Archive for the ‘ politics ’ Category

The Eurozone Crises – So, to War then?

Ever since this Greek financial debacle got underway, I’ve found it increasingly difficult to prevent Sharpe style dreams infiltrating my sleep, as visions of a Napoleonic Europe seem to get closer and closer. It’s a vision not helped by a seemingly unhinged, unnervingly short Frenchman, merrily declares that if things aren’t sorted with the Eurozone, then Europe will explode. This is not long after a stern authoritarian German, who seems to have the whole of Europe bending at the knee to her fiscal power, came out with very similar sentiments. With the powers in play, and the stakes so high, is it time to have some real concerns about what is actually meant by the phrase ‘Europe will Explode’?

Now, this may be letting my imagination run away with things, but I would like to suggest that the phrase ‘Europe Will Explode’ can, and indeed does, mean only one thing – war. France and Germany seem to be spoiling for it, after all, Germany is so close to the total victory it has craved over Europe for so long, that the slow grind of absolute financial dominance might just be proving a fractionally too slow a process for their ambition to cope with. Of course the new Boney won’t stand for that and will have to meet the German challenge with usual French posturing. Italy has her issues, but Berlusconi has essentially modelled much of his political approach on that of Mussolini’s already, and given that he is close to exhausting all legal routes to holding onto power, as well as all legal loopholes, a full scale war would be the ideal tool for him to make use of to remain in the seat of power.

The UK is of course doing what it does best in preparation, staying behind the sea defences and pointing lots of fingers. ‘Don’t do that with the Euro’, ‘please don’t do that to it’, and when all falls on deaf ears the same sentiments will be backed up with a firmly worded letter.

Of course, we need something to fight over, hating the fact that we all have to work together as ‘Europeans’, while being a reason, is probably not quite reason enough to trigger a war (but not by much), so why not over Greece. Greece, in terms of the amount of money that has been directed into its coffers, must be one of the most on-paper affluent nations in the world by now. Even if it squandered all of the billions dropped on its doorstep, it has assets enough to go around, I’m sure for instance that the British Museum would like to finish off its collection to classical Greek friezes, and what better opportunity to go and pick up what Elgin left behind than a war.

So there we have it, the big players all have reason enough, the respective world leaders are generally barmy or desperate enough to get on board, and of course, nothing artificially stimulates an economy better than a good ol’ fashioned war. It’s how we solved these problems back in the day, and let’s face it, diplomacy and fiscal measures just aren’t cutting the mustard. So get your muskets ready, and don the caps, Europe is about to blow, and it’s going to blow Napoleonic style!   

The Parable of St Paul and the Protester.

St Paul’s Cathedral is certainly attracting some attention in recent days. Fingered as the biblical little bitch of the economic beasts that reside nearby, the protests that began as part of the ‘occupy’ campaigns that are scattered across the globe directed at big business, government and those that hold the purse strings of the world economies, seems to have descended (or ascended depending on your perspective) into a full blown assault on the Cathedral and its management itself. Following the wider media coverage at the moment, you would be forgiven for thinking that St Paul’s and those who huddle inside are actually those solely responsible for the economic crises and social hardships faced by those camped outside (though of course there are no shortage of well off middle class semi retirees in the crowd who can afford to take the time off from their oh so pressured lifestyles to go on holiday in central London, who realistically have very little to complain about in the real world, and have no tangible grasp on the concept of ‘social hardship’, but that’s something to rant about on another day).

Of course, in no way can St Paul’s take the direct responsibility for many of the ills upon which the Occupy protest is speaking out against, but equally it does little to cover its own back. Big business partners have been cited, the Cathedral for instance being firmly in bed with the financial devil thanks to the support it is offered by its friends in the commerce district. Yet people speak out in its defence, ‘this is a place of worship’ they cry, a place for prayer and reflection, not a place for the disgruntled mob of this generations political protesters to make a mess of with their candles and their placards and their tent tether ropes. Should a place of worship be singled out for what is made out to be such a disruptive protest (though how a group of people camping out next to, not in front of, and certainly not in front of the doors, can disrupt anyone from praying is beyond me)?

