by Siôn Rees Williams
2011 promises to be an eventful and decidedly important year in the future of both our respective nations. I sincerely hope that the goodwill I have already received from many members of this newspaper will continue, as will the growth in ties between those of a common mind and aims for both Scotland and Wales. Our fight and opponents are common ones, and a unity of purpose and vision at the beginning of the year should prove memorable for our political campaigns. It will also influence the future direction which the separate nations of the Disunited Kingdom will take, and how the powers that be in that centralised, over-bearing and artificial state will react.
I am on a learning curve here as to the nature and earnest campaigns of politically-minded Scots who seek the independence of their great, historical nation and also to receive the respect that she is due – both south of Hadrian’s Wall and further afield. I am grateful to you all for keeping me up to speed with developments ‘up there’ and also of the inevitable backlashes from an ignorant London-centric elite and supine, xenophobic media – both in broadcasting and in the printed word. In my own way, I shall continue to support those Scots who value their country higher than those who gladly take the crumbs from an alien and often antagonistic government in London.
My position then, as previous postings have probably made clear, is unambiguous, and in the coming year I intend to further my position as a conduit and an ambassador, between our respective peoples. A networker by nature and conviction I am convinced of the worth of co-operation between Scotland and Wales.
You will know by now that in January the Welsh language becomes official de jure in Wales for the first time, with the Royal Assent being given to the National Assembly’s Welsh Language (Wales) Measure. As a patriot, a linguist and a believer in justice and fair play, you can imagine how important this is for the national psyche. True, there will be much to do to ensure the survival of ‘the old language’, yet the mere legal proclamation that ‘the Welsh language is official in Wales’, written in black and white sends a tingle down the spine. And yes, don’t forget, English does not share this legal officiality anywhere in the Disunited Kingdom.
Our battles will rejoined to save the cultural, independent broadcasting pearl that is S4/C – the Welsh Fourth Channel. Obtained as it was through mass civil disobedience in the 1970s, with a threat of a hunger strike by the late Dr Gwynfor Evans, leader of Plaid Cymru, we are not prepared to have it swallowed up by a biased, uncaring, London-centric institution – the so-called British Broadcasting Corporation. This Channel was obtained indeed, following the only known U-turn by Margaret Thatcher, and it has proven to be a beacon, an inspiration to other minority language groups worldwide. Again, the connection to Scotland is strong – if they see fit to abolish our award-winning national channel, how soon will you be piping a lament to the death of BBC Alba?
We will have our referendum on more powers for the National Assembly on 3 March. I encourage you Scots to support a ‘Yes’ vote in that referendum if you have the vote in Wales. Or if you have family or friends who do, rally them behind the ‘Yes’ campaign – more decisions made at a Wales level for the people of Wales is what is needed, not diktats from an out-of-touch government in London. In a similar vein, I am confident that the Welsh will support your efforts to obtain yet further autonomy for yourselves in Scotland. The unionist road-blocks WILL be torn down – they are only playing for time.
It is noted outside Scotland that Tom Gallagher, an academic in ‘Peace Studies’ at Bradford University, seems intent on preaching ‘disharmony’ between two component parts of these islands rather than studying matters such as student funding in an analytical, academic even way.
In May of the coming year there will be another pre-ordained event of momentous significance to our respective nations. The National Assembly and Holyrood elections of May 2011 will prove vital to the paths that Scotland, Wales and England will follow from thereon. A smouldering anger at the redundancy of the Union could well see the complete rejection of the London-centred parties. It is almost certain that the Conservatives and Liberals will be devastated in the Celtic nations – maybe in so far as to being wiped out completely as happened post 1997 in the Westminster elections. A two-horse race in Scotland seems inevitable, and my hopes and expectations are for a convincing SNP victory.
I mentioned in an earlier post that we in Wales are on your coat-tails in Scotland – and that you provide us with inspiration and an example of a mature, political thinking. Thus, things may not be so simple at home, as they are with you. Indeed, education is still required of many Welsh not to vote Labour, (Liberals and Conservatives don’t figure that highly) despite a history of inactivity, hypocrisy and antagonism towards both the country and the national language. The timidity of the national party, Plaid Cymru, in this matter is noteworthy and I would urge its leadership to up its game by showing more maturity now that it has had experience of government. It must now present itself not only as the true ‘Party of Wales’ but also to forge international ties and play an active part in raising the nation’s image worldwide.
Together then, Welsh and Scots, face many common vicissitudes, enemies and a blatantly racist and xenophobic media. Let us proclaim, jointly, that we have common purpose in overthrowing such groups. The destiny of our two great historic nations is in our hands. Our voices WILL be heard, our right to self-determination and of taking our rightful places amongst the community of nations is inevitable. May we continue to cement our friendships and relationships with one another – knowing that, the dawn will break and OUR DAY WILL COME.