Friday, September 02, 2016

Musical Interlude

This is a great song.  Perhaps there should be something similar for elderly Welsh nationalists completely at odds with the current direction of the movement.

Monday, July 04, 2016

Post Referendum Blues

Class - do you remember the 20th century when class and/or nationalism dominated the discourse.  No wonder the elites encouraged us to concentrate on less dangerous causes such as gender or race. War was still fine of course, as long as the slaughter was aimed at the unpeople, those countries that didn't fall in with the globalist world view. Yet in the homelands, the US and the EU, "progressives" became obsessed with minorities of one kind or another, to ideas that posed no threat whatsoever to the elites.

This is why the Leave vote is a bit of a turn up, because suddenly those 20th century issues are back on the agenda. Look at this piece from the Spectator highlighting the class nature of the vote:

"The Brexiteer/Remainer divide splits almost perfectly, and beautifully, along class lines. Of local authorities that have a high number of manufacturing jobs, a whopping 86 per cent voted Leave. Of those bits of Britain with low manufacturing, only 42 per cent did so. Of local authorities with average house prices of less than £282,000, 79 per cent voted Leave; where house prices are above that figure, just 28 per cent did so. Of the 240 local authorities that have low education levels — i.e. more than a quarter of adults do not have five A to Cs at GCSE — 83 per cent voted Leave. Then there’s pay, the basic gauge of one’s place in the pecking order: 77 per cent of local authorities in which lots of people earn a low wage (of less than £23,000) voted Leave, compared with only 35 per cent of areas with decent pay packets."

How the "progressives" hate it.  People who haven't been to university deciding their future!

Wales - another 20th century discourse making something of a comeback after the Brexit vote is Welsh independence.  Not independence as might be understood by Americans or Icelanders or most other free peoples but "independence in Europe" by which is meant a desire to be on board the EU train, destination unknown.

Five local authorities in Wales voted to Remain, three following the British pattern (yes British not English vide East Renfrew etc.) of wealthier areas voting for the status quo - the Vale, Monmouth and Cardiff.  In Gwynedd and Ceredigion the Welsh language is said to have played a part, although I  do wonder about the influence of the university vote.

What is clear is that a segment of Welsh society we might characterise as the clerks voted strongly for Remain.  By this I mean people who work, directly or indirectly, for the state in non-manual occupations.  In their pique at being outvoted by the great unwashed we see elements of this clerkish class rallying to the cause of  Welsh independence, not as a worthwhile aim in itself but as a means of remaining inside a club which they see as protective of their economic interests.  I can't see this enthusiasm lasting very long.

Meanwhile the Leave majority are told they are stupid or racist or ungrateful for all that EU largese.  Seriously the clerks need to go on some sort of refresher course on engaging with folk who don't share their enthusiasms.

Scotland - according to the polls around a third of SNP voters opted for Leave.  Here's an interesting fact, the most pro-Remain councils were hardly hotbeds of separatism.  Edinburgh 74% Remain, 39% Indy; East Renfrew 74% Remain, 37% Indy and East Dunbarton 71% Remain, 39% Indy.

Now perhaps there will be enough Remainers who are so enamoured of the EU that they'll dump their unionism and help win a second Indy referendum. Maybe.  What then?  An independent Scotland will have to negotiate its membership of the club.  It will have to adopt the Euro and some of those Operation Fear scares might actually become real - tariffs on trade with the English market, a real border with customs and passport control.  Oh and its doubtful if Scotland would be allowed membership if it dumped Nato - so forget about closing Holy Loch as well.  Would an SNP government put EU membership to the vote?  Would they win?

My own view is if Brexit happens, still a big if of course, then both Scotland and Ireland would have to forget the EU and enter a free trade area with Wales and England, that's the economic and geographic reality.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Lads in their Hundreds

When my father had his stroke he would wonder why I couldn't smell the pine oil being extracted from the trees at Holly Barn, his childhood home. We would talk about his father's visit on leave from the Great War and how his older brother had run away rather than face saying goodbye. For him it had happened just the other day.  I try to imagine what it must have been like to have to return to the trenches after a brief spell at home.

There was no home leave in my father's war, he sailed from Glasgow in the Queen Mary to eventually arrive in Egypt and on to Italy. He didn't make it back until 1946. Before he left his grandfather, who lost three sons in the Great War, had shook his hand and said they'd likely not meet again.

There was no great European war for my generation and for that we are asked to thank the EU and show our gratitude by voting to remain inside the community. I'm not so sure. How do the people of Serbia or Libya or the Donbas feel about that? Why do so few see the dangers of war with Russia, provoked in part by the EU and especially by what might be termed its military wing - Nato?