Again, St Paul’s does little to cover itself in glory. This ‘temple of worship’, this ‘place of god’, is hardly the most welcoming of institutions. After all, anyone can come into St Paul’s, anyone can come and admire of that which was inspired by God…so long as you have a spare £14.50 to give for the privilege. No shortage of signs outside the Cathedral ask ‘what would Jesus do?’ Well, one imagines the very first thing he would do is tear down the ticket office and chastise and humiliate the person responsible for putting a charge on the door of God’s house. Come to west Wales good pilgrims, come to St David’s Cathedral instead. Here you will be able to enter God’s house for free. Donations are requested, but that is your choice, your free will to decide if, and only then, how much should be parted with to gain entrance to such a sanctuary.

Put simply, St Paul’s has long been symptomatic of the problems seen in London, and many places elsewhere. It is a commercial enterprise; in practice its spiritual core, its ethical centre, has been eroded to make a profit. No doubt they in the Cathedral will speak of the need for such fees for the maintenance of the building. Well St Paul’s, plenty of other Cathedrals manage just fine without ripping off the pockets of those who wish to look upon the inspiration of God, why can’t you?

St Paul’s and its direct affiliates may not be responsible for the economic crises and all of its implications, but it has put itself in bed with the devil of the coin. In entrance fees and its financial partners, this institution has very firmly turned its back upon the principals of its foundation, and stood up to be counted with all that goes against that what it preaches to stand for. St Paul’s is not responsible, but it is certainly due its share of the blame. So cheers to the protesters, give ‘em hell, because due to the decisions made by the hierarchy of the Cathedral, they have committed themselves on a path in that direction already.

The University of Shame: But Blame Where It Is Due

 The University of Wales seems to be rumbling from one disaster to another these days. As Ciaran Jenkins continues what now is amounting to a one man war against the institution, he will this evening reveal on BBC Wales’ Week in Week Out, what has largely been revealed through plenty of other mediums, that, in short, the running of the University of Wales is rotten. First we had the bizarre Malaysian fake degree fiasco, then the desperate and repeated attempts to merge with anyone and everyone as the institution prostituted itself to all who would have her (takers were low given the savagely infected state of the product), and now we have the revelation that affiliates of the Institution have been selling off degrees to any old foreign national with a desire for a permit, and the cash to spare – put simply, it is raining shit on the University of Wales.

However, while there will be plenty of hand wringing inside the institution, and no shortage of finger pointing from those outside as the hurried ranks of vice chancellors and pit bull AMs line-up to add their tinder to the bonfire and hoist the broken frame of the syphilitic University onto its funary pyre, it is worth taking a moment to ask where the blame should be placed. In the coming days, as they have done over the past few years, it is the staff, the teaching staff that is, and the students who will bear the brunt of the indignity and shame brought upon the body. Who wants to stand up and say that they work for the University of Wales today? Who wants to wave their degree award from the University of Wales proudly in the air, when across the road a man with grasp of neither the English or Welsh language, pushing a homemade falafel stand down the high street, waves his degree right back at them?

The students are not the perpetrators of this succession of institutional humiliations, the teaching staff, continuing their endeavours to educate in the face of annual cutbacks to staff and research budgets, are not responsible for other affiliates passing on empty degrees to the highest bidder. The finger of blame should dig deep into the heart of the University of Wales, until it jabs at the spleen of those in the tiers of management who have seen this course of action grow and fester and rot at the guts of the establishment, it is those suited individuals who cared about the cream, cut off of the top of the cup of fiscal deviancy, that has transformed what was once, a long time ago, a beacon of educational aspiration in Wales, into an intestinally crippled, diarrhoea ridden goblin, lurking under a bridge and clawing at the coat tales of any institution not yet stained by its rot.

