eat and our identity.

Food

I have written recently about this whole debate between whether the most sustainable diet is plant-based or contain some quantity of meat. There are some visceral arguments flying around. Between the meat fraternity and vegans about which diet is more sustainable, which diet requires less land and is a sustainable management of that land. In my opinion the answer lies somewhere in the middle. However it seems that much of the argument is not based on the science, but rather the “naturalness” of the diet choice.

This “naturalness” concept is rather bizarre as there is very little that is natural about how humans produce food when you consider that humans developed as a species as hunter gatherers. However across the millenia agriculture has developed, allowing larger populations. This agriculture has undergone massive changes since the industrialisation period began some two hundred years ago. Keeping animals inside in a controlled environment feeding them a grown diet, injecting them with chemicals and an industrial process for slaughtering them, is much at odds with practices for the first few thousand years of agriculture.

It is because this form of agriculture has persisted for so long that it has been normalised. Our increasingly urbanised societies do not generally spare a thought for the lived conditions of the animals they eat every day. People who become vegans and vegetarians have thought about this and concluded that modern agriculture is very strange and not “natural” and often make a decision to either stop eating meat or change how they get their meats.

Arguably the debate between these two groups are the traditionalists (even if that tradition [intensive agriculture] is only around one hundred years old) and those that have gone through a paradigm shift in how they think about the rearing of animals for food. Hold that thought.

Identity

Brexit has divided the people of Britain quite fundamentally. Even those of us in the middle have been forced to take sides. The question was whether the UK is better of in or outside of the EU, but Brexit is something else, it is perhaps about differing views of national identity and what is a normal way of thinking about your national identity.

Generally there are those people that consider that the UK nation state is normal, to feel patriotic towards the UK and those that feel differently or are more pragmatic about it and open to different possibilities. This makes sense in the context that the Brexiteers are generally older and remember life before the EU and the Remainers aren’t.

The Brexiteers seem to regard a particular form of British Nationalism as sacrosanct, one which has parallels with the Imperialism and authoritarian nature of the British Empire period.

For example, there have been objections this week to the announcement of Gaelic becoming the default language of instruction in Schools in the Western Isles of Scotland. In Wales, Welsh medium schools have been in existence for quite some time, yet these are often objected to. I don’t get these objections as Welsh and Gaelic are native British languages, so as patriotic Britons do we not all want to maintain the tradition of these languages? It seems these Brexiteer British Nationalists do not view British culture in this way, that they only support certain facets of “Britishness” and not others. You have to be one of this sect to understand what they like and what they do not. These people seem to object to people using other languages than English in Britain, whether it’s Hindi, Polish, Welsh, Gaelic or anything else it seems. It seems to be part of this intolerance of different people.

There also those who object to people who are LGBTQ. Someone said recently that there are two sexes, men and women and this is basic biology. I am a Biologist and I said to her that that is very basic biology, the reality is a lot more complicated and indeed different sexualities exist in other mammalian species. Sex is in our genes and it’s just how biology works. Yet people seem unable to listen to expert advice nowadays. It seems feelings and identity trump science and as a scientist I find that hard to conceptualise.

I believe that the solution to the decline and malaise in the UK economy is to revitalise democracy re-building the economy with Welsh and Scottish independence, Irish re-unification and regional government within England. This just makes sense to me as the most sensible way to improve things. However there are many that object to this, yet they seem to be unable to articulate an argument for the union of the UK, beyond a denial that Wales can govern herself  and a sentimental attachment to the UK nation state. They seem to have not passed through any paradigm shifts.

Diversity Education

There seems to be a general trend in this division between those with a university education and those who don’t. I have even heard it said that universities encourage liberal thought to the detriment of conservatism. There is some truth in that.

A university education is essentially about challenging ideas and assumptions about how things work. It’s about learning how to build a logically sound argument and testing premises. So any traditional conservative values are tested and the only ones that survive are those that have a positive beneficial value and  reason to be conserved beyond sentimentality.

The university experience is also about exposure to diversity, where living with diversity is part of the life of people at universities. When someone goes to university for the first time, they usually live away from home in an area with a different culture. For me I went from a rural Welsh existence to living in a big city in another country; a huge culture shock! You then meet and work with people from different backgrounds, from different parts of the world and you just accept things that are different to what you knew. Through an undergraduate degree course you make multiple paradigm shifts in worldview and your understanding of your subject. Paradigm shifts become second nature.

However for those who do not go to university and never live in a different country, may not get this exposure to diversity or have their ideas so rigorously challenged. It may simply be a lack of training in the skill of coping with paradigm shifting.

Brexit

This Brexit division really has torn apart the paradigm of Britain. The Britain I love and grew up in consisted of people of different backgrounds and places whom for the most part got along doing our own things. I grew up in an area that produces people who are loosely defined as Welsh-British and that chimed perfectly with my identity and as such my identity was of as much value as the identity of any other Briton. However Brexit has blown apart that tolerance of all the huge variance in the people of Britain, there now seems an increasing divide between a narrow British nationalism of arguably the largest minority ethnic group in the UK, the White English and everybody else. The White English, may in actuality be a majority of the UK population, however when you take away those that went to university, the LGBT community and those who married outside of their ethnicity for example, you do perhaps end up with a minority, yet one which has acquired power through Brexit and now seems to feel legitimised and emboldened by Brexit that they don’t need to listen to any voices of dissent and are at liberty to abuse people who are different.

This I find disturbing as Britain  seems to be have become in the control of an insular sect which ignores experts at a time when new modes of thinking and a new economic relationship are kind of required by Brexit and even more so by Climate Change. Britain leaving the EU doesn’t really bother me all that much in itself, but ceding control to people who lack experience of paradigm shifts when the nation state is going through a paradigm shift is worrying indeed.

I just feel that the direction of the UK becoming a less tolerant society is one I do not feel part of anymore. Hence I am Yes Cymru.

I Palindrome I