Loyal Welsh Show

The Welsh seem to be doing pretty well at sport recently. Having thumped England at rugby at the weekend, we also have a Welsh holder of the Tour de France crown. When Aaron Ramsey moves to Juventus next season he will become only the second Brit after Gareth Bale to be playing top-flight football abroad: both are Welshmen.

Unfortunately, such success seems to have done little for Welsh confidence. Last week a celebrity chef did a TV show and got some things wrong about Welsh geography. Welsh Twitter went mental, which is what prompted the Times article I responded to on Friday. This is how one person on Twitter reacted:


This are not the words of someone who is comfortable being Welsh. If a huge part of your identity is dependent on what other people think of you, you’re not very confident as a people. I’ve often thought that if the English suddenly disappeared in a puff of smoke, the Irish would have to invent new ones: as Brexit has shown, they simply can’t imagine themselves without referring to the great oppressor next door. By contrast, can you imagine a Frenchman caring that a Brit got their geography completely wrong? Or a Dutchman being cross that nobody seems to know the difference between Holland and The Netherlands? If anything they’d laugh.

Alas, it seems the Welsh have looked at the Irish and Scots and decided there is political mileage in seeking offence and victim-status. Over the course of my Twitter conversations I heard numerous references to English “colonisers”, and Wales being little more than a colony of England, a view which casually overlooks that the Welsh and English have been politically, economically, and socially integrated pretty much since William the Conqueror. It appears the nationalist movement is a lot stronger than when I was growing up, and people like me who are happy for Wales to be part of the UK are denounced as “Brit Nats” (this term was new to me).

I asked a few people what the economic basis of an independent Wales would be. One said that water would be the strategic resource underpinning the exchequer, if only Wales were allowed to charge full price for it. Now I know the giant Welsh reservoirs supply plenty of English homes, but I’m not sure a London government would just cave in to a Dai Putin threatening to turn off the supply; more likely, they’d ship a few economics textbooks to Cardiff and build more reservoirs. Whatever the cost and inconvenience, England will not die of thirst without Wales. Then I got this response:


While it is true that Wales produces a lot of electricity which is sent to England, Siberia produces lots of gas which is sent to Moscow. You produce where it is convenient and you send it to where it is needed. Wales hoarding electricity makes no more sense than Siberians hoarding gas. There’s also the problem that most of the electricity generated in Wales comes from coal and gas-fired stations. Both are imported fuels, so basically Wales serves as the place to house the turbines. This is an interesting definition of a country being “energy rich”. Alas, I expect my correspondents above have no idea how electricity is generated; they’ve just seen that Welsh power stations export to England and think it represents a geopolitical advantage which could underpin an independent nation. That England could build its own power stations (green idiocy notwithstanding) and import coal Australian coal and Qatari gas directly doesn’t seem to have occurred to them.

Having been through the mill of Welsh nationalist Twitter over the past few days, I am happy about the rugby result but I think a chef making a goof on a TV show is the least of their problems.

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23 thoughts on “Loyal Welsh Show

  1. To be independent either of Scotland or Wales would need to be able to give credible answers to the issues of:
    1. Which currency?
    2. Who is the central bank / lender of last resort?
    3. If you currently run a deficit, how will you eliminate it or finance it?
    There’s a gajillion other issues to solve but these 3 are show stoppers for lefty aspirant leavers. You can have independence or socialism but not both. The taffs and porridge wogs are welfare benefit sinkholes compared to England and show no prospect whatever of fixing this in advance of any putative departure. And therefore a putative departure straight to a Venezuelan outcome.

  2. Wales hoarding electricity makes no more sense than Siberians hoarding gas

    It makes even less sense because there is currently no meaningful way to store electricity for later sale. At least with gas you can keep it in the ground (I think).

    (green idiocy notwithstanding) and import coal Australian coal

    Don’t underestimate green idiocy. Adani (Indian company, hoping to export coal for Indian thermal plants) have been trying to open a new coal mine in Australia for ten years, passed every hurdle, ready to break ground, have just been done over again for a review of a bird species. A finch of some kind I believe. Good luck importing Australian coal. You’re looking at a generation worth of effort just to be allowed to dig it out.