Find who is responsible – punish them, cleanse with fire if need be those who have torn down the foundations of this institution, and build it a new from inside out, but see that the blame is placed where it is deserved. Many good honest hard working staff and students will be punished because of this, and the blame is not theirs to carry.

5p Plastic Bag Threat Grips Nation.

One woman not afraid of the threat of plastic bags.

It might be an indictment on the Welsh Governments’ agenda, that the most news worthy story coming out of the Senedd these days is one that follows the reactions of a nation to the looming dread of individuals having to pay 5 pence for a plastic bag in shops. Or perhaps it is an indictment on many in the nation, that so many should prove to be sounding so indignant towards the reality of having to pay what could be found dropped on a pavement for a single plastic bag. Whoever we feel in the mood to indict, the reality is that shoppers in Wales will, as of tomorrow, be facing up to the fact that, occasionally, and in some circumstances, they will have to pay a little extra should they wish to take home their shopping in a carrier bag, made of plastic, and provided by the shop. Exciting isn’t it?

Well, exciting is not the phrase that would be chosen here. It is a story of passing interest perhaps but little more. Indeed, one of the most impressive parts of the public reaction to this Welsh Government policy, is that so many companies have been charging for the use of their plastic bags for much longer, and mores the point, have been charging more for the privilege (10 pence in many cases). Yet coverage of this story dominates the Welsh media, and has received plenty of attention on the BBC 24 hour news channel. It is a fine enough policy in many respects, though one wonders why the Labour group did not take things further. 5 pence per plastic bag, in relation to the well discussed environmental arguments, seems a fair price to pay (indeed, the bag is a product provided by a company, a price of pennies for a product, environment debates to one side, seems a fair price to pay), yet Labour could have taken the move to ban them outright – that would have been newsworthy.

So the steady stream of voxpops roll out, gibbering of ‘it’s good for the environment’, ‘I already have a bag for life’, face off against ‘how can they expect us to afford it when the country is in the state it’s in’ and ‘it’s not fair, it’s not fair’…

It’s a tough one to argue against, not coherently anyway. There are too many bags floating around Wales, as well as plenty of other places in the world. Will a 5p bag tax fix this? No, not entirely, but it is a start, and frankly, given the UK governments plans to inject more money into collecting more waste, this seems an immanently more environmentally conscious scheme. As for those who seem to be hailing the impending 5penny bag as the coming of the end of days, what exactly do you think will happen as a negative consequence of this proposal? Will the elderly be financially crippled by the cost of a bag so much so that they will fear shopping in the first place? Will those on benefits be left to drop dead in the streets as they weigh up the choice of a bag over rice, a bag over vodka, a bag over cigarettes? Will families with more than one child to raise, be forced to leave their other offspring behind the bike sheds, because they just can’t afford to maintain another mouth as well as their five a week shopping bag habit? Of course not. It’s a damnable 5 penny price on a plastic bag. You can afford it, it won’t ruin your life, and it might just help to make the world slightly better for the rest of us.

It’s not exciting stuff from the Senedd, but it’s also not the end of the world. So stop your bleating, look behind the sofa before heading to the shops for those five small pieces of bronze coin, or better yet, keep the bloody bag you bought last time.

But come on Wales – please get over yourself, it’s 5p for a bag, not a taxation policy on our ability to produce blood, just relax, take the medicine (prescribed for free by the way) and let’s get on with our lives without letting the rest of the UK think this is the most pressing matter to trouble our lives here.

S4C: Plaid Find Their Inner Gwynfor.

Finally, after years of being nice and keeping their heads under the parapet, Plaid have decided at their annual conference that they actually have a voice, and some guts behind it as well – at least from a policy point of view. Of course it is yet to be seen how many of the Plaid delegates will actually go through with the proposed boycott of the licence fee in order to protect the current status of S4C, but the mere fact that the proposal has been supported is an indication that Plaid are finding a little of their former strength and conviction.

