Is being British a matter of nationality?

I've waited a few days before commenting on the report entitled This Sceptred Isle by British Future, which came out on Monday, because I wanted to see the full polling data. This, for some questions at least, is now available here on the YouGov site.

The thing that struck me was the way that this report was headlined. For example the Western Mail said:

     England and Scotland "could learn" from Wales about national identity

As it happens, the poll didn't ask any questions about national identity. The actual questions asked were:

Would you say you see yourself as ...
... English/Scottish/Welsh/None of these?

and

And which, if any, of the following best describes how you see yourself?
... Welsh not British/More Welsh than British/Equally Welsh and ... etc, etc.

I don't want in any way to dispute the figures in the YouGov survey. 37% of those in Wales who identified themselves as Welsh (or who did not identify themselves as Welsh, English or Scottish) said they saw themselves as "equally Welsh and British", and that's fair enough.

My point is about the conclusion to be drawn from this figure. To illustrate what I mean I would like people to consider what conclusion we would draw from a poll in Denmark in which 37% said that they saw themselves as "equally Danish and Scandinavian" or a poll in the Netherlands in which 37% saw themselves as "equally Dutch and European". It seems clear to me that Danes who answered in that way would certainly not be saying that they consider their nationality to be Scandinavian.

Yet from the headline David Williamson chose for his article in the Western Mail it seems clear that he has interpreted the finding as being about nationality; YouGov themselves refer to this poll on their website as "Nationality Perceptions"; and it is clear that the people behind British Future have been very quick to interpret this as a statement specifically about national identity rather than about identity in general.

I'm not particularly blaming anyone for this—least of all David, who is a thoroughly decent guy—but I am saying that this unspoken assumption needs to be challenged. I would suggest that it is not so very different from the unspoken assumption that being English and British are one and the same thing. That's what many people used to think, particularly in England, and it is still a fairly common assumption in most of the world. We can be glad that this perception has started to shift, and I think that our perception of what Britishness means needs to shift in a similar sort of way.

-

I fully accept that there are many nationalists for whom "Welsh not British" is a core conviction. In terms of nationality I fully agree ... but only in terms of nationality. I believe that the nations of Britain have plenty of things which we share and can celebrate, and for that reason I won't object to being called British any more than a Dane would object to being called Scandinavian or a Jamaican would object to being called Caribbean.

As we are seeing in the debate about Scotland, independence will not destroy the things which the nations of Britain have in common any more than Norway gaining its independence from Sweden, or Iceland gaining its independence from Denmark, have destroyed the common social, cultural, historic and economic ties between the Scandinavian nations.

Until someone digs a ditch and tows the rest of this island off into the middle of the North Sea, Wales will remain British and we can be proud to be British ... although I hope we will balance that with a proportionate sense of shame for what Britain has got wrong. But it is a mistake to jump to the conclusion that this must mean remaining part of the United Kingdom.

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52 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good thought,and one I agree with. The interesting problem that your last sentence throws up is this; if having some sort of british identity isn't necessarily reason to remain part of the UK (i.e I assume that even if 90% of the welsh saw self-identified as British, you would still call for welsh independence), why is having some sort of welsh identity reason enough to create a welsh state? The argument you're making seems to be one that decouples identity from nationhood, which is an interesting step to make.

Alun Evans said...

being British is a matter of geography, not identity.

The Welsh have more claim to be "British" than anyone else - we were here first, before the Angles and Saxons and Gaels . We are the Britons whom Bede and Gerald speak of as fighting the Saxon foe etc.

The reason some modern Welsh nats dislike the term is because it doesn't mean "person born on the island of Britain" anymore. It is almost always accompanied by a Union Jack, or English Crown symbol, and has overtones of Victoriana, colonialsm. They'd rather be "Welsh" rather than "British" to disassociate themselves from that. (Rather than trying to reclaim the term Briton, they are ditching it as a tainted term).

I guess if the term British went back to meaning "person born in Britain" rather than "subject of the Crown" then it would be different - oh, and if it was accompanied by a new federal flag or something. Lots of Welsh people simple won't, can't accept the Union Jack as being a "symbol of Britain".

Anonymous said...

I agree with you, MH. I am Welsh by nationality but it would be foolish to suggest that I have don't share many aspects of culture with England, Scotland and Ireland.

Also it's a shame that we don't make more of our native Brythonic past in marketing our country. In the past we've tried to pass ourselves off as some sort of second-rate Ireland/Scotland, rather than playing up the stories such as Branwen/Culhwch ac Olwen or our Roman past. Where is the statue of Macsen Wledig, founding father of several medieval Welsh kingdoms?

Come to think of it, how many non-Welsh speaking people in Wales are even aware of this past?

Siônnyn said...

