Where is the Welsh Revolution?
From Planet 219
Simon Brooks decries the weakness of Welsh nationalism as demonstrated through Plaid Cymru’s General Election campaign, and argues that the national cause has become subsumed within a pan-British anti-austerity radicalism.
Why is Welsh nationalism so weak? Britain’s other small, stateless nation, Scotland, has undergone not one, but two national revolutions within the last twelve months. The dominant nation, England, is also speaking as a nation, and we must be grateful that its voice although on the Right, has found expression in a wet, Disraelian Conservatism, rather than the bucolic politics of the repulsive UKIP. Not for the first time, the Welsh should be grateful for the common decency of our friends and neighbours, the English.
Adding 0.8%, one voter in every 120, to the Plaid Cymru pile in the 2015 Westminster election was no result at all in a revolutionary situation. The British State is breaking up! It is 1848 by the Danube, Parnell in Cork in the 1880s, human chains across the Baltics in 1989. This is the British ‘Spring of nations’, the British emancipation of peoples. It should be a Brythonic revolution too.
Opposing fracking, standing up to the cuts, support for the latest public sector strike: these are worthy causes, but British in character and the word is not meant in any pejorative sense. There is a failure here to develop a national narrative. That image of political hugging on the stage during the leaders’ debates, the ‘anti-austerity alliance’, is the image of a nationalism which is a point on the political compass of a wider British radicalism rather than the compass itself. Nationalism has become party to a pan-British radicalism, and generous towards those who reject the national cause. This was an election in which Plaid Cymru embraced a party, the EnglandandWales Green Party, which was standing against its own candidates, including in Ceredigion, its main target seat.
The sermon sold by Green radicalism in Wales is that of John Stuart Mill’s Liberalism told anew. To be included within the common British civic space is freedom indeed, and for the individual to be free, he must be emptied of his own explicit commitment to nationality; for identity, the mark of the tribes of the forest, the mark of the group, bears down on him and disturbs him. Not that any of this affects the English, for in Britain the English man or woman can be emancipated from ethnicity without disengaging from Englishness. This is possible because the civic space in Britain is itself English. Thus, for the English, the abandonment of ethnic identity is abjection in name only.