 

Most with an interest in the future of S4C will be well aware of the threatened hunger strike pitched by prominent Plaid politician Gwynfor Evans in 1980, and the key role it played in the creation of the essential Welsh language channel. While the consensus from Plaid today is not one that goes quite as far as Gwynfor’s plan, it is one that shows a degree of intent not seen from the core party for some time. The key distinction here is that the party membership are actually committing to breaking the law.

 

TV licence payment is a legal requirement, not paying it, or any fines that follow an initial reluctance to pay the licence, can result in imprisonment. Make no mistake about it, Wales’ nationalist party is inciting its membership to break the law, and potentially risk going to jail, and good for them. Again, it waits to be seen how many of those who raised their hands in favour of the motion would actually see through such measures, but one hopes that a statistically significant proportion of members would actually go through with their commitment, to make the sort of difference that Gwynfor did by risking, not his freedom, but his health and his very life in order to achieve his goals for the protection of Wales.

 

For far too long Plaid have been content with gains, small, measureable political gains, a syndrome seen most clearly in the last Assembly election campaign where point scoring became the core of the parties strategy. This move marks a new sense of intent. This is not a move that will appeal to the broadest range of voters in Wales, but a move that will appeal to its core voters, and its historical core intentions, fighting for Wales. We might hope that this is a move that will signal a fresh start to Plaid policies. Remembering where the party comes from, and remembering its core Welsh nationalist goals are essential for the party to grow and reclaim its position as the second party in Wales. Under Ieuan Wyn Jones, the party tasted government, and concentrated on working with what is had, rather than fighting for what it wants. Now as one of the true victories of Plaid’s history, S4C, is under threat, the party now rises to fight for what it might lose. Perhaps this will be the start of the party reclaiming its desire to fight for what it wants once more, though actions still speak louder than words.

 

Clarification regarding BNP

Just in case anyone has got the wrong impression, following a certain, rather obscurely edited comment on another feed, this blog would very much like to stress its deep revulsion at the mere presence of the BNP party in local elections in Wales, anywhere in Wales for that matter.

To clarify what the particular comment response should have read as (I see it has generated a lot of traffic, hence very much wanting to clarify my position on it):

‘What will I be doing to protect my grand children’s future…? Not voting for the BNP for a start.’

It didn’t quiet come out like that for some reason – but that was very much what should have been published.

Lembit Opik – Not Welsh, Now Go Away.

 Poor Lembit Opik, or at least that is what we once used to say. Always one of the more obscure politicians, who you would be hard placed to put a policy or a decent PMQs contribution to his name, yet despite being an almost non entity in Parliament, we all knew about him. Thanks to his entertaining personality, his political irrelevance was always something we could find a way to look beyond. Then the worst thing happened to someone in the public eye, he began to believe his own hype. Worse perhaps, he seemed to make a concerted effort to live the lifestyle that his audience (those of the gossip columns and salon gossips), rather than his constituents, expected him to.
 
As time went by, and more and more stories and pictures emerged of Lembit doing everything apart from his job, our collective sympathies began to wilt. Even after he lost his seat, there was a modicum of support, a sense of ‘never mind Lembit, we’ll look after you’, and then came the stand up career, another sad reflection of ‘believing one’s own hype syndrome’. Sympathies might have survived had he stayed in a state of political retirement, but no, an abortive attempt at the London mayoral seat soon followed.
 
One wonder who is advising Lembit these days, though it would seem a safe bet to conclude that he is largely advising himself, because had he of actually taken the Liberal nominations, it would seemed to have been an impossible task for him to make any meaningful dent in the actual Mayoral campaign. Nominated or not, another defeat would have followed, another battering to a broken political profile. Still, we might have been of a mind to say ‘well done for having a go at a comeback’, were it not for the Mandela line. Again, issues of advise spring to mind, as for Lembit to blurt out a comparison with one who ranks amongst the greatest of political figures of history, seems baffling and idiotic.
 