Timely thoughts on what being British means, on a day the Queen of England visits Wales, with all the attendant 'Rule Britannia' British nationalism, and sickening union jack waving hysteria.

You are right to point out that the revulsion many of us feel at the idea on British identity is its conflation - one that persists in the Anglo Saxon mind and the London media - of Britishness with Englishness. The Scots recognise this, and use Andy Murray as an example of a man labelled as British when he is winning, and Scottish when he is losing. They even have a meter of how he is doing in the media HERE.

As the English slowluy regain their own identity, and we move to further political devolution (an eventual independence) perhaps we can indeed reclaim British as the geographic term that it really is.

glynbeddau said...

"Come to think of it, how many non-Welsh speaking people in Wales are even aware of this past?"

Well me for one

And for my part I regard myself as being British in the same way a Glaswegian would regard themselves as being Scandinavian.

MH said...

Thanks for the comments, it looks like I'll need to do some explaining.

To Anon 09:40. No, I'm definitely not saying we need to decouple identity from nationhood. In fact I think exactly the opposite: that being a nation—or at an individual level, being part of a nation—is primarily a matter of identity.

All of us identify ourselves in a range of ways. Someone could, for example, identify themselves as living on the Gurnos, in Merthyr, in the Valleys, in south Wales, in Wales, in Britain, in the UK, in the EU, in Europe and in the northern hemisphere. Many people will skip some of those, but I'm sure most of us will use three or four of them, and which we use at any time will depend on context. You wouldn't normally identify yourself as from the Gurnos if you were talking to a New Zealander, but talking about northern hemisphere rugby makes perfect sense. If you were talking to someone in Cardiff, then identifying yourself as from the Valleys makes sense in a way that talking about yourself as coming from south Wales wouldn't; but if you were talking to someone from Caernarfon, you'd probably identify yourself as from south Wales.

The question I'm posing is not what these ways of identifying ourselves are, but what we mean when we use them, and about what assumptions we make about what others mean when they use them.

To take an example, what does Wales or being Welsh mean? When I use these terms, I am talking about a nation and my nationality; but it would be wrong of me to assume that everyone else means the same thing when they use them. There are plenty of people in Wales who are proud to be Welsh, but would not consider being Welsh as a matter of nationality. They would see Wales as just a region of Britain or the UK, and use those terms to describe their nationality. To them, being a proud Welshman is no different from being a proud Yorkshireman.

But if it is a mistake to always assume that identifying yourself as Welsh is a statement of nationality, it is equally wrong to always assume that identifying yourself as British is a statement of nationality. That is the point I was trying to make.

Continued in next comment ...

MH said...

Continued from last comment

Now in practical terms, I have a very specific reason for doing this. A few years ago I thought that whether Wales became independent or not would largely depend on more and more people in Wales coming to see themselves as "Welsh, not British". I haven't changed my mind about that, but I have had to think hard about what it means.

As I said a couple of paragraphs ago, I was using the word Welsh as a description of nationality, but I was therefore also using the word British in that sense. In other words, I was reinforcing the idea that being British was a description of nationality.

As Welsh nationalists, we have to face up to the fact that a good number of people in Wales see themselves as Welsh and British, and that they're not going to change their minds about something that is a deeply rooted part of their identity. So the key to winning these people over is not to challenge their sense of Britishness; instead we should accept it, work with it, but get people to see the difference between being British in social and cultural terms and being British as a statement of nationality.

This is an uphill task, because most of the media unrelentingly use the word British as a description of nationality. But then, not so long ago, the same media used to talk about "the country" or "the nation" in a way that make it very difficult to know whether they were talking about Wales or the UK. They still do, particularly in England, but they do it a lot less than they used to. So things can change.

To illustrate what the change will mean, we just have to imagine what will happen when Scotland becomes independent. We will not suddenly have to stop using the word British, and I cringe when I hear some people say that Britain will cease to exist. Britain will still exist, and it will exist in more than just a geographical sense. The word British will be used—by Scots, just as much as by everyone else—as a description not just of geography, but of shared social, cultural, historic and economic ties across this island ... but it will clearly have ceased to be a description of nationality. I want us to see that distinction now, rather than later.

MH said...

To Alun. As I said to Anon 9:40, I think that we need to accept that being British is more than a just a matter of geography. I don't think there is anything wrong with having a British identity alongside all our other identities, it is a matter of what we mean by it. My point is that seeing yourself as British does not have to mean you think of your nationality as British. There is a difference between identity and national identity.

I am deeply disturbed by the rest of what you wrote. I have little interest in defining who we are according to groups that existed centuries ago, and even less interest in anyone saying "we were here first". The people that were "here first" died a very long time ago, and what we are now is a mongrel mix of peoples from all over Europe, if not the world.