I voted to leave in 1975 and will do so again. This means sharing a bed with Empire loyalists, British nationalists, 1950s nostalgists etc. but so what. Look at the company the decent folk on the pro side have to keep, the warmongers and neoliberal elites, it's a wonder the stench doesn't overpower them.

Of course Plaid Cymru think that they can reform the EU from inside, well good luck with that. I believe that there is a very faint chance of the Welsh nation surviving outside the EU and none at all within, although this may be moot given the West's eagerness for confrontation with the East.

Friday, February 19, 2016

The Irish Slave Myth

In 1968, presumably in a spirit of revolutionary fervour, I bought a hardback book entitled Celtic Nationalism.  It hardly lived up to the times, consisting of two pedestrian contributions from Gwynfor Evans and Hugh Macdiarmid while more than half the book was taken up with an academic essay on, mainly, 19C Irish nationalism by Owen Dudley Edwards.  One thing I did gather from the book was that there had been an element of pro-slavery, anti-black racism within Irish nationalism, especially in the writings of John Mitchel and Arthur Griffith

Fast forward  half a century and we find a Limerick historian, Liam Hogan, valiantly attempting to stem the myth of Irish slavery - a popular and growing meme, especially in the United States.  This meme, either through ignorance, me-too-victimhood or out and out dishonesty and anti-black racism, equates chattel slavery with indentured servitude.  You can read Hogan's ongoing debunking of the myth - in 5 parts, starting here or here.

The Growth in Social Media Mentions of the Irish Slave Myth - from Hogan

Not the least disservice performed by this pervasive myth is to cast a shadow over the very real historical sufferings of the Irish people while providing ammunition for her enemies.  Only last week there was a small example of a Scottish writer's reasonable comment on the Highland Clearances being equated by anti-SNP voices as if it were a Scottish appropriation of the slave myth.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Goodbye Wales

Can oblivious Wales please never again mention its historic links to Hughesovka, a city - nowadays called Donetsk - frequently shelled by what purports to be its own government and whose president boasts that its children must cower in cellars instead of going to school.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Off My Chest

It seems I haven't blogged for a month.  Not sure why, perhaps a sense of impending doom - certainly I'm not looking forward to the Assembly elections or the Euro vote.  What a choice we have with the Euro vote. Brexit means more Nato, more TTIP but then so does staying in EU.  My preference would be an independent Wales outside both of these organisations, but no-one's campaigning for that.  On balance Brexit at least allows the possibility of extracting Wales from the union.  After all Scotland was allowed a referendum.  If you think that Brussels would ever permit the emergence of new states then you're deluded.  I think Plaid supporters are also deluding themselves if they think that this year's Assembly election will prove be a breakthrough.

Foyles on the Wye

It shows how out of touch I am with local affairs that I only recently learnt - from Jacothenorth's admirable blog - that the Maesllwch Arms has, with the help of public money, been rebranded as Foyles of Glasbury.  The old pub took its name from the nearby gentry house, originally occupied by a branch of the Vaughan family but which passed through many hands before being purchased in 1772 by Walter Wilkins of Brecon; a man who had made his fortune in India where he was governor of Chittagong.  In the 19C the house was rebuilt as Maesllwch Castle and the Wilkins family itself adopted the surname De Winton - they never felt the need to rename their seat though.

I can't say I'm much vexed by this rebranding, the Welsh Government's investment might even prove worthwhile in terms of local employment.  It's interesting that of the 19 living-in servants at the Castle in 1871 only 4 were locals, so any improvement on that would be a bonus.  These minor symptoms of anglicisation mask a deeper malaise - a national party that's afraid to offend the liberal wing of imperialism springs to for example.

Back in the early 70s I would occasionally frequent a then cluttered Foyles bookshop, a look at my book case shows some slim volumes of Anglo-Welsh poetry purchased there along with a Soviet book on the National Question.  I never purchased an expensive and heavy four volume facsimile set of the Poor Man's Guardian although I was sorely tempted on each visit.  Interestingly radicalism is so out of fashion nowadays those four books are relatively cheap on the second-hand market, certainly my Welsh language rock albums seem to have proved a far better investment.

I can never say I felt comfortable at Foyles, much the same feeling as I experience in the bookshops of Hay - it's all far too foreign.  Foyles of Glasbury should do well if it attracts the same clientele.

The Markets

There was a time when a poor man could make a small living by playing the markets.  You bought Investors Chronicle and checked out the expected results for the week ahead.  Then you got up at the crack of dawn, looked for a company that had exceeded expectations and instructed your broker to buy.  Later in the day the big boys would move in and the following day's papers would drag in smaller buyers.  This was the sign to sell and the beauty of the settlement date in those days meant you didn't even have to touch your bank account - instead your broker would send you a cheque.

