A Welsh voice for Lib Dems: Pob lwc i’r Democratiaid Rhyddfrydol

Mary Reid’s article about the Paralympics is a beautifully presented snap shot of where we are as a nation and the trail blazing role this country has played in changing global attitudes to disability.

Changing mainstream culture rarely happens organically or quickly and so often it is seemingly “small” things that get noticed and have the most effect. When compounded, lots of “small” things can become a game changing culture shift. The calling out of casual sexism, casual racism, casual homophobia over the past two decades plus, has led to an awareness of the responsibility we have as individuals to a wider consciousness. It’s worked.

Lib Dems living in Scotland or Wales will be bombarded by independence blurb on a daily basis. In the Boris Johnson era, it is increasingly difficult to defend a union where mutual respect has been eroded at the very top of government. Voices from the north and west of the UK are being ignored in Westminster, often quite rudely. Daily insults are notch up and seized upon by those with a nationalist agenda, and who can blame them?

Here in Wales, there is a (minority) acceptance that the mainstream culture of the English-speaking parts of the union are disrespectful, hostile and ignorant when it comes to Welsh language, culture and sensibility. Ignorant slurs are reported in minute detail on a daily basis here in the Welsh press because they strike at identity and self-esteem.

On the bright side, for every crass insult reported (and feverishly commented upon), there seems to be an equal alacrity for those which affirmatively recognise the uniqueness of Welsh language and culture. When Carol Vordeman or the new owner of Wrexham Football club tweet out in Welsh, there is excitement here that at least someone is noticing and relishing linguistic and cultural difference west of Offa’s Dyke.

Wouldn’t it be good if, from time to time, Lib Dem HQ communications recognised that we live in on a multi-lingual island and embraced all our official languages when messaging on national issues?  It would take a bit of effort, yes, but well-crafted Tweets in English, Welsh and Scots Gaelic could ultimately achieve more than a whole General Election campaign.

Lib Dems in Wales are small voices right now. (A hundred years ago, all 40 Welsh MPs were Liberal, they had a big voice.) Today our best bet is to focus on detail where it will be noticed and where it is possible to shift perception. To do this, there needs to be a change of consciousness across the wider Lib Dem organisation; a curiosity at federal level about national issues outside of the mainstream, leading to an informed celebration of diversity. Nationalism is a defining issue of the day and liberals could be leading with small casual actions coupled with big values based counter arguments. This happens well in some parts of the party but is by no means mainstream.

Language diversity would appear to be a blind spot in the Lib Dems. By adding  “Pob lwc” [good luck] to the Tweet in Mary’s article (or any similar communication) such a small act would have been clocked by 40,000+ people here in Wales. It would have been warmly noticed. It wouldn’t win us a seat in Westminster tomorrow but it could at least open up a willingness to engage with our messaging. A small first step.

 

 

* Hilton Marlton is the Welsh Lib Dem rep on Federal People Development Committee

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26 Comments

  • Brad Barrows 5th Sep '21 - 11:36am

    Excellent article. There needs to be proper recognition that the United Kingdom is a Union of nations and that the UK will only stay together if each country believes it’s identity, culture and prosperity are best protected by staying within. The current UK government seems to believe that trying to force ‘British’ identity on everyone, promoting ‘British’ culture etc, is the way to solidify the Union. I think the opposite is the case: if forced to have to choose between being ‘Scottish’ or ‘British’, most in Scotland would opt for ‘Scottish’ – I don’t know enough to have a view for Wales. However, my view is that the UK nationalism we so often see being promoted by the UK government, major political parties, BBC etc, is the greatest recruiter for those seeking independence for their countries from the United Kingdom.

  • GWYN Williams 5th Sep '21 - 12:19pm

    Diolch Hilton a phob dymuniad da i ti.

  • Cj Williams 5th Sep '21 - 2:32pm

    Brad Barrows. As an Englishman I struggle to see where my culture is protected or celebrated. We have no parliament, no designated minister. In fact in the British Parliament the English are under represented.
    Then there are ethnic minority cultures. Where do they sit within this United Kingdom? The questions surrounding culture and identity within a democracy should be serious matters of debate for as far as I can ascertain, there is no successful multi-cultural democracy in the world. In fact a case can be made that as a polity becomes more multi-cultural then democracy expressed as the will of the people, for the people begins to break down. This is most marked in the United States. In 1960 90% of the population were white but by 2020 this had fallen to just over 60%. It is this figure that goes a long way to explaining the success of Donald Trump.
    Then there is the propensity of ‘progressives’ to divide the population into separate identities, young and old, black and white, north and south, straight and gay, the list is endless.
    I have said before that democracy is a young and precious system of government, it is dangerous for the democracy of Britain, however inadvertently, to turn it’s people and cultures against one another. Do not Balkanise these islands.