I'm not even comfortable with the idea of defining things by birth. Nearly every country in the world will have citizens who were born somewhere else and will have mechanisms by which people who may not have had any previous connexion with that country can become citizens. Everyone who becomes a citizen of a country is then equal as a citizen. Nationality has nothing to do with whether their ancestors have lived there for a few thousand years or whether they became a citizen only a few days ago.

Welsh Ramblings said...

How about not only challenging the conceptions of Britishness but also unionism? In a number of contexts i'm a unionist- i'm a member of a trade union, for example. If I ever lived and worked in Ireland and participated in democracy there i'd be a unionist, rather than advocating two separate states on the island. I'm still a unionist when it comes to Europe, though I have concerns about the current project, the dominance of a select few states, and the viability and purpose of the single currency.

I'd like some kind of union between the nations existing on this island. It makes sense, if there is to be an open border, for there to be a currency and monetary union between Wales, England and Scotland, as the SNP now openly supports.

But unions should be partnerships of equals and democracy should be hardwired into them, whether we're talking about the European Union or the British state. I am against a united nation existing on this island, but would not be against a union of equal sovereign nations. Looking at the concrete facts and trade relations, membership of such a union is vastly more important to Wales than EU membership (even though that would happen by default).

I'm aware that even this kind of union would be a step too far for those that we call "unionists" in this debate. But if it could ever be expressed properly my opinion is that it would be the most popular constitutional choice in Wales.

Aled G J said...

MH- At a time when we are about to face a deluge of manufactured Britishness by means of the Olympics and the Queen's jubilee,I very much doubt whether this is the time, nor indeed is there a wider need for nationalists to try and define a more "positive" British identity.

I accept your point about a possible Scandinavian model for the Island of Britain in future- but that is way down the line. Right now, nationalists need to be focusing entirely on attacking Britishness all we can as something which is completely inimical to Welshness and to Wales's future as a nation.

Fortunately, we have common allies in this respect in Scotland. And once this year's circus is over, I believe England will also seek to disassociate themselves from Britishness as they redefine their own national identity- partly in response to what is likely to be a two year independence campaign in Scotland. It really isn't all that impossible to imagine concurrent independence campaigns in the 3 countries over the next few years.

Under such circumstances, I don't think we need to worry unduly about placating those who say at present that they see themselves as equally Welsh and British as events will make it an increasingly redundant concept.

Neilyn said...

MH,

I entirely agree with the idea of British as a comparable entity to Scandinavian, but I also agree with those who say that we should not lose sight of our Brythonic heritage. Conventional linguistic wisdom categorises Welsh as a daughter of the older British language spoken before and during the Roman occupation, fair enough, but the Elizabethan legislation that required the Bible to be translated into the language of Wales makes explicit reference to the 'Welsh or British language', and that version of the language is Late Modern Welsh! Cymraeg is rarely, if ever, called British today, but it doesn't mean it would be wrong to do so.

The past, all of it, good and bad, can not, should not be denied simply because it may make some people feel uncomfortable. I agree wholeheartedly that 'the past' must never be used to exclude those born elsewhere or born to parents of different ethnic or national heritage, but we must not, for want of a better word, abandon our heritage or history. That's precisely what we've been told we must do for far too long, and in case there's any misunderstanding here, by heritage I do not mean race/ethnicity!

Anonymous said...

"and what we are now is a mongrel mix of peoples from all over Europe, if not the world"

Believe it or not, Wales is one of the most ethnically homogeneous countries in the world, comparable with Japan and Ireland. (Not that I think it should matter).

http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/interactive/2011/may/19/ethnic-breakdown-england-wales

http://mbe.oxfordjournals.org/content/22/10/1964/T1.expansion

http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/tm_headline=-most-of-the-gene-pool-of-the-british-isles-is-very-ancient--it-has-nothing-to-do-with-celts-or-anglo-saxons--------&method=full&objectid=18479183&siteid=50082-name_page.html

Anonymous said...

Britishness is not comparable to Scandinavian MH. Britishness is a con for us Welsh. It means demoting our national aspirations, language, culture for an extention of Englishness. Fighting stupid wars for every 'land except our bloody own'.

Scandinavianness does not mean demoting the various languages to a greater Denmark or Sweden (or it doesn't since Norway and Iceland and gained indepdendence, and almost indepdendence for the Faroe Islands).

The nearest analogy with 'Britishness' and 'Scandinavian is the situation between the dominant Denmark and Danish lanaguage before Iceland, Norway and increasigly Greenland and the FI became indepdenent.

I know what your getting at MH but sorry, accepting 'Britishness' means accepting the Wales and the Welsh language is secondary and should know its place.

Britishness is a con. All our national humiliations are done in the name of Britishness, unity, class unity, 'stronger together'.

M.

Anonymous said...

