Reactive Nationalism in Wales - Sarah Woodbury

Reactive Nationalism in Wales

I am pretty free with my historical exposition on the discrimination of the Welsh by the English.  It’s long documented and I don’t need to go into it again here.  However, an article popped up on the Independent that addresses discrimination by Welsh people against English people who live in Wales.  Which isn’t good either, even if it’s understandable.

David Adamson, senior sociology lecturer at the University of Glamorgan and author of Class, Ideology and the Nation, said: “There are long historical reasons for these feelings . . . One of the phrases that is often used is reactive nationalism.”

The article begins:  “Among the fruit stands and butchers of the bustling indoor market in Cardiff, a small stall was doing a steady trade in Welsh souvenirs – postcards,T-shirts and fridge magnets in the shape of sheep.

Among the most eye-catching were two shirts, each with a rugby theme and slogan. One read: “I support two teams – Wales and whoever is playing England”. The other was much ruder. Both, apparently, are good sellers …

… Evidence suggests the prevalence of anti-English feeling in Wales may be growing and taking on a much darker edge, far removed from the two-way banter always associated with the Principality.

Naz Malik, chairman of Swansea Bay Race Equality Council, said this week that for the first time he had received complaints from a number of English people about racism. One complaint came from a married couple, William and Violet Sheppard, aged 78 and 75, detailing 17 years of harassment and abuse.

“You would not believe what we have had to endure,” said Mr Sheppard, originally from Kent and now living in Cwmllynfell, near Neath. “Broken windows, slashed tyres, rumours about me. They even tried to burn us out of our house. Our house is up for sale, but no one wants to come here. We have tried everything.”

On the flip side:

The Welsh broadcaster and writer Mario Basini said: “There is a fair degree of arrogance among the English in as far as English people move to Wales and act as though it is an extension of their country. It’s not – there are different attitudes, culture and a language.”

For the complete article, see:  Reactive Nationalism in Wales

The Independent traces the issues involved back to the 1800s, which is kind of laughable.  At the same time, one of my readers commented similarly on my blog, that he’d endured a long history of anti-English comments (at the pub, I think), and had no sympathy for the Welsh.  I’m visiting Wales in May and June and it will be interesting to put on my anthropology hat for a time…

2 Replies to “Reactive Nationalism in Wales”

  1. Sadly there is fault on both sides.

    The conduct of many of the English who move to the valleys and mountains to enjoy the scenery and the quiet life, while wanting all the comforts of London or Manchester, causes a lot of resentment. No different from when they head off to France, Spain or Croatia with their English attitudes and expectations.

    But too there are extreme nationalist who are still fighting the battles of centuries ago. Going into a bar or shop can be a daunting experience in some areas of south Wales and up on Anglesey. People who are actually happily chatting in English will suddenly revert to Welsh, and staff can be stubbornly unhelpful at times. A minority, certainly, but with strong influence in some smaller villages where the tourist dollar / pound is not relied upon.

    But most of the time there is no friction, and I’m sure that as Americans you’ll be received as royal guests, even before they learn about your books. 🙂

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