Tuesday 24 April 2007

Our Welsh Identity

Over the years, successive UK governments have tried to defuse Welsh identity by creating cross-border institutions such as Manweb, TWW etc. The private sector has also done the same thing – I used to work for a Company with their Welsh ‘regional’ office in Bridgend. Then Wales was reorganized as part of their South West and North West regions, and as well as losing 20 jobs, a little bit of Wales disappeared. I am also a member of a professional organization which has a South Wales region, but in which North Wales is considered part of Merseyside although that would explain the accent…;0)

I suggest that one of the new laws that our incoming AMs could consider, is a ‘Respect of National Boundary’ act. Make it a requirement that any organization employing more than say 50 staff in Wales, or having a membership of more than say 100, is obliged to structure itself on a Wales (or regional within Wales) basis. Accounts and economic data should be published on a Wales-only basis, and we might find out a bit more about our economy. In practical terms this would involve companies doing little more than adding a few lines to their Excel spreadsheets. I am not suggesting that companies must open a dedicated Welsh office, but they might find it beneficial to do so, and it would certainly help protect those that are already here.

In the future Wales may have a different tax regime to England, and by establishing the necessary structures now, it will ease the pain of transition in the future.

No more combining Cardiff with Bristol, Wrexham with Chester, or Aberystwyth with Shrewsbury.
We must respect, enforce and celebrate our Welsh identity.


Rhodri said...

Good idea. Are there precedents for this type of law in any non-soveriegn nations?

Unknown said...

No idea - but that doesnt mean we cant be the first!!

Unknown said...

Rhodri - Just thinking about your question, I lived in UAE a few years ago and they do something similar - the UAE is a federal country with most power devolved to the individual states (emirates). If you want to run a business you have to apply for a trade licence, but it is only valid in one state, and you have to apply for a different licence in each state, with different reporting. One Sovereign nation, with strong internal borders.

Unknown said...

And thinking further, is this any different than the law in the US which requires professionals (Doctors, Engineers etc) to register on a state by state basis?

Rhodri said...

Very true. Thinking about it, such a framework would actually be fairly common given the number of federal and semi-federal states in the world. The the spanish state would also be a particularly relevant example, given that the Euskadi and Navarra autonomous communities have long had responsibility for their own taxation systems, and have recently been joined by Catalunya.

Nothing particularly revolutionary about such a sensible idea then- until you are confronted by the sheer power of the concept of Inglundandwales and its power over the minds of those who see the world from London who are incapable of conceiving of Wales a a coherent and meaningfu place.

The consequent lack of recognition of Welsh territoriality and identity by business, government and much of civil society is quite shocking when compared with Scotland for example.

It is a banal yet insidious and highly damaging example of the routine colonization of daily life in Wales by an Anglocentric British mindset which perceives Wales as far away, peripheral and therefore unimportant, with results that are fairly obvious to anyone who cares to look.

alsa123 said...

One thing that always grates on me is the sheer lack of banks and building societies even that don't represent Wales! I mean look at Scotland where its three national banks have helped create jobs, and most importantly an identity. Imagine Welsh banknotes in Welsh shops, what an impact that would have on the Welsh psyche, and would really foster a new sense of nationalist feeling like it has done in Scotland for years now!

Unknown said...

Yes, as well as employing such national symbols as the flag and flying it at every opportunity we need to think of other ways of asserting identity. My ideas include abolishing English placenames where they are crude derivations of an original Welsh name. Another is to object to any implication of regional status wherever it occurs. Wales is a nation, not a region. Thirdly the name "Cymru" may be used to replace "Wales" which is a foreign appellation. Another is to identify oneself as Welsh, rather than British, which has has been filched to describe the amorphous "British" nation. I could go on....
Water wears down the stone, and every little helps.

Alan in Dyfed