MH - Whilst I agree that it is possible for someone to identify themselves as both Welsh and British in the same way as a Dane might identify themselves as both Danish and Scandinavian, or even in the way that a Yorkshireman might describe himself as both a Yorkshireman and English/British, the vast majority of those who currently identify themselves as both Welsh and British regard this as a kind of dual nationality - and I don't think that's likely to change in the forseeable future. I think the most significant aspect to this survey from a Welsh nationalist perspective is the small number of people in Wales who regard their nationality as solely Welsh - and indeed the very significant number (36%) who do not consider themselves Welsh at all.

Cibwr said...

British identity is not going to vanish - I think Alex Salmond is right about replacing the British political union with a new social union - it recognises the diversity of identity that exists while giving room for each nation to have political independence

A Change of Personnel said...

not sure i agree, the big difference between British and Scandinavian is that Danes, Swedish, Finns, Norwegians etc have never been one legal entity/country called Scandinavia (Kingdom of Denmark yes) in the way the Welsh, English, Scots and Irish are British.

Few, if any from my experience object to being called Scandinavian in the same way that some people in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland object to being called British.

From a Welsh nationalist point of view surely the best repost to the British Futures report is to set a similar Welsh think tank and start reporting and polling of you own.

Anonymous said...

Cibwr - I think problem with realising the goal of each nation having a political independence is that for a majority of people in Wales (and the rest of the UK)the UK is a 'nation', or perhaps a 'nation of nations'. When viewed from this perspective, political independence for 'each nation' makes no sense.

MH said...

Aled, I don't agree with "attacking Britishness" because that means attacking the people in Wales who identify themselves as British. How are we ever going to win people over to the idea of independence by attacking them?

Neilyn, I agree that we shouldn't abandon our heritage or history, and I agree that Wales has a better claim to the word British than perhaps anywhere else except Cornwall and the Old North. That's part of the reason I don't think we as nationalists should fight against Britishness.

M, I think you're bound up by the idea of having to see Britishness as those who want to keep the UK together see it. My point is that we don't have to accept that as an "all or nothing" package. If we separate out what's good about it from what's bad about it we can hold on to the good bits and reject the bad bits. The dominance you talk of is real, but that's one of the bad bits we can ditch in favour of a more equal relationship.

Anon 19:07, I'm not doubting that the majority do see it in the way you describe. I've written this post in order to try and get people to think about it differently. I am very well aware of the large percentage living here that don't think of themselves as Welsh, and think there is a real urgency to act to save Wales as a nation before we are assimilated into England by population movement. The question is how we do it. We can't fight a rearguard action to protect what we once had, we have to fight on the front foot with the aim of creating something better than we have now. Those who have settled in Wales from elsewhere have as much right as we do to determine what Wales will become, but that is not a bad thing if we bear in mind that they chose to come here because they like Wales better than the place they used to live. Fighting against their social and cultural links elsewhere on this island is counterproductive to winning them over to political independence.

Cibwr, you've got it!

CoP, I don't think "legal entity" figures very highly on any anyone's agenda. It is like arguing that Scotland cannot "legally" call a referendum. What people want, and their right to democratic self-determination, is what matters. And I have to wonder if you really have "got it" by thinking of the Irish as British! Neither am I interested in doing my (or our) own polling as if we will somehow come up with a different set of figures. I accept the figures for what they are ... but the point I made at the start was that the questions in this survey were not about national identity.

Although not addressed to me, I would say this to Anon 20:38. The idea of a nation within a nation or a nation of nations is not normal. Most nations are independent, and they interact, trade and cooperate with each other as independent nations on the international stage, in organizations like the United Nations. I want Wales to have the same status as all these other nations. If it makes sense for them, why shouldn't it make sense for us?

Anonymous said...

MH - I think for many people in the UK and elsewhere the idea of a nation within a nation is entirely normal . I have no issue with the sort of nation that you want Wales to be - i.e. its own nation-state. That would be my preference too. But by suggesting, as I think you do, that proper nations are those which also form a state, I think you are inadvertantly arguing the case of those who see Wales only as a 'region' of the UK.

Anonymous said...

So normal in the UK, but not normal (almost) everywhere else in the world = normal?

Anonymous said...

Anon 22:46 - If most people believe something, it must be 'normal' to believe it. In the UK context, it is certainly normal to believe that both the UK and Wales/Scotland/England are nations. Furthermore, I would suggest that the concept of nations within nations - in one form or another - exists right across the world. For my own part, I identify my nationality as Welsh and only Welsh, and the nation I belong is Wales not Britain. But it would be silly to suggest that someone else who believes that they have a dual Welsh/British nationality and that they belong to both a Welsh and British nation is deceiving themselves - they are what they believe they are.

Anonymous said...

But most people DON'T believe it. This island has 60m people, the world has 6.8bn.

