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Sunday, May 21, 2006

Pie and Mash

I was certainly aware of the intention of the English Democrats to contest Monmouthshire at the next Welsh Assembly elections. Apparently, they believe that the county should be returned to England after 722 years of being erroneously placed on the wrong side of Offa's Dyke.

I was also attracted to the rather frivolous suggestion that I read somewhere that we should retaliate by seeking to claim the Forest of Dean for the Welsh. However, it has taken Matt Withers' column in today's Wales on Sunday to drive home to me precisely how out of touch the English Democrats are with the gentle, sophisticated and diverse Anglo-Welsh culture of Monmouthshire communities. He draws attention to the party's website, where Garry Bushell describes their sort of England:

My England is bubble and squeak and foaming pints of Boddingtons. It is Les Dawson and Barbara Windsor, Max Miller and Page Three. My England is pie and mash and Aston Martins, Derby day and Arfur Daley, Mods and Suedeheads, Lennie McLean and Carry On films. My England stretches from Dennis Skinner to Roger Scruton, from Peggy Mount to Beki Bondage. It's Blackpool beach, Charlie Drake, Charlton Athletic FC, roast beef, imperial measurements and vindaloo. It's defiance. Whether it be King Alfred standing up to the Vikings, Colonel H at Goose Green, or the Metric Martyrs giving the finger to Brussels. No-one likes us! We don't care!

Even the local Tory MP, David Davies, would be appalled at that rather crude caricature of the English.
I like this idea. Let's loosen the tie between physical geography and organisational contingencies.

I'll be American next month...then maybe Japanese...

Talking of caricatures: my image of Wales is statist, nannyish, illiberal, xenophobic, backward-looking, jobs-for-the-boys, handout dependent. Perhaps I spent too long in Aberystwyth.
not sure about illiberal but ill go along with the rest.

by the way i think i was me who said about the forest of dean - although i only said it to try and illustrate how idiotic their claim on monmouthshire was, and if they were going to give a decision to the people of monmouthshire then why not the forest also.

although it does raise an interesting point where do you draw the borders? the easiest example is scotland hadrians wall was traditionally seen as the border until edward I reached over and took two counties on the otherside, so hadrians wall is now totally in england. the borders between the countries are arbitary and because we have been so close for so long then there is bound to be some blurring of cultures, people, loyalties around the edges. just look at alsace and lorrain in france.
The English are more than welcome to have Monmouth. It would mean one less Tory in Cardiff, and one less in Westminster. What could be better...
More accurately, it would have no impact on the representation of the Tories at Westminster, though as the result of the way that top-up seats are calculated it may actually lead to there being two less Tories in Cardiff Bay.
A few years ago, when I did some work on an extranet website for the Eurostar Railway partners, ticket sales reports had to be produced showing Aachen for the Germans and Aix for the French.

Of course, we didn't have to produce such reports too often...
As I said, it is a caricature but:

Statist - here's from the WAG website:

'Our work on building the economy and creating more and better jobs and skills'

- the WAG thinks it not only support legislation and conditions conducive for the creation of jobs, it thinks it creates jobs.

Xenophobic: needn't delve into the further reaches of Cymuned. Again from the WAG site, two languages available, Welsh and English. By comparison, the Scottish Parliament website's available in fourteen languages or scripts including French, German, Spanish, Bengali, Chinese, Urdu, etc.

I'll move the rest onto by own blog and trackback here when I've finished, save taking up space with a rant. You get the picture though.
Of course if we allowed Monmouthshire to secede we'd also lose Alyn & Deeside - and probably the rest of Flintshire along with Wrexham to boot ...

The idea of an enclave of England to the west of Carmarthenshire is quite fun though!
Hmmm. Being a Monmouthshire chap, I quite like the idea of giving David Davies less power (I'm not a fan of his...). However, being a student studying in Wales, I get a good handout from Cardiff which I (and loads like me) would loose if we did secede.
Bloody hell! Is the entire content available in all those languages? I doubt it!

The Welsh Language Act costs us taxpayers around £300 million a year. It cannot be immune from criticism about whether it is a good use of our money.

The caricuture you posit of the Welsh has a certain degree of truth, but I sympathise with your suggestion that it probably is biased by too long a stay in Aber & too much reading the dreadful Western Mail...

The Economist has rather a good editorial piece this week on Scotland - which could just as easily be applie to Wales IMHO
Offa's dyke was a defensive geophysical device, not a boundary. How amazing that, allegedly, Monmouthshire could be placed on either side according to whim!

Monmouthshire was part of England for over 700 years. The 1535 and 1542 'Laws of Wales' Acts were enacted by a king of Welsh stock (Henry VIII), whose Welsh father (Henry VII) seized the throne of England after defeating and killing the English king, Richard III, at Bosworth in 1485.

Monmouthshire was arbitrarily annexed to Wales in 1972 by a Tory Government without any prior consultation of those directly affected.

It is easy for Peter Black to disparage the English Democrats without reference to inconvenient facts. It would be better for it to be done in Welsh, which would point up the utter insignificance of Welsh and the waste of English money 'preserving' it. As it is, real communication needs to be effected in English - as ever!

Enjoy your sanctimonious and self-centred feelings Peter Black! The people of Wales deserve better than the likes you you in their legislature.
Your obsession and the name under which you choose to post says more about you that you know. I would however refer you to the thoughts of the Conservative AM for Monmouth on this matter. He points out that the Monmouthshire referred to in some old Acts of Parliament was much larger than the Monmouthshire of today. Effectively it is the Gwent area of South East Wales, including Newport and the eastern Valleys. He says that the idea that a referendum proposition in that area to secede from Wales would have any chance of success is a total fantasy.
And of course, they conveniently forget the fact it was the Welsh Kingdom of Gwent, Home of Gwenhwyseg.

Still, it gets them some publicity.

Of course, if one is to argue this on the basis that Monmouthshire was placed in the Oxford Assizes, there must be a counter argument as Chester was in the Welsh courts....


August 1997
Paul Murphy Esq MP House of Commons LONDON SW1A OAA
Dear Paul
Thank you for your letter of 8 August enclosing further correspondence from your constituent Mr W E Jones.
The Local Government Act 1972 abolished the administrative county of Monmouthshire and the county borough of Newport, which until then were legally part of England. The definition of Wales in that Act was fully debated prior to the legislation receiving royal assent in 1972 and consequently Monmouthshire became part of Wales on 1 April 1974. I believe this presented ample opportunity for Members of Parliament to put forward any representations that had been made to them by their constituents on any of the proposed boundary changes. This ongoing process of elected members representing their constituents views is the cornerstone of our Parliamentary process and presents a more than adequate opportunity for democratic debate.
The Government has no plans to hold a referendum in the County of Monmouthshire on whether it should become part of England.
Yours sincerely
Signed Win Griffin

(Welsh MP in the Welsh Office)
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