Monday, July 31, 2006

52% Back Welsh Independence

Is it time to break from the Union? Well, a majority of people across Cymru - 52% - think so, according to a new poll conducted by Wales on Sunday.

The poll also shows 70% are happy with the new Government of Wales Act. "After having the powers explained to them, a large majority of those polled say it was the right move. But more than half still said they wanted independence altogether," says reporter Matt Whithers.

But let’s not get carried away here - the results are based on a mere 420 respondents. So at best they’re only suggestive. Still, whichever way you cut it, it’s a majority.

Quick dismissals from the Brit Nats ... and Plaid

Of course, the Westminster parties were quick to dismiss the results. Peter Hain is "sceptical" and Nick Bourne thinks "talk of independence is pie in the sky." But that‘s to be expected, Westminster parties have always play-downed nationalistic support in Cymru, hoping that by ignoring it, it’ll go away.

Only marginally less disappointing was Ieuan Wyn Jones’s rather lukewarm response. "Whether people actually support everything that independence stands for I don't know, but I do think people are more prepared to consider making decisions for themselves," is all he could muster-up. Nobody is expecting Plaid to rejoice in fits of ecstasy but a little more enthusiasm for independence would be nice.

Government of Wales Act - a joke?

Although in favour of independence myself, I must confess to being in the minority regarding the new Government of Wales Act. Primary legislation on devolved issues only when Westminster has agreed to it? A referendum on whether to have a Scottish-style parliament only if it is voted for by a two-thirds majority in the Assembly and a majority in both the House of Commons and the Lords? It‘s a joke.

OK, it might be (slightly) better than nothing but for Peter Hain to claim that “We've now settled this whole issue of the constitutional future of Wales, I would say, pretty well for good" is frankly insulting.

No, at best this Act is a mere stepping-stone to a full parliament, and then independence.

(This story was also featured on British Nat Watch and Seren - both of which I highly recommend.)

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Ble Mae'r Gymraeg, Somerfield?

In general I don’t like supermarkets for a variety of reasons. But yesterday I decided to shop at the new Somerfield store in Prestatyn. I was disappointed. Not once did I see a single word of Cymraeg anywhere in the store. It’s a real shame because in most respects it’s an improvement on Kwikies (which Somerfield recently sold-off); the layout is massively improved, the prices are reasonable, and there’s a better selection of produce. So why the lack of Cymraeg?

Contrast this with the new Tesco store in Rhuthun. It’s still not open but according to Alun Pugh the store is “keeping its promises in relation to stocking Welsh produce and using the Welsh language... Tesco will clearly identify tills operated by bilingual staff, and all staff who speak both languages will carry a badge to this effect.”

Kwikies had Cymraeg signage. So too does Sainsbury’s in Rhuddlan, and Tesco in Abergele. So what’s the problem with Somerfield then?

Thankfully, supermarkets aren’t the be-all and end-all of Cymraeg; it can survive and thrive with or without them. But that’s not the point. Cymraeg should be a natural part of their everyday business. There’s no getting away from the fact that even the ‘borderlands’ are bilingual, not monolingual.

No matter where you are in Cymru, Cymraeg is the national language and it’s being spoken by an increasing number of people. Somerfield and other large stores should recognise this!

Friday, July 28, 2006

Gwrando ar Gymru/What Wales Wants

If you read the Daily Post or listen to the Welsh news you'll have probably heard about Ieuan Wyn Jones's Wales-Wide-Walk. Basically, he'll be walking around Cymru in an attempt to find out what people want from politicians. It's an initiative intended to generate publicity and support in the run-up to next year's (2007) Assembly election. It started yesterday in Ynys Môn and ends in Abertawe at the National Eisteddfod on August 7. Tommorrow he'll be in Bala, which is as far north east as he'll get.

Personally, I think it's a good idea as it gives people a chance to contribute ideas on what Plaid should or shouldn't be doing. I'm sure everyone has an opinion on how life in Cymru could be improved. My top issues would probably be (in no particular order); cheap and decent housing for locals; increasing opportunities for full-time employment;
increasing the use of Welsh in the private sector; and increasing Welsh language schools.

For more information see Plaid's website, and the What Wales Wants website where you can contribute your ideas online.