Give an example of anywhere ELSE in the world where a nation recognises a territory within it as a nation.

A Change of Personnel said...

The point I was making is simply that there has never been a country or legal entity called Scandinavia in the way there has been a country and legal entity called Britain so trying to compare the two doesn’t fit as neatly as you’d suggest in your post.

And the point on the Think Tank was not that you challenge the findings but build an alternative case from a Welsh perspective instead of tearing the other findings apart.

Plaid Gwersyllt said...

MH - Check out this Straight Statistics article
http://www.straightstatistics.org/article/welsh-parents-wooed-questionable-propaganda

No marks for guessing who Straight Statistics source is!

Anonymous said...

Anon 04:02 there are examples. Greenland within Denmark is a nation legally and has far more powers than Wales. Netherlands has a number of constituent countries in its former imperial possessions, Sint Maarten etc. Quebec is legally a nation in the Canadian union. The current Catalan government states that they are a nation within Spain (some Spanish elements contest this). These are all quite stable examples in democracies. MH is right because its the facts here on this island that matter the most. Britain is a multinational state with a transnational identity sitting alongside its own national identities.

In response to Aled's point above though he is wrong to suggest the SNP is attacking Britishness. Much of their case is based on saying they will still be a British country post-independence.

What hasn't been explored in this debate really though is something not relevant to Scotland. The specific level of integration between Wales and England. Firstly in goods, markets and capitalism, secondly in public services. Devolution has perhaps undermined the second strand of integration but the first is as strong as ever. The real ties keeping Wales and England integrated are capitalistic business ties. Identity flows from that really. There is no prospect at all for a non-capitalist Wales so what is the answer? Capitalist integration in the EU has led to a weakening of national sovereignties and the same point stands for economic integration within the Sterling Zone and more specifically between Wales and England.

Anonymous said...

something that I find quite interesting since starting my current job, is how people fill in forms which ask for nationality. I work in Torfaen, and we are constantly asking people to complete application forms for ESF funding for training. I am amazed how many people tick the "English" box for nationality instead of "Welsh". But when asked about it, practically all say that they don't speak Welsh, so that's why they ticked the "English" box, thinking that it related to language!

Anonymous said...

the Welshness gene will never die. Be it in Gwinedd, Ceredigion or the Rondda, we will always regrow and recreate our identity. With, or without the language. The language may die, but we will still be a nation more so now than ever in our entire history. Over the years, the language is a lesser indication of national identity in reality. Most people do not, nor wish to speak Welsh, but appreciate,and often are really supportive of the basic right to be able to use your native language in your daily life and want access to learn it. The language is no longer the be all and end all of national identity. Finally us here in the southeast can be Welsh without the Language. Many people have family connections with the language like my family where a decision was taken to only speak english in the family because they were the only welsh speakers in the street in Penygraig and people thought they were weird!!Me and my cousins, dyn ni gyd yn siaradwyr Cymraeg! Ac mae'r sustem YN gweithio!

Anonymous said...

sorry the Rhondda

MH said...

On the matter of normality, Anon 22:28/23:35, I think that Anon 00:02 got it right by saying the key was the "contained" nation being recognized by the "containing" nation. I'd accept Quebec and Greenland qualify. I'm not so sure about the others. Spain explicitly refuses to recognize Euskadi and Catalunya as nations (which is inconsistent and bizarre, for the Spanish constitution uses the word "nationalities" and that surely implies the existence of a nation). France doesn't recognize Breizh. China doesn't recognize Tibet. Sri Lanka doesn't recognize the Tamil nation. Turkey and Iran don't recognize Kurdistan ... although Iraqi Kurdistan is probably very close to being a de facto nation. There might be some more, but I'd be surprised if there were half a dozen. The United Nations has nigh on two hundred members.

So you might call that normal, but to me it's rather like hearing someone say, "Being a nine foot tall bald lesbian with blue skin, yellow spots, two tails and a lisp is perfectly normal for me!"

-

The idea of having a national identity within a national identity is, as I see it, complete nonsense; and my aim is to get people in Wales to see it as nonsense. In that sense Anon's 22:28 comment is right. Either Wales is a region of the UK or it is a nation like the vast majority of other nations in the world. It can't be both, and we have to decide which one Wales is to be. To me, it is a typically British fudge to call Wales a "nation" yet deny Wales the same status as other nations enjoy on the world stage. I'm not satisfied with the British state giving us a badge which says Wales is a "nation" when in practical terms we are no more than a region of the UK. It's in the same order of silliness as referring to Fife as a "kingdom" ... a quaint quirk of history which means nothing at all in real terms.

A real nation must be independent, and because we are a democracy we can be independent if we want to be. If we want Wales to be a real nation, we must take responsibility for ourselves as a nation.

MH said...