  • Cj Williams 5th Sep '21 - 3:56pm

    Martin. Could you elaborate a lttle. Is there a UK wide Govt with limited reserved powers or some sort of Star Chamber where contentious issues are debated and decided upon?

  • Nonconformistradical 5th Sep '21 - 4:11pm

    @Cj Williams
    “As an Englishman I struggle to see where my culture is protected or celebrated.”

    How do you even define English culture? The language is an international one. What else would you regard as being part of specifically English culture?

  • Cj Williams 5th Sep '21 - 5:09pm

    Nonconformistradical. The English language is used by many global institutions and people, that does not make it an international language in the same sense as Esperanto.
    When someone asks you what defines English culture you get the feeling that perhaps you should be ashamed of it, that it is somehow defective. But i am not ashamed of it so I will give it a go.
    Whenever I feel, see,hear or smell something, if I recognise that as my own then that belongs to my culture. As to what is integral to English culture, freedom, choice, the ability to offend but not be offensive, confidence as to who we are. I also feel a strong affinity to the okey kokey.

  • Nonconformistradical 5th Sep '21 - 5:40pm

    @Cj Williams
    “As to what is integral to English culture, freedom, choice, the ability to offend but not be offensive, confidence as to who we are.”
    Not necessarily unique to England. So what is especially English as oppsoed to any other nationality about those characteristics?

  • Cj Williams 5th Sep '21 - 6:03pm

    Nonconformistradical. ‘Not necessarily unique to England’ Well spotted. So you could say that these are basic cultural characteristics of liberal democratic nations. I could say the Queen, but there is the Commonwealth so for you, it is not unique so that’s no good. Perhaps culture can be shared but not be the same. We are often compared to the Germans as being similar, but that cannot be true as we never came close to electing a murderous fascist state.
    I have owned properties in France, a fabulous and beautiful country with great people, but I knew I was not and could not be French. It’s what is inside of you, it is not a list.

  • Nonconformastradical, I have only ever seen or heard people question whether England has a culture on this site and amongst other Liberals, it’s almost as though there is a wing of the party that is embarrassed and ashamed of England and would like to only eradicated.
    The fact that England was the dominant party in the Empire does mean that some of its culture has been shared across the world, but it is England’s culture. It’s history, liteature, language, architecture, music, performing arts etc.
    Yes other countries have these things but they are different to the English. As to your persistent questioning, re what is unique about English culture I could ask the same of France, certainly not the language, likewise Spain, Germany, Scotland Wales,I could go on.. It’s only ever the existence of English culture that is questioned by some of the Lib Dems / self appointed progressives. It is very telling.

  • That should read, would like to see it erradicated.

  • Not forgetting of course England’s contribution to sports, football, rugby and cricket, all part of English culture, generously shared with the rest of the U.K. and wider world. To this day there are some, in particular in Europe who want the F.A. to rename itself the English F.A. as a proud Englishman I would say any change should be resisted, the fact that the F.A. is the F.A. is part of our heritage……and culture and should not be changed because some others find it annoying.

  • Nonconformistradical 6th Sep '21 - 8:30am

    @Justin
    “England’s contribution to sports, football, rugby and cricket, all part of English culture, generously shared with the rest of the U.K. and wider world.”
    Not sure what might be generous about it – they would have needed other nations to participate – perhaps to be dominated?

    It seems to me sometimes English sports people appear to have assumed a divine right to win – and sometimes have got a horrible shock. Let me remind you of a couple of football matches during the 1950s between England and Hungary – during both of which England appeared to have been well and truly trashed – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Match_of_the_Century_(1953_England_v_Hungary_football_match) (look under ‘return fixture ‘ for the 2nd one. No – I wasn’t watching either of these matches (football doesn’t interest me particularly).

    “To this day there are some, in particular in Europe who want the F.A. to rename itself the English F.A. as a proud Englishman I would say any change should be resisted, the fact that the F.A. is the F.A. is part of our heritage”
    Since the organisation referred to as the F.A. actually does not represent any country other than England I would suggest the change would be appropriate.

  • Nonconformistradical 6th Sep '21 - 8:33am

    @Justin
    “That should read, would like to see it erradicated.”
    You were correct in your previous posting. e.g. https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/eradicate

    As someone who appears to value the English language so much – oughtn’t you to be doing better?

  • David Evans 6th Sep '21 - 10:42am

    Nonconformist – you do seem to be on a bit of a downer today.

