The Judge RANTS!
National Irrelevance Day
The Edinburgh-based mapping company XYZ Maps was recently given what appears to have been a rather odd commission by a company in Germany. It was to produce a map illustrating what Europe would look like after 'Brexit', but with Scotland depicted as a continuing and independent member of the EU.
Now - for reasons best known to themselves, although they may simply have been aligning themselves with Gandhi's dictum that a country which wishes itself to be free must behave as if it already were - XYZ have already produced one or two maps showing the same scenario. Here's part of one:
This was beguiling stuff, but my eye was then caught by the following detail:
Leaving aside the fact that such a designation is as ponderous, cumbersome, nit-picking and anally-retentive as the putative state it describes, and the fact that you can't have a united Kingdom when there is only one kingdom involved anymore, my enchantment at the overall concept of the map turned to feelings of despair.
Why? Well, look at it. Is that all that my nation - one which was identifiably a nation before England was ever invented - aspires to being now? A mere appendage of an unsympathetic, unempathetic and overbearing neighbour yn oes oesoedd, Amen?
Well, to be brutally honest, yes it does. That does appear to be the limit of the ambitions set for what little is left of our identity after seven-hundred-odd years of occupation, assimilation, colonisation and relentless overt and covert propaganda.
I think back nearly forty years, to the time that I was as fiery as I was ever going to get. The battles for the granting ('granting', if you please! That should give you some idea of the mindset involved on both sides) of even a touch more than token courtesy to the language were still being fought. We had some of the road signs and a few schools, and sometimes the Welsh (sic) Office even deigned to communicate in Cymraeg with those of its funders who were so wilful to communicate with it in the language. But the television channel was still to be won, the patronising arrogance of public bodies of all sorts and at all levels - government, councils, our (allegedly) universities and colleges - had yet to be shamed into some degree of accomodation, and the buying up of house after house in village after village by Good Life fantasists, rapacious absentee landlords and retiring colonels and other remnants of the Raj continued unameliorated.
Back then and before then, however, we had individuals and groups of people who had the personal and collective integrity and courage to put themselves on the line for these matters, even at considerable personal risk. Whether or not you agreed with the method employed - be it the somewhat na´ve if self-sacrificing pacifism of Gwynfor Evans, the equally determined non-violent direct action of Cymdeithas Yr Iaith, or the more direct approach of Emyr Llewelyn, John Jenkins and the Abergele Martyrs - it can't be gainsaid by any reasonable observer that there was a radical activism which was determined to ensure the continuation of our distinct identity.
And now? Now, I am driven to rage.
We have become a land of the soporose, if not the comatose; drugged (often literally, especially in the case of the young people upon whom radical action usually depends in any society) into a dozy insensibility whereby all the ills of our land are allowed to fester because it is deemed that Nothing Can Be Done, the power to change things for the better lies elsewhere and we have no influence over it. Nor in such a world-view should we, because those who determine our future - be they Brit bureaucrats in London, their equivalents in Brussels, or the CEOs of corporations in New York, Mumbai or Shanghai - are much wiser people than we are. The inferiority complex of an occupied people is - more than ever in my lifetime - something akin to a national sport. That we may be deemed "too smaaaall, too weeeak, too stew-ped" by others is one thing; to believe such things of ourselves ourselves indicates a collective psychosis out of which no amount of self-medication on smack, skunk, spice, sport or even Brains SA can deliver us.
And so the nation (granting for the sake of argument that it can even be called that without inverted commas anymore) tosses fitfully in a sleep of sullen resignation while its home falls down around it or is bought out from under it, and those gallant few who try to rouse it from its torpor gradually give up the unequal struggle and go off and do something more productive with their lives instead, like teaching geography in Dunstable.
That our economy is shafted every which way by those directing policy on it, whose decisions are always based either on 'the boddom line' or determined by greater regard for the supposed needs of London and its outer ring of dormitories; that our cultural identity (in both languages) is being swamped by the lowest common denominator sewage from Hollywood and Hampstead; that our very communities are vanishing because there is either no work or nowhere for young people - especially young families - to live because the properties have all been bought by outsiders; that - following on from that - we are being, have been, Latvianised (*), as not only our coastal areas in the north and west but also, now, far into the hinterlands thereabouts, have been - provocatively and deliberately to use the term - occupied by commuter-polluters from the cities of the western half of England, or by grannies dumped at the seaside by their families to be an unproductive burden on our care infrastructure, or by criminals, inadequates and 'problem families' (or, to use a more precise term, 'someone else's problem families', or (as in the case of much of Powys today) racists fleeing the awful possibility that - in Castle Bromwich or Coventry - they might have to live on the same street as someone of a different skin colour from their own. That all this is happening and is, if anything, accelerating, cannot be allowed to disturb the slumbers of a native population which has allowed itself to be anaesthetised by years of Great British This and Great British That into believing that all is for the best and the sleeping dogs must be left to lie, and the running dogs (thank you, Comrade Chairman) must be allowed to run feral through the streets, biting the faces off babies and shitting on doorsteps.
