David Howell examines Plaid Cymru’s position after this week’s European elections.

May 28th, 2014

While the status quo remained the same in Wales following the European elections, there was no shortage of change. With UKIP solidifying their presence in Wales and half the country turning from blue to purple after the final results, the political landscape is largely unrecognisable from a few years ago. The spread of elected representatives being sent to Europe from Wales is no different, but the signs are certainly there that the political will of the country has decidedly shifted.

Throughout the European campaign, Plaid Cymru followed a path well trodden by the major parties, in basing the bulk of their arguments around why the electorate should not vote for UKIP. In some respects, the strategy paid off. Certainly Plaid Cymru have been concerned at the prospect of losing Jill Evans as an MEP, and descriptions of Plaid’s relief at the result, rather than expectation, are probably quite accurate. In terms of base results, yes, the Plaid plan paid off, but scratch the surface, and a story of stagnation and decline is perhaps more representative.

Cross the border into England, and one area in which Labour, the main opposition party in Westminster, have been criticised over, is their lack of gains. While seats have been won, the general consensus is that Labour have not made the inroads they should have, at a time when the current coalition government continues to press forward with unpopular spending cuts. For Wales, Plaid stand in opposition to the Welsh Labour Government, and have no formal links to the unenvied coalition in Westminster. Yet, instead of making inroads at the expense of the establishment and seemingly unpopular parties, Plaid’s overall vote share went down. While Labour are feeling squeezed in the face of what in practical terms can only be described as a success, how can Plaid consider the retention of their one seat, and a decline in vote share as anything short of a failure?

Of course, history would suggest that Plaid Cymru’s position in European elections has little to do with how it is received by voters at a local/national level. The most relevant issues in European elections are not necessarily shared when the vote is focused on home territories. Yet, the manner in which the European elections of 2014 have been covered by the media, may well force a change in this dynamic. While the BBC have courted plenty of criticism for delivering a dominant UKIP narrative in the weeks leading up to the final vote, the wider television and print based media share a collective guilt for pushing the UKIP agenda into the homes of voters. The UKIP manifesto may ultimately fall very low in voter priorities, but this does not mean that their arguments will not dominate headlines. Voter priorities are what the media make them to be, it would seem.

In less than a year, a General Election will be held. In the months to follow, there is little scope for Conservative, Labour or Liberal Democrat positions to be strengthened, the parties of power seeming to only be in a position where votes can be lost. UKIP however have now established their profile. Through their own policy to do very little in Europe, it is difficult to conceive how they will be in a position to lose any of this ground. Implosion is a possibility, but for all the racism, homophobia and misogynistic scandals that have surrounded the party in the run up to 2014, it is questionable what outrage UKIP members have left to commit that could possibly alienate prospective voters. As a result, it is entirely conceivable that in the run in to the next General Election, a significant proportion of media coverage will be handed over to UKIP, or what other parties have to say about UKIP.

This is where Plaid Cymru has an opportunity to be distinctive. Whatever might be said of UKIP, one thing that has stood out from their campaigning is their capacity to stay on message (however deplorable that message might be), and offer less obsessional commentary on their opponents than their opponents did for them. At times during this campaign, it felt as if the Conservatives, Labour Party, Liberals and Plaid were all in some grand coalition designed to promote UKIP. The alternative to UKIP was a succession of rosettes which appeared capable of only talking about, of course, UKIP.

If the momentum stays with the ‘newcomer’, and media attention continues to fixate on the growth of the British (and European) right, this will be a factor in 2015. Plaid Cymru, while holding ground in heartland areas, must surely be concerned that since devolution came to Wales, their vote share has almost been halved. Focusing on a party narrative, rather than becoming trapped into the ‘fear cycle’ is imperative for gains. The ‘fear cycle’, where parties go out of their way to outline the perils of what might be if a certain vote is cast, is frequently counter intuitive. The Liberal Democrats, through Nick Clegg’s televised campaigns, become synonymous with the dangers of UKIP campaign strategy, and it nearly wiped them off of the map. In Scotland, while the referendum on independence is still being led by the No campaign, their lead is slowly being eroded. As emphasis falls more and more on the fear of change, the negative tone proves increasingly unattractive to voters. Plaid Cymru must distance themselves from such approaches if gains are the order of the next election.

A strong, distinct message, is what every party strives to deliver come election time. In 2014, UKIP delivered that, while their opponents collectively floundered in a festival of finger pointing. Those parties who manage to extract themselves from this cycle in time for 2015 will find votes. If UKIP has achieved anything in 2014, it is in showing the electorate that there is another choice. For Plaid Cymru, staying on topic, and not sharing in the nationwide fixations on opposition, has the potential to set the party aside. They need to be seen as another choice. To just maintain current levels of support, in a country which now has five distinct political voices (the Greens being someway off gaining the foothold needed to be considered a sixth major player in Wales), will be a major challenge for Plaid. For that to be achieved, before even thinking about winning back lost territories, a focus on transmitting the party message first, must now be a priority before arguing about the dangers of any other group. Should Plaid Cymru attempt to repeat the trick of the 2014 elections, then the continued gradual erosion of their share of the vote should only be expected.