The point you're making is fine, CoP, but I don't see it as particularly important to the point that I was making. I'm using Scandinavia and the Caribbean as examples of what are now independent countries sharing common social, cultural, historic and economic ties ... seeing themselves as a distinct grouping, and being seen by the world as a distinct grouping. For me, these act as models of what Britain might become.

The Nordic Council and Nordic Council of Ministers would be a good template for how our ties might be formalized and how the relationships could work. There's also a Nordic Investment Bank, Nordic Culture Fund,
Nordic Project Fund, Nordic Environment Finance Corporation and Nordic Development Fund. I hope this shows that many of the bodies which people think can only exist within a nation can exist just as well within a grouping of independent nations working together as equals.

It's not too hard to imagine the much more recently formed British-Irish Council, which is at present just a council of ministers, developing into something similar ... for the nations of Britain have quite a bit in common with Ireland too. A Council of the Isles strikes me as a perfect forum for our nations to work together as equals.

But you're mistaken if you think I've torn any findings apart. I have simply said that a conclusion that others have jumped to is not in fact justified on the basis of the actual questions that YouGov asked. The findings aren't a problem, the interpretation is.

... and we're working on the think tank.

MH said...

The point you're making is fine, CoP, but I don't see it as particularly important to the point that I was making. I'm using Scandinavia and the Caribbean as examples of what are now independent countries sharing common social, cultural, historic and economic ties ... seeing themselves as a distinct grouping, and being seen by the world as a distinct grouping. For me, these act as models of what Britain might become.

The Nordic Council and Nordic Council of Ministers would be a good template for how our ties might be formalized and how the relationships could work. There's also a Nordic Investment Bank, Nordic Culture Fund,
Nordic Project Fund, Nordic Environment Finance Corporation and Nordic Development Fund. I hope this shows that many of the bodies which people think can only exist within a nation can exist just as well within a grouping of independent nations working together as equals.

It's not too hard to imagine the much more recently formed British-Irish Council, which is at present just a council of ministers, developing into something similar ... for the nations of Britain have quite a bit in common with Ireland too. A Council of the Isles strikes me as a perfect forum for our nations to work together as equals.

But you're mistaken if you think I've torn any findings apart. I have simply said that a conclusion that others have jumped to is not in fact justified on the basis of the actual questions that YouGov asked. The findings aren't a problem, the interpretation is.

... and we're working on the think tank.

MH said...

I'm not at all sure about your second and third paragraphs, Anon 09:40. The SNP certainly aren't saying there will be a British "country" post-independence. Are you trying to make a distinction between a "country" and a "nation"? For me, they are the same thing.

I'm interested by your final paragraph, but it doesn't make sense to me. It seems to be a conflation of two ideas which I think of as separate.

I'm not sure "integration" is the right word. Firstly, having a high level of trade and movement of people and goods across an international border is something that has happened for centuries. Border cities and regions all over the world have grown prosperous because of it, but it doesn't usually mean integration. Each country usually keeps its identity.

I think one of the flaws in the Holtham report is that it saw the cross border movement between Wales and England and the comparatively large populations close to the border as something negative, and thought Scotland was in a better position because it had a larger "dead zone" (that may not be the right word to use, but at this time of night it made me smile) to separate the major population centres. For me, the border with England and the people who live not far from the border provide opportunities for Wales that we can exploit to our advantage. Think of Luxembourg, think of the movements of people, goods and service across their borders with France, Germany and Wallonia. They make it work to their advantage and have become very rich because of it. I get the impression you're not really comfortable about Wales getting rich this way.

I'm then uncomfortable that you've mixed this in with the EU and what you call the weakening of national sovereignties. That's not the way I see the EU. For me, Europe should always be an association of independent sovereign nations. I reject European federalism.

The problem isn't the EU, it is globalization. Specifically the sort of exploitational globalization that makes it cheap to take resources from almost any part of the planet at the drop of a hat. But a world run that way is not sustainable, particularly as fuel/energy prices rise. Things will have to be done on a smaller scale than they are now. I have a lot of time for the argument that Wales has been run as a country with resources for others to exploit, and I see our future prosperity as being based on using our own resources sustainably for our own benefit. We are in a perfect position to be successful and prosperous in that sort of world ... much more so than England because it is largely over-populated and does not have the resources to sustain itself.

MH said...

I'm not at all sure about your second and third paragraphs, Anon 09:40. The SNP certainly aren't saying there will be a British "country" post-independence. Are you trying to make a distinction between a "country" and a "nation"? For me, they are the same thing.

I'm interested by your final paragraph, but it doesn't make sense to me. It seems to be a conflation of two ideas which I think of as separate.

I'm not sure "integration" is the right word. Firstly, having a high level of trade and movement of people and goods across an international border is something that has happened for centuries. Border cities and regions all over the world have grown prosperous because of it, but it doesn't usually mean integration. Each country usually keeps its identity.