I compare and contrast the political landscape here with that seen not far to the north of us. In the last five years in Scotland, there has been an explosion of political action and discussion at all levels in society, not just amongst those never-to-be-sufficiently-cursed 'Úlites'. The future direction of that land is now the main point of discussion, with the growing realisation that all other areas of public policy are being - and will be - determined by the outcome of that journey. Its Parliament - hamstrung as it is - goes from strength to strength in terms of its determination to serve its land and the respect it is earning from the sovereign people of that country. Its current First Minister is regarded - even by most of her opponents, if they were being honest - as one of the foremost statespersons of Europe. Scotland - despite the setback of September 2014 - is a country on the march towards a better future and to the safeguarding of civilised social and economic values on this island, all the more so since the result of That Fucking Referendum last summer.
And us? We have a pretendy parliament which we are not even 'permitted' (that word, eh?) to call a 'Parliament' in case we get Ideas. It has had a permanent Labour government (mildly ameliorated by an occasional coalition) since its inception, and its current First Minister would be better suited to middle management in a biscuit factory. He is surrounded by ministers of similarly unknown personality, most of whom would have struggled in days gone by to be elected to a borough council in a thin year. Being Labour, of course, means that Cardiff and the Fabled Valleys get the lion's share of attention and cash and the rest of us - especially in the north east - get recognised as existing occasionally, but only in the most glancing sense, and only then in attempts to cajole us into a forced marriage with Cheshire, the Wirral or Greater Brum. For here, as in Scotland, Labour is a Unionist party rather than a progressive one.
The opposition? The Tories are, as they are everywhere else, insistent on the efficacy of 'shrinking the state' by handing large chunks of it over to their friends; the sole Liberal Democrat allowed herself to be bought by minsterial office; the Kippers are a new and malign presence, including as they do a man rejected as being too right-wing even for north Kent and that famous envelope-stuffer Mostyn Neil Hamilton. And the so-called 'Party Of Wales'? A party which fits Dennis Potter's scathing description of the LibDems of twenty-five years ago, in that it "loves to tickle, but is afraid to wound". Having spent thirty years sedulously avoiding any undue use of the word 'independence' ('undue' meaning here 'that which might garner criticism from our opponents and their media chums'), they now seem to be willing to let the term fall from their lips in public.
But it's too late. Because - due to our not therefore having a genuine and robust nationalist party - when people last June (and in the elections for the Diddycouncil a few weeks before) felt that they had to kick the perceived 'Úlites' who had ignored their concerns, they turned in their tens of thousands - yea, even in those Fabled Valleys - to a bunch of golf-club Phalangists from Kent and Wiltshire and their xenophobic obsessions. The result being that, unlike Scotland where there was an overwhelming vote to remain in the EU, the inhabitants of Wales - colonialist and colonised alike - matched England's result percentage point for percentage point. The inevitable consequence being that this 'nation' voted itself into irrelevance with no mandate possible for resisting the dragging of this 'nation' out of its proper (and, let it be said, remunerative) relationship with the rest of the continent. Those of us of both nationalist and internationalist bent (and, the ridiculous utterances of the Mayor of London in the last few days notwithstanding, it is perfectly possible to be both) have therefore been left utterly defenceless.
(In this respect, the skelping at Murrayfield last Saturday was, perhaps, a perfect example of sport-as-political-metaphor).
In not only allowing almost total control over our land to outsiders and their proxies within our borders, but in refusing to do anything to get any of that control back, we have to all intents and purposes ceased to be a nation. Hell, I'm not sure that we can even be described as a province now, either; merely an unusually rugged garden suburb of Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham and Bristol. There's no pride (apart from the 'pride' of the six-days-a-year 'patriots' at the 'Principality' Stadium; a pride which is as permanent as the flags they paint on their stupid, eager faces), there's no passion (except for kneeing ourselves in the groin, witness the goings on in Llangennech of late), and there's no fire (not even holiday homes, for the incineration of). There's just the fakery equivalent to the tannoy announcements in Sainsbury's last Sunday wishing us a "Happy St. David's Day!" as a mechanism for selling us more dried fruit.
I am now resigned to the fact that, having been born in a colony, and lived all my life in a colony, I am going to die in a colony. Same one, too.
So I hope you'll excuse me if tomorrow I do not wear either a daffodil or a leek, nor paint my face in a tricolour woad, or go about suddenly being 'proud' about what now passes for my 'nation' as if such 'pride' is something that you get out of the box once a year like Christmas tree lights (and find, similarly, that half the bulbs have fused and the cat has pissed on the plug). When the people of this beautiful but scarred land decide that, yes, they are a nation, and that that nation, its culture, its values, is worth fighting for, and that the time has come for an end to all the querulous, forelock-tugging and tiara-worshipping servility and the emetic willingness to tie themselves to the mephitic remains of an empire sinking into a sewer of snarling hate, then I may have cause to be proud. My 'nation' may not have much self-respect left, but I'd like to think that I do.
* When Latvia was handed over to the Soviet Empire by the Molotov-von Ribbentrop Pact, Uncle Joe deported tens of thousands of Latvians to other parts of Greater Russia, and moved a similar number of ethnic Russians in to take their place. When Latvia regained its freedom many decades later, it found itself with a sizeable Russian minority who were full of a sense of entitlement and who regarded it as being beneath their dignity to even think of assimilating. The Latvian nation has had to waste inordinate amounts of effort and money on dealing with this colonial artefact ever since.