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David Howell is a Lecturer in Heritage, History and Politics at the University of South Wales.

25 Responses to:“For Plaid to grow, look to UKIP.”

  1. Richard Nosworthy says:

    In an election where the main message in Wales was, as usual, from the UK media and its focus on UKIP, Plaid got its supporters out, kept its seat and performed strongly in areas it can win next year like Ynys Mon and Ceredigion. Leanne was the party leader who took on UKIP head-on and had a positive message about Wales gaining from EU membership by creating jobs. You’re right to say Plaid needs a positive message in the next couple of years – Leanne’s speech in last year’s conference was a taste of that. Rent controls and taxing sugary drinks to fund new doctors, as well as a big shift in powers to Cardiff Bay are strong ideas which mark Plaid out as a distinctive force.

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  2. Martin Jones says:

    Plaid’s trump card – should they wish to play it – is that they are advocating Wales (and Welsh Europeanism) as opposed to adulating London, and the chimera of Britain / UK (which is essentially England, and will be even more so if Scotland says Yes). If Plaid can be seen to promote the interests, aims and objectives of current and future Welsh electorates then they will prosper. The ideological battle lines between Welsh Nationalism and British Nationalism are now firmly drawn. As only Plaid Cymru represent the former, they have a massive task ahead of them and a huge weight on their shouilders. If the latter triumphs, then Wales will, in the decades ahead, be completely absorbed (socially, culturally, and eventually linguistically) into EnglandWales, and our politics will continue on their rightward, insular trajectory.

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  3. Chris Jones says:

    Excellent article. The focus by Plaid Cymru on blind support for the EU in the face of all its difficulties may have put off many voters. Even though the EU is vital for Wales and the source of essential regional funding over the past decade, the ‘gold-plating’ by WEFO and the indolence of the Labour ruling Welsh government has led to dramatic erosion in perception that any of this ‘funding’ has reached real people and businesses in Wales. The only beneficiaries seem, to the wider population, to be consultants, business support (sic) agencies and local council management salary scales. If Plaid continue to support, even by proxy, this kind of EU fund misapplication/economic reliance then it will increasingly lose vote share to ‘sceptics’ and to UKIP. By all means be supportive of the ‘European’ dream but maybe ride on a ‘eurosceptic’ desire to reform it’s working – a message not getting through at the moment.

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  4. Jason Morgan says:

    Plaid Cymru members who are hailing this result as a victory are almost tragic. Let’s get one simple thing out of the way – if UKIP didn’t do as well, PC would have no European seats. That’s not a victory, or even a relief, it was more of a get-out-of-jail card. Get real. If you look at the bare figures PC barely got its core vote out (although, perhaps simply it’s core vote is actually that low).

    This of course isn’t a scientific thing to say, but most people I know are PC supporters (including myself, somewhat reluctantly) and I can absolutely say that whilst discussing PC with many of its supporters over the past few years, the majority if not vast majority of those seem to be bitterly disappointed in PC. This disappointment I think stems from the fact that PC simply don’t look any different to the three other Assembly parties, even to many of its strongest supporters (and I mean supporters as opposed to members here). The new leadership hasn’t struck a chord with these people either, in the way many members hoped it might.

    I disagree with Martin Jones above – the battlelines between Welsh Nationalism and British Unionism haven’t been drawn at all and PC need to take a lot of the blame for that.

    PC simply haven’t set themselves apart over the past few years. Maybe because Welsh politics is too consensual. Maybe because on the political spectrum they’re more or less in exactly the same place as Labour and Lib Dems in Wales. Maybe the party concentrates too much on a left-wing agenda at a time where political left-right dogmatism is dead. Maybe because weak leadership appears to be endemic in the party.

    All I can say it PC were damned lucky. If they don’t accept that they’re not going anywhere but down.

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  5. John Winterson Richards says:

    “The wider television and print based media share a collective guilt for pushing the UKIP agenda into the homes of voters.” Hardly objective! In any case, if “guilt” there be, it is surely for the opposite, allowing the established political parties to define our politics. The lack of media coverage of independent voices has cemented a closed ruling class in power and helped destroy our democracy.

    On this occasion, the concerted media attack on UKIP, fed by information provided by their regular contacts in the main parties, backfired badly because it reminded everyone of everything they dislike about our current political system.

    Negative campaigning in general is more often than not counter-productive. To even name your opponent is to publicise him, and to respond to him is to surrender the initiative.

    The voters would actually respond well to a party who campaigned by explaining precisely how their lives would be better if the party’s policies were followed. Instead we are stuck with four – now five – slight variations on the same old traditional Welsh Whinge.

