Saturday, 24 October 2009

I want to change the world, I'm looking for a new England

by Luke James
Cymru X Vice-Chair

I was speaking to a Labour student on Friday in the wake of Nazi Nick Griffin’s appearance on BBC’s Question Time.

Although a short conversation I think I was somewhat enlightened as to why the racist BNP are now winning national elections and consequently appearing on QT.

I dared to suggest that I thought Griffin had a point when he asked why the option to state your nationality as ‘English’ was not on the census.

To which the response was ‘all nationalism is sh*t’.

I’m not for one minute going to be taken in by Nick Griffin or the BNP and their attempts to dress race based discrimination up as ‘standing up for the silent majority.’

I know and you know that man will say anything for votes; I shudder at the thought of such a vile individual and party gaining any further ground.

However it does seem that the mainstream English/British parties’ refusal to accept an English identity and hold their own national conversation is playing straight into the hands of the far right.

At the Plaid Cymru conference in Llandudno members of Cymru X were present at the Undeb (English:Union) fringe meeting to hear Mark Perryman speak about his efforts to form an inclusive, left leaning English national identity.

Perryman is a serial contributor to the Guardian: Comment is Free and this piece outlines his vision for a better England.

Imagined Nation: One of Mark Perrymans books.

It struck me that Perryman was so frustrated in his efforts, being hit by the brick wall of the British parties on one side who want to sweep England under the carpet and the far right hijacking English identity on the other.

And this Labour student’s response was just typical of the attitude of the British parties.

Identity is important to us all, whether that be we are a supporter of a football team, a Royal Mail worker or English.

What nationalism does is bring all these identities under a national community, as I have mentioned before Plaid’s vision of Wales is a diverse community of communities.

If the London parties refuse to wake up and accept English people want to be recognised as such and not under a false British identity then maybe we will see the civil war Nick Griffin is so eager for.

England is in such an early stage of its national development, Wales as Perryman admits is the envy of many English men and women of all religions and origins.

We have much work to do in Wales building our national future and contribution to the world and humanity, but our English friends can rest assured Cymru X and Plaid Cymru will always have time to guide you on your course too.

"Take down the Union Jack, it clashes with the sunset" - Billy Bragg

Free England!

1 comment:

Pelagius said...

Some good points here. Well worth developing. I think the problem too many English people have is British nationalism, racist or not. I think it is true and relevant that the British were never 'de-imperialised': like the Germans, Japanese, etc were 'de-whatevered'. You see evidence of this all the time. Strong antipathetic views of Wales, especially of the language, anti-Welsh jokes, etc. Arrogant monolingualism. Bizarre anti-Europeanism. The constant craving for Great Power status: a dated 19th century idea.

Your Labour student's "all nationalism is sh*t", I'll bet, assumes most or all the above as givens. I think it is worth recalling that the current linguistic use of that word as a term of political abuse was by British imperialists who labelled Indian, Irish, Caribbean and African independence movements as "nationalist" 'cause they wanted to split from the Empire. That use is, of course, continued by Labour unionists today.

We need to develop a stronger Welsh nationalist narrative in this debate and not merely follow the hesitant steps some British / English people may be taking. We set our own course and pace.