Thursday 22 November 2007

Beyond the Vale

In the 16th Century, as part of the colonization of Ireland under the English Crown ‘plantations’ were established where English & Scottish settlers were placed to displace the local population. While only partially successful in the ‘Pale’ of Dublin, this tactic was very effective in Ulster, and which ultimately led to ‘the Troubles’ and the partition of Ireland.

A similar tactic was also used in Wales, most notably in South Pembrokeshire, where Flemish settlers were used to displace and dilute the local Welsh speaking population, and the linguistic divide is still very apparent today.

While I sympathise with those who oppose the ‘University of Death’ at St Athan on pacifist grounds, I oppose it because it represents nothing more than a repeat of these earlier settlement tactics, brought forward to the modern day.

Peter Hain and the promoters of the scheme claim that it will bring 5,000 jobs to Wales and will be a huge boost to the local economy – not just in the Vale of Glamorgan but in neighbouring Cardiff and Bridgend. But lets look at this more objectively and ask what jobs will be created and who will fill them.

In the short term, around 1,000 construction jobs in will be created during building of the facilities, and while these will be mostly filled locally, they will only be temporary lasting no more than two years.

Of the permanent jobs, around 3,000 will be filled by trainers, technicians, military support staff and civil servants. These jobs will not be filled locally, but will be transferred from existing military bases elsewhere in the UK, and many of the positions will be viewed as ‘expatriate’ postings.

Potentially 2,000 jobs could be filled locally, but these will be mostly low paid support jobs including cleaners, cooks, secretaries, administrative staff etc. While these jobs are better than none at all, they must be balanced against the fact that the incoming transferred staff will also be bringing their families, many of whom will be looking for work locally and these new job seekers will largely offset the new jobs created.

There will undoubtedly be a boost to the local economy as money is spent in shops & pubs, houses are rented etc but this will also increase prices and put a strain on local services and we can soon expect a vociferous minority to demand ‘English-curriculum’ schooling and opt-outs from Welsh lessons.

The local economic benefits from this project are questionable (incidentally I would also raise similar concerns about the proposed Severn Barrage), but this is not why the project is proposed.

This is simply a 21st Century Plantation - designed to dilute the local population and defuse nationalist sentiments.


Normal Mouth said...

A very strange post indeed.

It is reasonable to ask how many of the jobs will be filled by local labour, but it is odd indeed to suggest the proposed development some sort of dastardly bid to dilute Welshness of - of all places - the Vale of Glamorgan, home to such hotbeds of Nationalism as Cowbridge.

According to the 2001 census around 75% Vale residents were born in Wales, with a little under 19% of the remainder coming from England. This gives the Vale a higher proportion of English-born residents than many other areas in south Wales (higher for example than Cardiff or Newport).

That sounds like a highly unsuitable venue to commence some kind of policy of prima nocta in Wales.

landsker said...

I feel I must speak, in part, for those "Flemish settlers", my family has been in Pembrokeshire for centuries, and has intermarried with "real Welsh" people.
"Real Welsh people" who came here from mainland Europe, displacing the original Britons.
"Real Welsh", who actually have bred with Moors, Scandinavians, Irish, Saxons, Normans, and all manner of humans.

Along with most Pembrokians I really do tire of being called "less than Welsh", merely because we have chosen a separate tongue.
We resent the attempt at "linguistic cleansing", we have centuries of family history, all recorded in English.
Centuries of literature and art, all in the English language, yet we are no less Welsh than the Crachach of upper Cwmtwp.
A language, without which, I hasten to add, the creativity of such "Welsh" luminaries" as Dylan Thomas, T.E. Lawrence, Burton, Hopkins, and so on, would have never taken root in the world.
Then there are those pugilists such as Tommy Farr and Johnny Owen, singers such as Bassey and Jones, comedians like Cooper and Hope, all of whom, as far as I know, warmed the World with Albions flame.
Wales should celebrate the mastery of the english idiom, without which, we would be a far lesser people.
As to the insertion of a "defence academy" in the Vale, of course it should be opposed, but not on the basis of being "foreign", or non-Welsh, but on the basis of of being a despicable and destructive waste of national time.

Anonymous said...

This is just stupid. How the bloody hell will Wales survive your so called "independence" if you all refuse huge investments such as this and fail to adopt a highly educated high-tech research based economy?

Your repaired to demand all these things but you have no vision for sustainability or success. Your just fighting for the destruction of Wales.

Unknown said...

Sure, plantation politics coupled with divide and rule!

Jarvis Rockhall said...

Oooh dear...

I can smell the paranoia and even over the internet it really stinks.

