Don’t Get Complacent – Saving Wales.
The title, ‘saving Wales’, might seem a little redundant for some, surely with our strengthened Assembly, or Government as we are now calling it, in Cardiff, we are better placed now than we ever have been in the modern political era, to stamp our authority on the British Isles, and ensure that the Welsh brand is one that remains alive and well, and centred in the public consciousness. Yet there are plenty of signs that indicate that all is not well. It is easy enough to point at politicians for not having made most of the powers afforded to them, the sickly state of the health service in Wales, and the seemingly flat lining employment scene here as well, but there are other indicators that we should treat as flag points for concern.
Plenty was written about Roger Lewis’ diatribe against Welsh culture when it was first published in the Daily Mail, and his near racist vitriol was covered in this column as well. But following the initial outcry, with phone calls to the police, and letters sent to the PCC, the story went quiet very quickly. For many, a shared viewpoint on Lewis’ hatred was one of ‘let it go’, ‘just ignore it’ and ‘why are the Welsh getting so wound up about it’, a view expressed by as many people claiming to be Welsh as much it might have been by clear cut English commentators. The very fact that this story went quiet so quickly largely points to the voices of the ‘let it go’ brigade outnumbering those who were willing to get up and do something about it.
This might well point to some sense of growing political maturity in Wales, that we have somehow grown to a point where we are above the need to rise to such jibes. If this is the case, it is something we in Wales need to be very careful about in terms of how far we are willing to embrace such an attitude. The current state of growth of the Welsh language, and in relation, the state of preservation for Welsh culture, and the growing sense of political independence afforded to Wales today, was born out of a mindset which is completely opposed to that expressed by many in the wake of the Lewis tirade. We have not got Wales to where it is today by overlooking slurs against the nation and letting them go by the way side. Time was, such words would be a platform for rising up in a united national voice of outrage. Today, it offers a banner which only a few were willing to carry.
Wales has not been saved. With the current economic climate and general disregard for Welsh language services from the still looming London based authority, Wales remains precarious. If we reach a point of comfort with slurs against what makes Wales Welsh, however clichéd the categorisations might be, then we will never find ourselves in a position to tackle the economic issues which currently grip Wales. The recovery required in this country will only start with a sense of pride in the land. If this is a county in which there is a population that is vocal and loud about how it feels about its home, then it will become a far more attractive proposition to investors. Take an attitude that says ‘people knock us, and we don’t really do anything about it’, and any sense of respect and a subsequent desire to support those who express such opinions, will not be forthcoming.
The very lack of a widespread public outcry regarding the opinions of Lewis, is symptomatic of a decline in Wales. The formation of the Welsh Assembly/Government was a starting point in rebuilding this country, but complacency cannot be allowed to set in, as the journey that must be travelled for Wales is much much longer. It is imperative that Wales holds on to its anger, its burn. There might be a time in the future when we will be secure enough in ourselves, on social, political and economic levels, to be able to ignore such damaging remarks, but we are not there yet. And we will not reach that point while we are comfortable with people publishing such hurtful comments across the border.
Do not let us become complacent, do not let the hate that bubbles in many for Wales be ignored, get angry, get vocal, and keep fighting to save Wales.