Wednesday, 1 July 2009

"There's no such thing as a black Welshman"

The Western Mail last week picked up on BNP leader (and now MEP) Nick Griffin being quoted as saying "There is no such thing as a black Welshman. You can have a black Briton; you can’t have a black Welshman. Welsh is about people who live in Wales since the end of the last ice age.” It's clear from the elections that made Griffin an MEP that the anti-fascist strategy needs to be reconsidered, but although his comments will be ridiculous to anyone who lives in Wales we shouldn't go in for the whole let's laugh at the BNP attitude. Though their voter base in Wales is small and they are the seventh party here, we cannot ignore that their vote is growing. Internationalists in Wales should work on the premise that seventh place is too high.

But while that debate should be had, it is worth remembering these kinds of comments so that we can try and understand the world view that the BNP's leading opinion formers have. People don't vote for the BNP because they think black people can't be Welsh, or because they support the BNP's Nazi origins. They vote for the BNP for other reasons which we need to deal with. Alerting people to what the BNP really stands for is the first step towards breaking those illusions.

Of course, all the other political parties in Wales are opposed to the BNP and will have a role to play, but it can be argued that Plaid has the most specific purpose in countering them. This is because the existence of an anti-racist and multi-cultural Welsh nationalism is the biggest obstacle to British nationalism. It's no coincidence that the BNP's Welsh fringe (ironically with its most prominent figures being immigrants to Wales themselves) have adopted Wales-oriented imagery and the cross of St. David as their logo. Plaid is a constitent feature of their internet discussions. A recent blog proclaimed that "from now on Plaid are our number one target". A badge of honour for our movement.


Anonymous said...

Agree with the sentiments totally, of course. But as a Welsh nationalist I have this problem. The media, commentariat, Labour, the Church of England and the British Left have given huge, undeserved publicity to British fascism. All for different reasons. Some misguided Plaid people did that too. I think it promoted the nutters above their minimalist level.

The proper response in Wales is to promote our civic, inclusive nationalism. That means constant campaigning by Plaid on policies that matter to people.

And it also means attacking and exposing all forms of British nationalism whether in UKIP, New Labour, etc. Their common anti-Europeanism is very much part of that. By narrowing the argument to its fascist wing, you let off the very history, culture and present policies in which their fascism can so easily grow.

Illtyd Luke said...

Agree with Anon.

I do think the blog post is in line with what you are saying.

This is where the 'Britishness' agenda is particularly damaging. Gordon Brown and sections of the Labour Party have deliberately set out to promote the idea of 'Britishness', from policy slogans and military parades right down to culture and on tv.

It isn't that relevant a slogan to places like Wales, even industrial South Wales, where national identity is a much more complex and convoluted issue.

Unfortunately it helps create the cultural psyche for British nationalism to grow, as if the socio-economic conditions weren't already bad enough.

See 'British Jobs for British Workers'. Trying to adopt the language of the BNP and trying to "Out-British" them plays into their hands, as well as the hands of UKIP.

It also doesn't help when one of Searchlight's main anti-BNP petitions was headed up by Gordon Brown, who misguidedly extolled the Britishness agenda to try and stop Scottish (and dare I say it Welsh) nationalism.