Now, there is a good chance that Opik meant this as a joke, and he has certainly attempted to play it that way following his use of the Mandela line. Yet, as the results of his stand up career might indicate, it was not a joke destined to be well received. In many respects, Opik’s constant reliance on falling back on funnies is an indictment on his current approach to politics. He seems out of touch with anyone who might be voting for him, and devoid of idea and strategy. Frankly, patience has run out with this plucky bizarre little former MP. For his own sake, one must hope that he takes his own advice, and embraces some wilderness years, and maybe take the time to acknowledge that, thanks to the choices made in recent years, there is no political future for him anymore. Time to hit the hay Lembit, and leave the scene while there is some faint trace of sympathy remaining – because there is not much left.
 
Now, it’s worth dwelling on why Lembit is being discussed in a Welsh blog, and why this blog is so keen to see the back of him. Simply, Lembit is still seen as a Welsh politician, and many still turn to him as a political voice of Wales. Let’s be clear, Lembit Opik, is not Welsh. He is not a Welsh MP or a Welsh AM – and seems to have no interest in becoming one. He does not represent Wales, he does not speak for the people of Wales. The fact that he still does is the main reason for this column wanting him to quietly leave the stage. Embarrassing yourself is one thing Lembit, but with every gaff and political folly, you embarrass Wales as well. We seem incapable of shaking you, when we would dearly love to do so. As a result, it is indeed time to take your wilderness years, take them and go far away. Hopefully, by the time you come back, should you do so, the taint of Opik on the Welsh political scene will finally have been washed off, and we will no longer have to put up with the London media holding you up to be the clinical example of a Welsh politician.
 
Thanks for the laughs Lembit, but please go away now.

Hating the Poor – Tories and Free Prescriptions.

It seems that the issue of free prescriptions is one that the political junkies can’t help but wheel out of the garage every few months for a good airing. BBC Wales today covered the latest price of covering prescription costs in Wales today, and the figures were indeed on the heavy side of being expensive. So once again here come the Tories, and they certainly love this issue. It’s almost like heroin for them, no matter how bad it often proves for the Tories to use it, they can’t help but going back to it. So it was that Darren Millar appeared to deliver sweeping broadside stabs at Labour policy, deriding free prescriptions as untenable in the given economic circumstances.

Of course, cancer had to come out as well, as Millar rumbled on citing spending on cancer as a problem in Wales, and why on why were we not spending more in this area? Of course Mr Millar, cancer is the one and only health issue in Wales at the moment isn’t it? No doubt, cancer treatment is not something to be left in want of funding, but its use as a political welly to wang in Labours face here is crass and out of touch, especially when Millar seems intent on suggesting that all other illnesses currently provided for by the free scheme simply don’t matter. This is certainly the implication of Millar’s words, and in his readiness to turn to the current economic situation, he belays the real problem with the current Tory opposition in the Senedd, that being a general disregard for the working class in Wales.

Following the Tory leader Andrew R T Davies, who has already led the way with his obscure emphasis on fox hunting, a national vote winner if ever there was, now Millar leads the well trodden path towards the abolishment of free prescriptions. The problem with all this is that in Millar’s own cited economic difficulties, one wonders how many families would afford the rising costs of medicines, were the policy to be abandoned? The simple answer is that many would not, and as a result, many would fail to follow up the medical advice afforded to them and fail to collect prescription medication. Were this to happen, then certainly the budget for cancer treatments would have to be increased, as many patients who turn away from the opportunity to manage and mitigate heath problems through free treatments, would find their health steadily decrease and develop into much worse conditions, cancers being the amongst the most likely to emerge in many cases.

While there may be an argument for reviewing what remains under the protection of the free prescription umbrella, to consider abolishing the programme entirely is to show little to no awareness for the financial difficulties facing families across Wales. Poor health is one of the major issues in Wales today, and losing free prescriptions would only serve to exacerbate that. While Millar might be the latest in a long line of Tories to enjoy the brief limelight afforded by the use of a political soundbite in the form of bashing free prescriptions, one hopes that he might be the last to indulge in such throw away statements. Just because something costs money, does not make it a bad thing. Free prescriptions play an essential role in providing medicines to hundreds across Wales who simply could not afford it any other way. Its abolishment would cost lives, rather than save them through redirected funds.