    “They would have needed other nations to participate – perhaps to be dominated.” Presumably just as did Notts County when they sent shirts to Juventus in 1903, not just simply helping out.

    “English sports people appear to have assumed a divine right to win – and sometimes have got a horrible shock. Let me remind you of a couple of football matches during the 1950s between England and Hungary” I suggest you look even further back than that, Scotland first beat England in 1874 and even won the first two British Home Championships in the late 1880s.

    “As someone who appears to value the English language so much – oughtn’t you to be doing better?” No comment.

    “Since the organisation referred to as the F.A. actually does not represent any country other than England I would suggest the change would be appropriate.” Of course on today’s form, I might suggest that you change your moniker from Nonconformistradical to Abitofagrump, but then a title used for many years by a character we know and love has a certain cachet probably shouldn’t be sacrificed for one bit of a bad day at the office.

    Stay Nonconformist, Radical.

  • Nonconformistradical 6th Sep '21 - 11:07am

    @David Evans
    You’re right (up to a point) – I am feeling grumpy.

    But I do regard patriotism as an over-rated ‘virtue’ (if it can be called a virtue but I perceive that’s how many people see it). All too often it degenerates into ‘my country right or wrong – very dangerous in my view’. And then how far are we from “unser Deutches Volk”?

    At least at their start in life human beings should be treated equally and none should be disadvantaged as a result of who their parents were, where they were born, colour of their skin etc.

    “Everybody’s important, and nobody’s very important” – a quote from Stefan Edberg
    https://www.1point1.co.uk/good-point/-everybodys-important-and-nobodys-very-important

  • David Evans 6th Sep '21 - 12:10pm

    Nonconformist – That’s more like it. Indeed far too many are disadvantaged as a result of who their parents were etc. It’s always been with us and probably always will be.

    The question is what do we have to do (and keep doing where we are already doing the right stuff) to make it better, and has say (to be deliberately searching) the catastrophic fall in the study of mainstream foreign languages in Wales been driven in part by the insistence on teaching Welsh?

  • Nonconformistradical, need one be a poet to enjoy Wordsworth? A virtuoso guitarist to enjoy the Blues? A Da Vinci to be moved by his art?
    I never thought to post this here given the ‘tolerance and inclusivity’ that the site and the party are so proud of but here it is, I am on the spectrum of dyslexia and dyspraxia, at work and home I have access to voice recognition software. When travelling or in hotels I lurk and sometimes post on a range of sites that interest me. I was thinking of joining the party but
    some views across threads and one thread above has given me pause.
    Given your response to my earlier post I have asked a friend to help with this one so typos and errors are his 🙂
    By the way thank you for your link to the dictionary, FYi depending on the severity of the he dyslexia that doesn’t help although there are some phonetic ones that might.
    I shall finish by saying I think your post says more about you than me

  • Nonconformistradical, furthermore, your post reminds me of how some kids at school used to talk to and us my invisible disability as a reason to assault me. I guess one difference between us is, even if you were to make an error in spelling or Gramma I wouldn’t call you out, I imagine you writing that with a ‘Gotcha’ smirk…….bully much ?

  • Cj Williams 6th Sep '21 - 10:29pm

    Justin Nonconformist
    Int he genlish langage grate. cap spelin bid gramer an in the words rong place. Yet. Badly spoken, badly written we can stiil understand what is being said. That is the beauty of English. It allows nuance and precision and you don’t need to be a language professor whereas in French if you wrongly use a masculin instead of a feminin noun in a sentence then you had just as well be speaking Mandarin. The English Language, our greatest cultural export, and it is uniquely English.

  • Cj Williams, agreed. 🙂

  • Cj Williams 7th Sep '21 - 12:08am

    Nonconformistradical
    “unser Deutches Volk” should read “unser Deutsches Volk”

  • Nonconformistradical 7th Sep '21 - 12:30am

    “unser Deutches Volk” should read “unser Deutsches Volk”
    Yep – thank you for correction.

  • Cj Williams 7th Sep '21 - 12:56am

    Nonconformistradical. No problem but not me. Google. I had to translate the phrase. Thanks for debate.

  • George Thomas 8th Sep '21 - 11:55am

    “In the Boris Johnson era, it is increasingly difficult to defend a union where mutual respect has been eroded at the very top of government.”

    I think it’s a little naïve to suggest this is a Boris Johnson problem. Recent documents released show what Tony Blair and advisers thought about the then Welsh Assembly, we’ve all seen clips of John Redwood…and Churchill doesn’t have best reputation in Wales either.

    We’re now seeing active attacks on devolution but lack of respect has always been there.

  • How liberal is it to slavishly defend a union for the sake of it?

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