LibLink: Kirsty Williams: St David’s Day – Wales has every right to be up there with the best

I actually got goosebumps reading this St David’s Day piece Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams wrote for Endeavour Public Affairs. It’s brimming with passion, expressing pride in and love for Wales. It’s a real uplifting read, and folk on both sides of Scotland’s independence referendum should note that this is how you inspire people.

She grabs you right from the start:

 Identity isn’t a fixed status; it is a feeling.  Personally, first and foremost, I feel Welsh; then British; then European.  Being Welsh is always the overriding sense of who I am.  I believe a reason for this is how comfortable we in Wales are of our own patriotism. We all have much to be proud over how much our country achieves.  For a country of just over three million, we really do punch well above our weight.  Every year Wales reaches new and impressive heights.

Kirsty even gets Doctor Who in there. You can’t quite, I don’t think,  see the studios where it’s filmed from the Senedd building, but she celebrates the great success of the Welsh tv and film industry and their sporting achievements, too.

We once again retained the Six Nations; our very own Gareth Bale became one of the world’s most valuable footballers; Cyclist Becky James won four medals at the World Track Cycling Championships; Paralympian Aled Sion Davies won two gold medals at the IPC Athletics World Championships; Triathlete Non Stanford was crowned ITU World Champion, the list goes on.

In the arts, the Welsh-produced Doctor Who continues to be a primetime hit and with the construction of the Roath Lock Studios, the BBC’s largest drama production centre are employing hundreds of skilled programme makers in Wales.  Wales is becoming a hub for high quality drama with productions such as Casualty, Wizards versus Aliens and Tolstoy’s War and Peace, which viewers across the UK enjoy.

One area where Wales isn’t doing as well as the rest of the UK is on economic development and growth. Kirsty suggests making St David’s Day a bigger event could bring in more people:

I believe we are missing a trick with regards promoting St David’s Day.  It is a huge opportunity for Wales to sell its brand abroad.  Of course it is a well-recognised day, but this recognition can still grow.  For inspiration, we need look no further than Ireland’s St Patrick’s Day (after all, many scholars agree that St Patrick was a Welshman).  St Patrick’s Day is estimated to be worth over £50m to Ireland’s economy and is an important part of the country’s financial well-being.

Welsh language is declining, too. She argues for it to be better protected:

We cannot underestimate how vital the Welsh language is to Welsh history and culture. Indeed, it is one of the most significant factors that helped keep the Welsh identity alive when there was little recognition of our cultural and national institutions.

The census results from 2011 relating to the Welsh language are worrying.  It shows that the total number of Welsh speakers has declined, especially in the heart of Wales.  The response to this decline needs to span government departments and be related to language rights, community development, and cultural investment.  St David’s Day is the day to remind ourselves that there still is a lot more work to be done to protect our language.

And this paragraph just makes you want to head for a break in Wales right now.

Wales is an open nation, one of warm welcomes and inclusiveness.  That is something we can all be proud of. Many people have come to Wales from the rest of the UK or abroad and instantly have a feeling of Welshness.  It is almost contagious.  We’re also a nation that celebrates diversity, and it’s this diversity which showcases a modern and cosmopolitan Wales.

You can read the whole piece here. I don’t know if my enjoyment of it was enhanced by reading it straight after an extraordinarily p0-faced and negative article on Scottish independence but half an hour on, I’m still smiling.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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One Comment

  • Kirsty has always been an inspiring politician, Caron. Back when I first met her in the run-up to the first Welsh Assembly elections, when she was winning Young Politician awards, when I was a fellow candidate. It was always pretty rare to find good Lib Dem candidates in the tough South Wales industrial lands, but there she was, shining like a beacon! I happened to be with my wife and teenage grandson in Wales on Saturday, and my grandson, being very proud of his Welsh heritage (my wife’s father was Welsh) wanted to go on St David’s Day. We were not disappointed – there were leeks, daffodils etc by the score, and of course, Y Ddraig Goch hanging from many people’s houses. Certainly very different from England on St George’s Day!

    Kirsty shouldn’t be too disappointed about the comparison with St Paddy’s Day, whose financial success is mainly US inspired. Be content with the natural outpouring of cultural fellow feeling in Wales (and the very enjoyable special meal deals for the day – we found leek and potato soup, followed by Welsh cake and cup of tea!)

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