You could even reassure yourself that you were performing a  socially useful function by providing liquidity to the market. The stock market itself resolved the contradiction between the borrower who wanted long term funds at the lowest possible cost and the investor who desired immediate access to their money combined with historically high returns.  In the same way the options and futures markets provided a degree of certainty to the real economy with the help of speculators.  That was then.  Today the speculators have taken over at the expense of the real economy and the tax-payer who foots the bill for their gambles.  These people should have been burnt a decade ago (another argument in favour of capitalism was that the stupid should go to the wall) but instead they were bailed out.

Eleanor Bull

While checking out that Foyles of Glasbury nonsense I came across Eleanor Bull, in whose house the playwright and poet Christopher Marlowe was killed.  Of course Wikipedia describes her as an English woman although Clifford where she was born was a Welsh speaking parish in the 16C.  Was she the niece or great niece of Queen Elizabeth's confidante Blanche Parry?  If her mother was Sybil Parry as the article says then she was a niece.  Eleanor's family background, the Whitneys, the Parrys, the Vaughans were all bardic patrons.  Her grandmother/great grandmother Alice Milbourne was an exception being described by the bard Hywel Dafi as a tall, aging girl of Rowena's seed, advising her future husband to chose a slim 20 year old Welsh girl rather than the daughter of the Englishman of the Shire.  The late John Davies described the Herefordshire borderlands as being a Welsh irredenta, it deserves more attention.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Matters Arising

I read this in the introduction to the Penybont book mentioned in the last post:

"King Harold Godwin's territorial interests near our area ensured that the Norman power which replaced him was soon active nearby.  There followed a period of nearly 500 years during which the largely unrestrained authority of the Marcher Lords, and our area especially the Mortimer family, was matched by successive waves of resurgence led by Welsh leaders from other parts of Wales.."

Now this suggests that the 1500 or so households that made up the cantref of Maelienydd had no agency of their own in resisting the Norman incursions.  Of course this isn't true as a browse through Brut y Tywysogion would soon make clear.  Some examples: in 1136 Madog ab Idnerth and his sons were among the leaders in the battle of Crug Mawr in Ceredigion; in 1165 the sons of Madog ab Idnerth and their host were present at the victory over King Henry at the battle of Crogen; in 1262 the men of Maelienydd seized the castle of Cefnllys - they did so again in 1295 - and, of course, the men of Maelienydd were central to the victory at Bryn Glas in 1402.

The sad truth is that Rhwng Gwy a Hafren is largely ignored or misrepresented by Welsh historians, indeed I'd say that you have to turn to an Englishman -  and a UKIP parliamentary candidate to boot - for anything more than a very superficial view of the history of this strategically important part of Wales.


I've only seen a few minutes of this programme but I was interested to read the claim that 18% of Welsh men were descended from just ten men, probably chieftains, born more than a thousand years ago.  Of course that has quite fairly been met with a degree of scepticism although I wouldn't be surprised if it were true.  Some of the scepticism took the form of denying the accuracy of the older Welsh genealogies.  The 15C genealogies were in reality Welsh legal records and it smacks of a colonial mentality to dismiss them while accepting English records without question.  Later on the genealogies did indeed become more corrupted, one of my favourite Welsh couplets is this from Sion Tudur (d1602):

Ar frys arfau a roesom,
Arfau ei dad fu raw dom

How speedily we bestow coats of arms, his father's coat of arms was a shovel of shit.

No Mug For Me 

The Penybont book also covers Llandegley and to a lesser extent Crossgates.  According to the powers that be the Welsh language versions of these two names are Llandeglau and Y Groes.  Since Llandegle was good enough for Lewis Glyn Cothi shouldn't we resist the imposition of that North Wales AU ending.  As for Y Groes, that's a very recent invention and perhaps we'd be better going back to calling the village Llanbadarn Fawr.  It seems that Crossgates was itself an invention of the 19C Post Office, fed-up with confusion with the Aberystwyth suburb of the same name.

The first four or five terms of my education were actually spent in Llanbadarn Fawr school, not the modern building in the village, but the old school nearer Penybont.  How did I get there from the Gravel Road?  I've no memory of walking along the A44 and we certainly didn't have a car.  Perhaps approaching senility will unlock such lost childhood memories.  I'm not sure if I've actually recovered from the trauma of not receiving a Coronation mug from the good folk of Crossgates in 1953.  Gravel Road is in Nantmel parish the organisers of the celebration explained, meanwhile the Nantmel committee insisted it was located in Llanbadarn Fawr.  Years later, poring over an old map, I discovered that my old home was actually in an outlier of distant Llanddewi Ystradenni.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Radnorshire in Print

Spotted a couple of Radnorshire related books on sale this Christmastide

and this colourful and well-illustrated publication.

