Last night’s BBC Question Time came from Neath, South Wales. From the Welsh perspective, the panellists included Leanne Wood, leader of Plaid Cymru, Alun Cairns, Tory & Secretary of State for Wales and the recalcitrant Neil Hamilton, UKIP AM, ex Tory and future contestant on Celebrity Big Brother ( probably along with his omnipresent wife, as long as their payment is made in a grubby underhanded manner and paid over in a brown envelope).
The show ambled along in its usual mind numbing fashion with occasional members of the audience making confused points, the token lame comedian cracking poor jokes, the usual plant, this time a notorious Labour party member and Corbyn supporter ( Michaela Beddows) attacking Plaid Cymru and the Welsh language, an oblivious racist telling the assembled Welsh audience ‘We should all be able to say we’re proud to be English’, with David Dimbleby pulling his typical stunt of quietening the female on the panel while allowing the male participants a free run, on and on….
…. and this …
THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WALES PROVED HIS CONTEMPT FOR US
Becoming visibly flustered by Leanne Wood’s calm self control within a racially charged political scene where most around her are losing their heads, and probably gravely fearing that the struggling Conservative party in Wales ( under their leader, Andrew RT Davies who this week made a monumental arse of himself by confusing Brexit with Breakfast) are losing respect with their increasingly ugly rhetoric, Alun Cairns accused Welsh speakers and Plaid Cymru members of inciting violence, his implication being that Plaid is an aggressive racist party. Watch it here
Alun Cairns has a lot to answer for, but then that was ever thus. However, in his determination to criticise a party who are more popular in Wales than his own ( and who have achieved that popularity without appealing to UKIP and the racist narrative being currently pushed as a votes winner), he lowered the standard of debate and made an attack on every Welsh speaking person in the land. Ironic, really, as he too speaks Welsh but hey, we should never assume that Mr Cairns is capable of much application of logic.
Last week, Lucy Inglis caused justified outrage with her statements that Welsh speakers are rude and ignorant. Alun Cairns not only backed up her xenophobia by stating that we are unwelcoming, he also attached violence to our name. He may think that he successfully slithered away from obvious anti Welsh bigotry because the direct victim of his attack was Plaid Cymru and not Welsh people per se, but I don’t hold with that. Yes, Plaid Cymru were his primary targets but his assumptions and associations reflect a negative image of all Welsh speakers in Wales. Alun Cairns, he of the infamous ‘greasy wop’ statement just accused every person who speaks Welsh, or who lives in a Welsh village or who votes Plaid Cymru of nationalism and threatening activism
So today, in the same way as this time last week I felt obliged to address Lucy Inglis and her racism, today I’m wishing Alun Cairns to revise, withdraw and apologise for his comments.
(You can read about Lucy here https://ygwladgarwr.wordpress.com/2016/09/29/the-curious-case-of-an-english-historian/)
It seems utterly ridiculous to me that again I’m drawing comparisons between Wales and our language with attacks on other groups of persecuted people, but this is the reality of being a Welsh speaking Welsh person in the 21st century United Kingdom. I’m now left wondering if Alun Cairns blames every Muslim person in the UK for the actions of a tiny minority, every German person for the horrors of the Holocaust or if he thinks that we in Wales should be racially profiled on the off chance that Mrs Thomas, bard, headmistress, member of the Gorsedd and people like her are mad firebombing extremists? I’m also wondering if he realises that his careless accusations promote racism.
Alun Cairns blames all Welsh speakers for the actions of a handful of activists starting over 40 years ago. More specifically, he blames them under the banner of Plaid Cymru. Nobody knows the identities of most of those involved, apart, apparently, from Mr Cairns. So familiar is he with these people, in fact, he even knows their political preferences and voting patterns. One wonders why he hasn’t taken his information to the police then? Perhaps he doesn’t enjoy being laughed at?
It proved a great sadness for me that after the show and when I looked at Twitter, I saw that it had turned into yet another Welsh bashing free-fest. Again, the level of vitriol being spewed at us in Wales crossed a line and turned nasty. This time, our own Secretary of State, a man who should be protecting us in Westminster, had provided the prompt. So if we can’t be supported in there, in the home of the UK’s political union, where are we defended? Outside of Plaid Cymru, it would appear that we are not supported at all.
And you know what’s scarier still? It’s the fact that although in this instance Alun Cairns directed his accusations at Welsh language speakers, he could just as easily have directed it at any other group of people in Wales. Alun Cairns doesn’t represent us in Wales; he represents his leaders in London. He represents a union so ugly, casual accusations of racism are now the norm. A union so ugly, people clap and cheer when entire groups of non ‘English’ people are attacked. This is not a UK that I enjoy being a part of.
Plaid Cymru, far from being racist, represents every person in Wales. They are not the party for Welsh speakers, Welsh born, Welsh snobs, the privileged few or Welsh anything. Their mission is simple – it is to better the lives of every person living in Wales. There are no racial connotations. But heck, why let that stop Alun Cairns when discrediting Plaid’s efforts, their members and all Welsh people is clearly so much easier than crying foul on the filthy post Brexit shenanigans of his own nasty party?
Right wing people clearly despise the politics of Leanne Wood and Plaid Cymru and although it’s sad to see a person you respect being treated as a battering ram by idiots, a part of me wonders this -three years ago this malice was directed at Scotland, its people and Alex Salmond. Today, Scotland are closer to independence than ever before. People often attack those that they fear. Is that what motivated the slippery Alun Cairns to betray us all?