    Mind you, maybe heaps of it is available on the open market (it’s still a major export earner) and this is just a ‘who we’re selling to’ thing. Not my field so I really don’t know.

  3. We are getting ahead of ourselves in talking about ‘The Welsh’. A few bell ends on Twitter is not the way to judge the national mood.

    I reckon that 90% of Taffs wouldn’t give a toss about James Martin’s mistakes and that only 1% of those who were annoyed were bothered (and pathetic) enough to make a fuss. But social media exaggerates everything, especially the stupid and intemperate.

    Plaid Cymru gets about 10% of the votes in Wales. Welshies have collectively only the vaguest interest in independence and their “hate” of the English extends only as far as being really happy about beating us at rugby.

    A few mates of mine were at the rugby in Cardiff and they said it was all jolly, everyone got lashed and there was barely a cross word. As is always the case.

    I have been travelling to Tim’s home county for the holidays for more than 30 years. In that time I have noticed no difference in attitude towards the English.

    I’ve also never heard anyone say “Hwlfford”!

  4. We are getting ahead of ourselves in talking about ‘The Welsh’. A few bell ends on Twitter is not the way to judge the national mood.

    That’s true. I probably shouldn’t take this stuff as representative.

  5. Plaid Cymru gets about 10% of the votes in Wales.

    Once upon a time, so did the SNP (probably)

    Hypothesis: empire kept a lid on the UK’s internal contradictions/rivalries/hatreds, and now they’re all bubbling up

  6. A friend has a very old school scottish governess for their kid. That lady supported leaving the UK as the only way to get the Scots to stop blaming other people and focus on making things better. So long as you can blame someone else and cadge off them society was only going to get worse.

  7. >Hypothesis: empire kept a lid on the UK’s internal contradictions/rivalries/hatreds, and now they’re all bubbling up

    I think this is an interesting point. I used to spend a lot of time working in Lebanon in my early 30s; my biggest clients there were a Druze family. I used to spend a lot of time with their eldest son, Nader, who was a great guide to the idiosyncrasies of the Levant.

    One of his, many, sayings was: “the Levant against the world, Lebanon against the Levant, the Druze against the Lebanese, my tribe against the Druze, my village against the tribe, my family against the village, my father against my family, my brothers against my father, me against my brothers”

    Basically, in the absence of an extant “higher level” row, he would just default to the next layer of argument to ensure he had a conflict to keep him entertained!

  8. “I reckon that 90% of Taffs wouldn’t give a toss about James Martin’s mistakes and that only 1% of those who were annoyed were bothered (and pathetic) enough to make a fuss. But social media exaggerates everything, especially the stupid and intemperate.”

    I agree. I visit (Welsh) friends in Ha’fford (as I’m told the locals call Haverfordwest) on a regular basis and detect no undercurrent of anti-English sentiment, apart from loving stuffing one up the English at Rugby of course. My sister farms further north, above Carmarthen, in a more Welsh speaking area, and she’s got on fine there as an ‘incomer’, she’s involved in all the local social activities, my niece and nephew can speak Welsh thanks to being looked after by a local farmer’s wife once a week, who talks to them in Welsh. And they are schooled in Welsh too.

    Twitter should be avoided at all costs, its a sewer.

  9. . I visit (Welsh) friends in Ha’fford (as I’m told the locals call Haverfordwest)

    That’s exactly what they call it. Nobody calls it bloody Hwlffordd.

  10. As a Canadian I find this fascinating as it mirrors our issues with the French-speaking ethnic minority in Quebec almost exactly.

  11. “hypothesis: empire kept a lid on the UK’s internal contradictions/rivalries/hatreds, and now they’re all bubbling up”

    It’s really about mutual defence. You build a gang that protect each other in a village, then a county, then a kingdom, then England. No stealing from each other or raping the women in the next village. All sorts of technology allowed all that to happen. Eventually, you get huge boats around the Tudor era and war good further and England expands to be the UK by various means. It helps to have the men in skirts fighting for us rather than with the French. We make sure they’re looked after in return.

    The problem is when war goes away, people
    down south start wondering why we should look after the men in skirts.