I think one of the flaws in the Holtham report is that it saw the cross border movement between Wales and England and the comparatively large populations close to the border as something negative, and thought Scotland was in a better position because it had a larger "dead zone" (that may not be the right word to use, but at this time of night it made me smile) to separate the major population centres. For me, the border with England and the people who live not far from the border provide opportunities for Wales that we can exploit to our advantage. Think of Luxembourg, think of the movements of people, goods and service across their borders with France, Germany and Wallonia. They make it work to their advantage and have become very rich because of it. I get the impression you're not really comfortable about Wales getting rich this way.

I'm then uncomfortable that you've mixed this in with the EU and what you call the weakening of national sovereignties. That's not the way I see the EU. For me, Europe should always be an association of independent sovereign nations. I reject European federalism.

The problem isn't the EU, it is globalization. Specifically the sort of exploitational globalization that makes it cheap to take resources from almost any part of the planet at the drop of a hat. But a world run that way is not sustainable, particularly as fuel/energy prices rise. Things will have to be done on a smaller scale than they are now. I have a lot of time for the argument that Wales has been run as a country with resources for others to exploit, and I see our future prosperity as being based on using our own resources sustainably for our own benefit. We are in a perfect position to be successful and prosperous in that sort of world ... much more so than England because it is largely over-populated and does not have the resources to sustain itself.

Anonymous said...

MH - If you cannot accept the idea of a nation within a nation because it does not fit in with your narrow definition of a nation (based solely on a nation being an independent sovereign nation state) the logical conclusion is that you therefore believe that Wales is currently just a region of the UK or perhaps England. Furthermore, as independence is unlikely to happen any time soon, if at all, those of us who believe that Wales is currently a nation might as well give up the fight and surrender to our fate.

Welsh not British said...

I fully accept that there are many nationalists for whom "Welsh not British" is a core conviction. In terms of nationality I fully agree ... but only in terms of nationality. I believe that the nations of Britain have plenty of things which we share and can celebrate, and for that reason I won't object to being called British any more than a Dane would object to being called Scandinavian or a Jamaican would object to being called Caribbean.

-----

Welsh yes, European even but British? I could never admit to being part of such an evil, blood thirsty and oppressive class based system that the whole 'Britishness' revolves around.

To be British is to accept your place in the system. Where poor regions MUST remain poor in order to keep the rich regions richer. That is something I could never agree with.

As for celebrating Britishness? Name something recent that we can all celebrate together? There is nothing!

Welsh not British.

MH said...

What you don't seem to understand is the difference between being called a nation and taking the responsibility that is part and parcel of being a nation, Anon.

If you're content with the idea of being "a nation within a nation", the obvious question people will ask is, "Then what are you fighting for?" By taking that line, you're confusing the issue rather than clarifying it.

It is much better to see Britain as a group of nations rather than as a nation. From that perspective, the anomaly of being "a nation within a nation" disappears.

MH said...

You're describing the ills of the British state, Welsh not British, and I couldn't agree more. That's why I want to see the British state consigned to history, to be replaced by the nations of Britain taking their place in the world as independent nation states.

But after the British state has ceased to exist, Britain will remain.

Anonymous said...

MH - in reply to your 11.03. I didn't say I was 'content' to be part of a nation within a nation. But it is the reality of our current situation; it is what the majority of people believe and, at this time, they want it to stay that way. I suspect that we are actually not that far apart in our views. Like me, you think there are lots of steps that we can take to further the interests of Wales short of outright independence. They may or may not eventually result in independence. Where we differ is that you will view anything which stops short of independence as a total failure. I will see it a partial success.

MH said...

But do the majority of people believe it, Anon? The point of this post is that people are quick to jump to that conclusion because they are not making a distinction between seeing yourself as British and seeing your nationality as British.

Arguing for the idea of Wales being a "nation within a nation" is guaranteed to perpetuate the very assumption we should be challenging.

Not only is it muddled thinking, it's tactically inept.

Anonymous said...

Anon 09:18 "...If you cannot accept the idea of a nation within a nation...the logical conclusion is that you therefore believe that Wales is currently just a region of the UK".

But the UK isn't, and never has been a 'nation'. It's always been an empire. The Welsh are a stateless nation within an empire.

Ambiorix said...

Anonymous said..26 April 2012 18:55

http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/tm_headline=-most-of-the-gene-pool-of-the-british-isles-is-very-ancient--it-has-nothing-to-do-with-celts-or-anglo-saxons--------&method=full&objectid=18479183&siteid=50082-name_page.html
================================

I really wish people would do some research before posting garbage like this.
THe Haplotype for modern Wales is predominately R1b-L21 which has never been found in ancinet DNA other than in a grave dating from the late bronze age in Germany.Also the haplotype found throughout Eruope during the neolithic is actually G2a,see link:http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2011/10/24/1113061108.abstract

Also from the BBC,"Age estimates

Now, a team including Cristian Capelli and George Busby at Oxford University have explored the question.