As someone who is actually from the Vale I find this marginally insulting , not unlike those mid-walians who claim that south wales is not part of wales because the majority of people don't speak welsh.

Playing the linguistic tune is needlessly divisive, prejudiced and, frankly, bordering on racism.

If the Irish struggle for independence has taught us anything its that we have to remain unified and reject any needless divisions.

You do not need to speak welsh to be welsh.

You do not need to play rugby to be welsh.

You do not need to be christian to be welsh.

You don't need to be white to be welsh.

All that matters is loyalty to your fellow country men and women.

Unknown said...

I have just re-read my original posting, and I am not sure why the language issue and the 'more Welsh than thou' attitude has been raised.

I was not suggesting that the people of South Pembrokehsire or the Vale of Glamorgan are 'less than Welsh' just pointing out the historical fact that 'Plantations' are not new to Wales. This is a classical Divide-and-Rule tactic employed by the British Empire with varying degrees of succes throughout the world.

Incidentally my family are originally from Kilgetty (South of the Landsker) but I blame my lack of Cymraeg on my upbringing in Bridgend. I am I less Welsh than Alan or Hedd? - Hell no - and I will fight to my last breath anyone who tries to deny me my Welsh identity.

Wales is a billingual country with a mixed racial background - but one thing that we can all agree on is that we are all Welsh and we should be proud of it!

landsker said...

Ah, Penddu,
Kilgetty is just a few hours walk from Pendine, where I currently abide, though I grew up in Little Haven, which like Kilgetty, was once a "village of coal mines".
Back then, (`50s), we all knew of that most famous of Kilgetty women, the legendary Margie Lovell.
Mrs Lovell was a Romany, a true gypsy, who travelled, on foot and with pony cart, the paths and roads of West Wales, selling "lucky heather" and wooden clothes pegs.
She would, for a few silver coins also read palms and tell fortunes.
When she left this world, sometime in the early 60`s I believe, (perhaps you might know the year?) her family wanted to burn the body inside her caravan home, as was always their custom.
The local council fought and threatened, and I believe her body was taken and cremated "by the authorities."
However, the caravan mysteriously ignited at around the same time.....
Her descendents still live in Kilgetty today, though the caravans are somewhat larger, some have built houses, and the ponycarts have given way to trucks and vans, with the horses now bred for pleasure and show.
I hope I didn`t come across as xenophobic, but you know, we have thousands of Romanies here in Wales, and Italians too, Asians, Irish, Poles etcetera, and without the contribution of their culture and languages, we would be a far poorer place.

I would perhaps not use the term "plantation politics", but as we grasp at political and finacial control of our lands, I would describe the introduction of 5,000 supporters of madges armed forces as more like "Rule by garrison".
One of the points of Irish independence, was the removal of all british troops and military outposts.

Will Wales follow that example, or will we continue to bow and scrape in awe, for "the shilling of the crown."

Unknown said...

Landsker, It is indeed a small world. My mother has a friend in Cilgetti called Mair Lovell - maybe related??
But she doesnt live on the travellers camp near the roundabout, where the accents are mostly Irish tinker not Welsh Romany.

Way off topic now, but did you know that Welsh Romany is recognised as a different language/dialect than English Romany?

landsker said...

I didn`t know about the language, in fact, your question took me into all sorts of Google searching.
What a fascinating story it is, of how the Romanies came to Britain, of their persecution and of their cultures and families.
Some have intermarried with Irish travellers, many have given up the caravans.
Sadly perhaps, like so many minorities, their language has now been displaced by English.
As for the friend of your mam, it would indeed seem that she would be related to the earlier Lovells, I`m sure she would have many stories to tell.!

loki said...

rely t a post from landsker in nov....i've just joined so its all new to me. has to be said
erm...relating to this post stating that weslsh people came from mainland europe and displaced the britons. we are the britons u twonk! welsh is an english word used by the germanic settlers known as saxons to describe the native british populance way back when in them there dark ages.and it didn't just mean us out here in the west either. cymraeg is a britthonic language along with breton and cornish and until the 11th century so was cumbric. have you heard of the strathclyd welsh that the epic poem the godiddin relates to? or the lands of catraeth (now catterick]) in the kingdom of rheged. we are a seperate race but hey we all get on to an extent. its not about hating he english i don't. why should i. thy've been robbed of their heritage as much as we have and mostly for a rich aristocratic few to be able to call themselves British and give themselves a fictional heritage. lord bath springs to mind.
celt was a term coined in the 19th centuy by historians. it is a cultural not racial term. the romans new us as britons and they invaded long before the english did.

Fred Blogs said...

How do I order a beer in Welsh?