Star Spangled Mayhem

I thought this must be a parody but after googling a few of the crimes listed discovered it was real:

It's a mistake to think this is just about the guns though, it's about a society with more problems than just firearm availibility.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Mr Wigley goes to Riga

Dafydd Wigley, who was recently in Latvia, has produced an article extolling the virtues of EU membership for this small Baltic nation, you can read it here.

Around 35%* of the population of Latvia, Mr Wigley tells us, are ethnic Russians, the consequence of  "attempts by Stalin to erode their national identity by flooding Latvia with Russian immigrants."  I'm not sure if this is completely true. Certainly only around 9% of the pre-war Latvian population were ethnic Russian, rising to 27% by the end of the 1950s; but then 21% of the Welsh population in the 2011 census were born in England and this population movement can't be laid at the door of a Stalin.  The Latvian in-migration was the result of the opening of factories in places such as Daugavpils and the higher standard of living found in the Baltic states.  No doubt Latvian nationalists would,argue that these factories should not have been sited in the republic.  It's also claimed that in the 1980s many released criminals from elsewhere in the Soviet Union found their way to the republic, something which could never happen here in Wales, of course.

Around 12% of the Latvian population, mainly those of Russian descent find themselves in the position of being non-citizens and thus deprived of various rights, including the right to vote.  This non-citizenship can apply not only to those born in the old Soviet Union but also to their children born in Latvia itself.  Citizenship can be obtained by passing examinations in Latvian language and state-approved history. In the days before the BBC went full Russophobe they even highlighted examples of these second class Latvian citizens.

I wonder if anyone in Wales would welcome following the Latvian example - Welsh as the sole official language and voting rights denied to migrants and their offspring unless they learnt Welsh and passed a government approved history test?

While highlighting the benefits of EU membership the subsequent decline in Latvian population is only hinted at by Mr Wigley - a 10% drop in population since joining in 2004.

Mr Wigley was also in the news this week calling for an end to the character assassination of Saunders Lewis. I certainly agree with Mr Wigley on this.  Lewis seemingly foresaw a clash between a Fascist British state and the Welsh working class.  In that event, as the Western Mail reported, he was clearly on the side of the Left: "It is possible that there would be bloodshed in South Wales if there was a Fascist Government. In such a case the Nationalist Party must take sides with the popular masses of Wales against Fascist dictatorship."

In Latvia of course this stand point was obviously put to the test, with hundreds of Latvian nationalists participating in the murder of Jews and others.  Instead of confronting this past the Latvian government seeks to dilute these killings by claiming that Soviet repressions also constituted a genocide, indeed Latvia has passed a law imposing sentences of five years imprisonment for denial of the Communist's "genocide".

Instead of acting as a crossroads between Russia and Europe, Latvia has chosen to be at the frontline of a new Cold War.  Nato mouthpieces continually warn of (wish for?) Russian military intervention in the Baltic states and any unhappiness amongst the Russian speaking minority is blamed on Moscow meddling rather than Riga's own discriminatory policies.

* The 2014 census says 26% are ethnic Russians

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Remembrance Day

Every now and then I look at this page. It contains details of the YPJ fighters killed during the last year or so combating the British elite's favourite cult. Sadly, the list grows longer week by week.  Every year our own  remembrance day seems to get more pervasive and even bigoted.   Meanwhile the women of the YPJ really are fighting for liberty and freedom - something that wasn't true for most of Britain's wars.

I do hope that the Syrian Kurds resist American pressure to launch an attack on the ISIS capital of Raqqa.  The sensible move would be to link up the cantons of Rojava and Afrin which would cut off the Islamist supply lines from their Turkish allies.  Raqqa is overwhelmingly Sunni and Arab, so Kurdish involvement wouldn't be welcomed - it's not as if the Americans have even seen fit to supply the Syrian Kurds with decent weaponry over the last year.  There is a largely non-Islamist Sunni Arab force which could eventually take Raqqa, Assad's Syrian Army - of course that wouldn't fit in with Western plans at all.

*   *   *   *   *

Ever heard of Kate Evans?  In 1921 she was imprisoned for seven years for her part in smuggling explosives from the South Wales coalfield to Ireland.  A member of the Dowlais Irish community her Breconshire born husband David Humphrey Evans received a similar sentence.  I believe they were quietly released after the signing of the Anglo-Irish treaty, what became of them in later years?

This also led me to looking into the names of members of Cumann na mBan killed during the Easter rising of 1916.  According to Wikipedia "A number of Cumann na mBan members died in the Rising" and this gets repeated word for word elsewhere on the net.  In fact there is a properly researched list of all those killed in the Rising which can be found here.  Although a good number of civilian women were killed during the crossfire, there appear to be no women listed amongst the republican dead.  If anyone knows any different please comment below.