Their results, based on a sample of more than 4,500 men from Europe and western Asia, showed no geographical trends in the diversity of R-M269. Such trends would be expected if the lineage had expanded from Anatolia with Neolithic farmers.

Furthermore, they suggest that some of the markers on the Y chromosome are less reliable than others for estimating the ages of genetic lineages. On these grounds, they argue that current analytical tools are unsuitable for dating the expansion of R-M269.

Indeed, Dr Capelli and his team say the problem extends to other studies of Y-chromosome lineages: dates based on the analysis of conventional DNA markers may have been "systematically underestimated", they write in Proceedings B.

But Dr Capelli stressed that his study could not answer the question of when the ubiquitous R-M269 expanded in Europe, although his lab is carrying out more work on the subject.

"At the moment it's not possible to claim anything about the age of this lineage," he told BBC News, "I would say that we are putting the ball back in the middle of the field."

Co-author Dr Jim Wilson from the University of Edinburgh explained: "Estimating a date at which an ancestral lineage originated is an interesting application of genetics, but unfortunately it is beset with difficulties."

The increasing frequency of R-M269 towards western Europe had long been seen by some researchers as an indication that Palaeolithic European genes survived in this region - alongside other clues.

A more recent origin for R-M269 than the Neolithic is also possible. But researchers point out that after the advent of agriculture, populations in Europe exploded, meaning that it would have been more difficult for incoming migrants to displace local people".
See link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/mobile/science-environment-14630012

Hopefully this has educated some people on here!

Anonymous said...

A Welsh Poll is out tommorrow from the goovernance centre and yougov? heard about this MH?

Neilyn said...

Very interesting Ambiorix. Now please tell us the relevance of haplotypes to contemporary politics...

MH said...

I'd agree with Neilyn on this. The racial purity of people on this island is of as little interest to me as whether a head of state can trace their bloodline back to William the Conqueror or Kim Il-sung.

But Ambiorix said what he did to specifically counter the claim made by Anon 18:55 about ethnic homogeneity, and I'm grateful to him for that.

There are no prizes for guessing why our troll wanted to link ethnicity with nationality. The rest of us must always stress that Welsh nationalism is an inclusive, civic nationalism rather than an exclusive, race-based nationalism.

-

I didn't know about the poll, but I'll look forward to seeing it.

Welsh not British said...

"I'd agree with Neilyn on this. The racial purity of people on this island is of as little interest to me as whether a head of state can trace their bloodline back to William the Conqueror or Kim Il-sung."

Everyone should be welcome, as long as they want what is best for Wales.

Anonymous said...

bad news for Plaid in council elections, LAB AT 48%


http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/2012/05/01/sweeping-gains-for-labour-across-wales-poll-predicts-91466-30872944/

Neilyn said...

"Everyone should be welcome, as long as they want what is best for Wales."

In an ideal world, yes. Unfortunately, Unionists, Cymrophobes like Gogwatch and others have their own ideas about what's 'best for Wales', and it certainly does not include full equality and independence as a nation state, the right for all children to become comfortably and competently bilingual in Welsh and English, and for Welsh to become a 'normalised', mainstream language in Wales.They want what is best for Anglophone England/Britain/UK. There's the challenge - how not to be unwelcoming to those that who come here without thought or care as to Welsh sensitivities. Realistically, is it even possible, or does one have to disguise one's true feelings and live in a state of perpetual resentment?

Listening to Mr. Cameron's defence of devolution and his promise of further fiscal powers for the Scottish Parliament, and of course his defensive rhetoric of Great Britain and it's (largely past) glories on the one hand, and his outright opposition to having to let Scotland go with the inevitable diminishing of 'England' (the Dad's Army version, not the real one) on the Global Stage, one could almost be forgiven for thinking HIS party had been staunch supporters of devolution and 'home rule' as a sensible compromise for the multi-national UK. I bet now they wish they had been!

Anonymous said...

MH are youou making a prediction for council elections? and posting on the you gov poll?

Ambiorix said...

Neilyn said...
Very interesting Ambiorix. Now please tell us the relevance of haplotypes to contemporary politics...

======================

Anonymous..26 April 2012 18:55 had brought the topic up not me!I was merely pointing out the flaws to Anonymous ..26 April 2012 18:55 post. The relevance to modern politics is probably none.

Neilyn said...

Ambiorix,

Just goes to show how ripe the genetics issue is for misunderstanding! My apologies.

Anonymous said...

Anyone can join YouGov poll, whether the answers to their questions are correct and honest is another matter!!!

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