Mores the point, such a policy would cost working class lives first and foremost, but then, the likes of R T Davies and Mr Millar might well not be losing any sleep over that.

‘Welsh’ Personalities Back Lewis the Hatemonger.

 Well, as a few days passed since I wrote about the dangers of being complacent in the wake of Roger Lewis’ hate article, we have new offerings from the Independent now, and some truly insightful stuff from Matthew Bell. Have a look at it here if you like: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/welsh-tell-mp-to-lighten-up-over-race-slur-2345252.html. It would seem from Bell’s commentary that the only person to have taken any degree of offence from Lewis’ tirade against Welsh culture, was a single Welsh nationalist MP, that the rest of the country, represented in his article by those he describes as being ‘Welsh personalities’, are suggesting that Jonathan Edwards should just lighten up, get over it, and stop showing up the Welsh people as being a whiney bunch of children.

No doubt Matthew Bell will pay little to no attention to the many Welsh voices who have posted comments on his contribution that would largely fly in the face of his ‘one man campaign’ theory, and go back to relying on his own handpicked voice of the people. So perhaps we should consider his evidence platform in a little more detail, taking each Welsh ‘personality’ one at a time.

Rhondda MP Chris Bryant is first up, a man best known for taking on Rupert Murdoch, and of course making up a load of gibberish about the Royal Families involvement in the whole affair. Bryant is the classic Welsh Labour politician, earning his pay from a Welsh community, while enjoying his life in London. Were he to spend a little more time with his constituents rather than chasing down personal vendettas against wealthy Australians, he might find that the voice of opinion is actually one of annoyance at the very least, with anger being more common.

Next up, Lembit Opik, the man who is so committed to working within the Welsh political spectrum, that having been thrown out by his constituents, rather than pursue another position in his ‘home’ country’, he instead ran off to London to become mayor. No doubt looking to support the London Welsh Society when he gets elected…

Carol Vorderman is next up in the ‘Welsh’ category, her upbringing being cited as reason enough for her views to be considered. However, one must hope that the occasional appearance on ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ is not all that one must do to maintain an active sense of Welsh identity, or be able to speak on behalf of the nation…one hopes at least.

Finally, despite citing that Lewis ‘had been inundated with messages of support from Welsh and English people’, Bell can only name Stephen Fry and Giles Brandreth in his list of examples. I may be mistaken but Fry and Brandreth both, if memory serves, act as clear illustrations of the English elitist system, that has about as much interesting in protecting Welsh interests, as they are in giving away all of their collective assets to set up a finishing school for leprous goat herders (which, given track record, is probably how they perceive the simple minded over reactionaries of the Welsh nation to be).

When I wrote a few days ago about avoiding complacency in Wales regarding such issues, it was with the dangers of such written responses that I had in mind. Our single representative voice on this issue is being shot down, according to some distant London based writers, by the ‘voice of the Welsh nation’, made up of stay away MPs, failing London mayoral candidates, math teachers who might have visited the country two or three times in their adult life, an English comic who loves the states more than he has any affection for the little land to the side of his favored England, and a blue through and through Tory who would struggle to point at Wales on a map where Wales was the only country on display.

We cannot let the London media rely on such people to speak on our behalf. Let’s get this clear, Roger Lewis did not write a comedy article, he wrote several paragraphs of hatred. The people cited who support him do not represent the Welsh people, some are barely capable of representing themselves. If you want to see how people feel about this issue, look at the message boards, there you will find the true ire, not in the ‘keep the Welsh quiet’ columns of the English national media.

As for anyone in Wales who felt that Lewis’ article was indeed out of order, and an affront to the nation and its cultural heritage – do not let it lie, let people know how you feel, and don’t let the English media whitewash this abuse into oblivion!

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.