    This is a problem most of the West is going to have to face. When the reason a country came together goes, what happens to that country. Could we go back to countries the size of the old heptarchy? I don’t see why not. Switzerland has 10m peoplee and doors great. Why not Mercia?

  12. The real objective of independence is to get your hands on the tax code. Abolish this tax, abolish that one, lower the rest and draft a constitution which makes it practically impossible for professional politicians to innovate in tax matters. Otherwise independence is not worth having.

    As for currency, why would a Welsh pound be worse than the English one? After all, they’re just pieces of paper with pretty designs on them.

  13. >I’m not sure a London government would just cave in to a Dai Putin threatening to turn off the supply

    Actually, they probably would these days, the Welsh would cry oppression and the government would fall over themselves in their haste to do whatever the Welsh wanted.

  14. I’m not sure about Wales but I know that in the Dunfermline region of Scotland, three out of four jobs are working for the UK Government. My tax office was located there and under various governments, many “Jobs for the Scots” were created or transferred there as a policy to keep them quiet.

    That, and the awarding of the two aircraft carriers (HMS Ocean) to commercial shipyards on the Clyde who had not built warships before in preference to closing down Swan Hunters on Tyneside which has a long experience and expertise in warship design and construction. At the time, I was working for a company next to the Swan Hunter yard and watched them building a huge brand new Unemployment Office opposite the gates of Swan Hunters while the Government decided where to award the contract. Handy that, eh?

    If Scotland gained independence then it is likely that those jobs would be repatriated back to England, along with Faslane and other critical facilities which it would be foolish to allow to remain in a foreign countries hands. Plus offloading a proportion of the public debt onto the newly independent nation based, I suppose on population percentages.

    The double whammy of an immediate drop in cash flowing from England to those civil servants and the burden of their share of national debt means that the newly independent nation would need to get its finances in order PDQ. And no, you cannot use the English pound as the default currency and insist on England bailing out the resulting financial mess.

    As I said, I am not sure of the pork barrelling that Wales enjoys but “Down with the English and freedom from their oppression” may result in, shall we say, unforeseen consequences which are, if you think about it, entirely foreseeable. Which will, of course, be touted as the English being vindictive.

    Be careful what you wish for … it might be granted to you.

  15. “Plaid Cymryu only receive 10% of the votes”. Who remembers the slogans, “Come home to a real fire. Buy a holiday cottage in Wales” and the “Free Wales” posters, on which some wags would add “with every 4 gallons”?
    My (English) daughter lives in Wales and keeps getting me to move there as she enjoys the social life and friendly people there, notwithstanding her insistence on wearing an England rugby shirt during their matches. Also, the house prices and cost of living is much cheaper than the south of England

  16. As a Canadian I find this fascinating as it mirrors our issues with the French-speaking ethnic minority in Quebec almost exactly.

    Yes, they seem to have pioneered this crap. We’re not quite as extreme as that yet, but we’re getting there.

  17. “Wales is energy rich”

    Which would of course explain Wales’ position as a major power on the global stage. Ask the first twenty people you see on a New York City street where Wales is on a map. None will know.

    “But basically there is no point reasoning with a failed blogger like Tim.”

    You’ve failed to honor and placate another ineffectual whiner, I take it? You should be ashamed. (Although, maybe not – typing those words might well be the most empowering experience she’s had. Twitter seems to be full of people like that.)

  18. What’s to stop an independent Scotland and Wales declaring the pound sterling to be an accepted currency? Why all theses panic attacks over money?

    Montenegro doesn’t have a national currency; they just use the Euro.

  19. “What’s to stop an independent Scotland and Wales declaring the pound sterling to be an accepted currency? ”

    Nothing, and it would probably be a good idea to take the country’s money supply out of the gift of politicians, which is why they’d never consider it, other than in a crisis, when there is no alternative.

  20. Kerdasi

    It’s never a good idea to borrow money in someone else’s currency: things can get sticky very fast when you need to repay, the fx rate is going against you and you can’t print them yourself.

  21. Switzerland has 10m peoplee and doors great. Why not Mercia?

    While I’m very supportive of the idea, I have to point out that Switzerland has serious natural borders, and Mercia does not. So it might get a little tricky.

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