I once did a series of workshops at a school in the Vale of Glamorgan. In one classroom was a globe and on it Wales simply didn't exist! The name of 'Birmingham' covered the whole country.   The other weekend I stayed at a Guest House in London run mostly by Slovakians.I tried to explain to one where I was from.
   'Wales!' she looked at me curiously, as if I'd said 'Mars'.
   'We are different. England's here and Wales is here.' I help up two hands to show our geographical position.
   'Ah!.......Ireland!' she replied.
   I didn't bother to try and imitate Tom Jones. It was too early in the morning and my toast was about to pop.
   It took me back to W.Germany in the 1970s, when I had equal difficulty. My Ian Rush impersonations weren't that clever, especially as I had hair like Kevin Keegan except his was permed and mine natural.
   All this comes to me after a week when both Miliband and Clegg issued rallying cries in defence of the Union. Miliband argued that Britain must remain united because people in Glasgow and London suffer the same privations.
   He didn't go on to say that those in Athens and Madrid also struggle to exist because of the failures of austerity measures and the demise of capitalism. His theory doesn't hold up.
   For one, the SNP Government has attempted to make growth rather than cuts a priority, so the situations in Glasgow and London aren't the same. For another, the logical development of this is the advocacy of international socialism not British nationalism and I doubt Miliband would embrace that.
   Clegg's call for the UK to remain as one entity was much closer to traditional Tory British nationalism. When summing up 'our' shared history he immediately referred to past wars and the way people had fought and died together.
   This is the most common definition of Britain which avoids Empire and exploitation.
   It is the kind of negative and bellicose definition which Welsh nationalism has too often veered towards in the past. You have only to look at the less convincing poetry of Harri Webb and R. S. Thomas to realise that hatred of the English seems our abiding passion.
   Yet, if we are to have a genuine debate about independence, such as the referendum in Scotland has provoked, then we need to address this.
   For too long, we've seen ourselves in these negative terms: as what we aren't, rather than what we actually are.
   Narrow Anglophobia only leads to blame culture of the simplest kind. We must take responsibility for our own predicament, rather than continually fobbing it off onto the perceived enemy.
   Our self-confidence may have grown with the emergence of the Welsh Assembly, but we are still unable to shake off the legacy of being an internal colony.
   When our coal, iron, copper and then cheap labour economy all collapsed, to be replaced by limited light industry, public sector and retail, it only enhanced our feeling of dependence on British institutions.
   This is why the lesson of Tower Colliery need to be applied throughout Cymru. If the Tower miners could succeed as worker-owners and run their own pit for so long, then why can't such a structure be applied elsewhere?
   The most familiar comment by the many who doubt our ability to stand as a nation, is that we couldn't exist economically.
   Yet, you wonder if these people look around them now. Under Labour conditons barely improved, but under the present ConDem Gov. we are in a dire situation. Unemployment is rife and even a third of graduates getting jobs are filling posts they could have had after GCSEs!. Skilled workers and graduates' talents are totally wasted, leaving them bereft of hope.
   Benefits are cut and wages frozen. Town centres symbolize our plight : with pound shops, charity shops and pawnbrokers now familiar sights.
   I truly believe that a new vision for Wales - such as espoused by the likes of Leanne Wood in Plaid Cymru - would mean a gradual transformation of our economy, as we fully utilise the many skills available, control our natural resources and take complete charge of our infrastructure.
   We should learn from Scotland, but not rely on a single personality in the way Alex Salmond is seen to represent their desire for self-determination; for all his guile and charisma, he is a willing partner of Rupert Murdoch's media empire. Moreover, he is a pro-monarchist who would embrace NATO.
   We need to become a thoroughly modern democracy, with an elected President as representative ( as in Ireland, but less orientated towards the professional classes). We need to  express our anti-militarist tradition and distance ourselves from an organisation which seeks to interfere in the running of other countries through the use of force.
   We must not hold out for a future where water becomes our 'North Sea Oil'. Of course, our plentiful water and , indeed, energy potential, would be crucial, but far more important is the need to fully realise the many abilities of our people and ensure that they aren't forced to go elsewhere to use them.
   I want Cymru to be there on that globe, not overwritten by Birmingham. I want it to be a country recognizable in its own right, not mistaken for Ireland.
   I was not surprised that only 7% of the people polled last week favoured independence. If it seems an irrelevance to them, then I can  understand that . Yet the Tower experience tells us that we can do it if we believe and fight hard enough and, in our nagging uncertainty, we are definitely our own enemies.



                               SO  MUCH POWER

And the Lords refused to vote
for their own abolition.

Soldiers declined to admit
the pointlessness of every war.

The monarchy justified its credibility
by shaking, in gloves, the hands of the poor.

Bankers blamed the global crisis,
which had nothing to do with them.

The newspaper proprietor had so much power
he didn't know what was going on.

Celebs told their stories to reporters
then moaned about unnecessary intrusion.

Police wanted more guns to tackle crime
as they got away with killing.

Companies sold us dreams of machines
to take away any need for action.

Politicians brought inspectors in
to scrutinize everybody but them.


 


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