Thursday, 13 March 2008

Alas Goldsmith and Jones

Commentators on Lord Goldsmith’s review of citizenship have focused on a specific proposal, that schoolchildren should swear oaths of alliance to the Queen. The oaths, he said, would tackle a “dimunition in national pride” and address the divided nature of Britain. But polls and surveys about national identity suggest nationalism in Britain is not necessarily diminishing, but rather changing and evolving. Take a walk in Cardiff Bay and you will see the Senedd building and the Wales Millennium Centre – two monuments in the Welsh capital to a changing Wales.

Whereas some national groups define themselves on primarily ethnic grounds Wales’ emerging identity is rooted in these new institutions. A Welsh ethnic category does not exist and neither does a British one, except in the minds of a few at the extremes. British identity in more modern times has often been wedded to the British/English/UK state and to the promotion of democracy at home and abroad.

But there are now democratic institutions in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales and these have had tangible effects on the nations they represent. Recent coverage of the Welsh Assembly Government’s decision to phase out hospital car park charges show the UK media are slowly beginning to report the differences arising within the UK nations. There have been faults and Freudian slips that reveal a concerning ignorance of UK events. More than one UK broadsheet newspaper has in the past year mistakenly referred to July 1, 2007, as the date of the ‘UK smoking ban’, missing the fact that Wales and Scotland banned smoking in public places earlier.

When George Bush made his 'you're either for us or against us' speech about terrorism, a lot of people decided they were against 'us' not because of the attractiveness of the opposition but the unattractiveness of 'us'. The measures proposed by Lord Goldsmith could well have the similar, unintended effect of alienating anyone who does not wish to swear allegiance to the Queen. What is needed is a better, less polarised debate about what the union is and where it is going.

6 comments:

the concerned welshman 13 March 2008 at 19:58  

Does IWJ have anything useful to say? He's always very selective when it comes to proposals.

If we are to take his cheap stunt regarding the payrise seriously he should donate this money every year from now on from his salary and deducts the amount from his pension when he retires. I very much doubt he will do this.

I also doubt Mr. Jones needs the money. Despite Plaid's policy on second homes, official records reveal that he has two proprerties in Cardiff, a property in London and partly ownes a property in France.

Ian 14 March 2008 at 00:41  

The 'concerned Welshman' is typical of many UK nationalists who have been critical of Plaid AMs refusing the huge pay rise, in recognition of the public sector pay cuts suffered by thousands.

Surely, they should take their blinkers off and criticise the London Labour Government who forced through these pay cuts in the first place?

Unless of course such issues do not bother them.

Anonymous 14 March 2008 at 09:22  

Ian,

You mean they are typical of people who don't share your views and the views of your party.

Miss Wagstaff 14 March 2008 at 09:41  

On the subject of a payrise, the Plaid members have set an awkward precedent for themselves. This will lead to much trouble in future years, unless the 'payrise' is cancelled by the Assembly this time round. If it isn't, what they are proposing is difficult to manage and open to public scrutiny.

Personally, if I were of the same opinion regarding the payrise, I would've stated that I would donate the money to charity for the remainder of this Assembly i.e be more specific (I'm sure that someone will correct me if they have already done this).

Anonymous 14 March 2008 at 13:44  

Elin Jones I think is donating her payrise to charity of some sort for rest of this term.

The Assembly would have saved themselves a lot of hassle if they'd have agreed to the payrise following the next election. By doing so they could with a clear concience have said that the payrise was for the post not for themselves as noone is guaranteed a seat post-2011.

It would also have been better if Plaid had backed DET and said, if you beleive the Assembly needs to attract high-caliber candidates and recognise the CHANGE in job remit then the rise was justified. It's not a wage rise, it's a band rise. To use public sector-speak used by Plaid lefties, it's the equlivlent of someone being promoted from teacher to deputy-head teacher. It's not a wage rise as such. Would the public expect someone with the same responsibilities as as deputy head receive the same wage as a teacher with no added responsibilities.

Plaid have played a weak hand badly here. If they want more power for the Assembly and for Wales they've got to make the case as stop being so blatantly oppportunistic.

Anonymous 14 March 2008 at 23:01  

anon- you are clearly alun davies in disguise. get over yourself for god's sake.

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