Welsh nationalism and the wider ramifications | Letters

Readers respond to Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett’s argument that Brexit is giving independence fresh appeal

While Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett’s article (Independence for Wales: back on the agenda, Journal, 28 September) is timely and welcome, it doesn’t acknowledge some points which, as one of the organisers of the march in my home town of Merthyr, I feel are significant.

First, the main movement behind this resurgence has been Yes Cymru, a non-partisan group throughout our nation that has grown rapidly, pushed the agenda on independence and includes EU sceptics as well as remainers. Many of the sceptics look at the way the EU has failed to support Catalonia in its struggle and wonder if such powerful nation states really want emerging small nations in their ranks at all. Furthermore, it was Yes Cymru that took the lead in the painting of “Cofiwch Dryweryn” graffiti.

The marches in Cardiff, Caernarfon and Merthyr attracted a total of about 20,000 people and were organised by AUOB (All Under One Banner), which has a sister organisation in Scotland. In Cymru this consists of Yes Cymru, leftwing and republican group Undod, Cymdeithas yr Iaith (Welsh language society) and Labour for an Independent Wales.

As a longtime socialist republican, I can confirm that when Labour abandoned socialism, it was very much kept alive within the national liberation movement.

Today, something remarkable is happening and Cosslett is right to highlight it. People from all kinds of backgrounds are joining our movement, and it is true that many activists from Plaid are also part of it. The fact that Labour-dominated Blaenafon council recently voted to support Welsh independence is surely an indicator of all this.

The offer of hope is vital, but so is the increasing belief in ourselves (so long cowed). Positive messages in such troubled times.
Mike Jenkins
Yes Merthyr/Cymru

• Where I live in mid-Wales, “Cofiwch Dryweryn” graffiti appears alongside “Free Wales Army” graffiti. There appears to be a resurgence of this romantic, but one-time dangerous organisation. I have recently seen FWA tattoos and T-shirts in Chirk and their graffiti in Welshpool. We have just passed the 50th anniversary of the attempt to bomb the royal motorcade, on its way to Caernarfon Castle, for the investiture of the Prince of Wales. The activists blew themselves up and no one else was harmed. Can you imagine the backlash if they had been successful?

My impression, while campaigning for remain in the referendum, was that it was indeed the farmers and fishermen who were the keenest leavers. Also, the deindustrialised areas in south Wales are not places that tend to attract “older English settlers”.

The Welsh border with England is 160 miles long. It is crossed by 85 A and B roads and many more unclassified ones. It runs through farms and divides fields and, in one place, through a building. It is crossed daily in both directions by people travelling to work, to shop and to access NHS services. If England leaves the EU and Wales remains, Wales will have to charge a tariff on goods crossing the border. Where would Rhiannon suggest the customs posts be placed and which roads would be closed?

The next time Rhiannon crosses the border to exorcise her hiraeth and exercise her hwyl, she may reflect on whether in the future she may need a passport, and whether it will be English, Welsh or EU.
Bill Johnson
Labour for a United Britain

• Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett’s article advocating that Wales leaves the UK begs questions. Granted, what is currently happening in Westminster is not a pretty sight, but do people living in Wales want a tariff barrier between them and England? How in reality would Wales be able to make up for the loss of the great financial advantages of being part of the UK? There would be limits to the amount of money the EU could give to Wales, especially if the UK leaves the EU. Could it be that what is being stirred up in Wales now is another example of people being led along by the ambitions of a small group and that what is being offered is not actually in the best interests of the bulk of the population?

Given the great problems the world is facing, surely we should be working together on this small island – while respecting our different identities – to help deal with these problems in close association with the other countries of Europe rather than indulging in introspection, and what has so often been destructive nationalism?
Robert Evans
Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire

• I read mostly with delight Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett’s article about Welsh nationalism becoming more active. The only thing I am slightly concerned about is the language about English settlers swaying the vote towards Brexit.

I am a non-Welsh-speaking incomer, who has lived and contributed to Gwynedd for 44 years, in many ways. The vast majority of my friends loathe Brexit and can’t abide the lying and stirring in Westminster. I also happen to know a number of Welsh farmers who voted leave in the belief that there would be less bureaucracy.

I have never been that sensitive about language, and accept that I am the incomer/settler. But watching how language is being used to whip up division throughout the UK, I think the statement about English settlers needs modifying so as not to whip up anti-English feeling in Wales.
Jill Hubbard
Caernarfon, Gwynedd

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