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  6. Keith Parry says:

    David Howell is right Plaid Cymru needs a simple clear message. INDEPENDENCE FOR WALES! the one massage Plaid has got the others havent.
    Since 1999 the message has been feeble, about every thing except what the party is for , INDEPENDENCE, SELF GOVERNMENT, NATIONAL LIBERATION, NATIONAL FREEDOM. The SNP have always called for Independence and is where it is. Plaid Cymru has failed to do so and is where it is.
    In 1999 Plaid had serious support through out Wales. Feeble leadership has let that support drift away.
    We CAN afford independence. We can NOT afford government by England.

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  7. John R Walker says:

    Plaid serve no useful purpose – red Plaid in EU, blue Plaid in EU and yellow Plaid in EU have stolen their clothes!

    I hope we don’t get purple Plaid from UKIP but that would probably be just another nail in Plaid’s coffin.

    IF I was going to support a party looking towards independence for Wales it would have to be outside the EU. At the present time there isn’t a party which offers this Iceland/Norway type of option but it might draw some support if there was one. But not from me because I don’t see Wales as viable in or out of the EU – not in my lifetime.

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  8. Rhobat Bryn Jones says:

    I have to admit that this recent surge in UKIP support in Wales has me baffled. There are certain features of it that have a familiar pattern and can be distinguished form what is happening in England.

    I am reminded of Dennis Balsom’s Three Wales model when looking at the electoral map showing who topped the poll in the various electoral districts. The Fro voted for Plaid Cymru, Welsh Wales voted for Labour and British Wales mainly voted for UKIP with the exception of Cardiff. But the fact that I keep referring to this model suggests a certain intellectual laziness on my part.

    I can understand, I think, the appeal of UKIP in England. The combination of the impact of the global crash combined with the sociological changes that have impacted upon England have left many people with a sense that they no longer recognise the country they grew up in. In London, where the majority of people who live there were not born in the UK, it is significant that the vote for UKIP was far less than the rest of the country. It is also significant that it was able to garner as much support as it did without any policies to speak of.

    My bafflement is the growth of the UKIP vote in Wales. It is true that there are more English people in Wales than there are Welsh speakers but I don’t think that this is an issue that is based on national identity. It is also the case that, according to a poll today, 34% of Welsh people admit to being racially prejudiced. It is also the case that many voters in Wales are far from signed up to the Assembly as our national government; at the last election, the turnout for the 2011 election was 42.2%. However it’s quite clear that, because of its poor economic performance, Wales benefits from its membership of the EU. Even the Conservatives were admitting that in the run up to the European elections.

    I can only assume that this message of EU benefits for Wales has simply not got through and that the interpretation of events as expressed on the UK media holds a stronger sway. But somehow I suspect that I’m clutching at straws at this stage. UKIP is not yet played out. When they start to suffer losses as they eventually will, we’ll be in a better position to assess the nature of the beast.

    All that said, it is time for the EU to begin to address its relationship with the electorate and also its image. The fact that there are two parliamentary buildings instead of one, for example, gives the strong impression that no expense is spared in feeding its grandiose ambitions while certain member countries have to suffer the consequences of extreme austerity measures in order to stave off national bankruptcy.

    As for Plaid Cymru’s performance, it does seem to have stalled in its stated aim of breaking out of the Fro and establishing a presence in the Valleys, something it achieve back in 1999 but has failed to recapture since then. I always had the impression that Leanne Wood was enthroned as the leader as a stopgap measure until the real leader, Adam Price, got his act together and stood for the Assembly in 2016. Little has been heard of him since he stood down as an MP other than his involvement in his own business ventures. Could this explain the lack of Plaid momentum?

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  9. R.Tredwyn says:

    Political leadership in Wales is poor across the board. Labour have been able to hang on to support despite being weakly led but proved vulnerable to UKIP despite them wanting to privatize the NHS and abolish all protection for workers. Plaid have to ask why they couldn’t ever tap that latent discontent with less crazy policies. Although I do not support her Party, I have always thought Kirsty Williams was the most impressive of the Welsh party leaders. So it was depressing seeing her on telly tonight sounding like the worst kind of politician assuring the audience that black was white. Clegg she said was the best person to lead the LibDems into the next election. Whatever you think of Clegg it is obvious he has lost public credit and the LibDems are heading for a brick wall at high speed with no airbags. A crash involving political fatalities is certain. What is the point of denying what every viewer knows to be true? She could have saved the Welsh LibDems by saying Lord Oakshott was right and, actually, rather than him leaving the party while Clegg is leader, they would be better off if it was the other way round! She lacked the nerve, sounded like a craven careerist and is now going down the tubes with the rest of her party.

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  10. jon owen jones says:

    Why is Rhobat baffled? Could it be that he share his leader`s view that voting for UKIP is “unwelsh”. UKIP received near double Plaid`s vote. Not just in “BritWales but across Wales. They were first or second in every region.Their appeal based on three main factors.
    A protest i.e none of the above
    A leader who seemed to talk to normal people and who answered questions directly.
    Talking about the problems of immigration
    Lots of people found that an attractive position.They were no less Welsh than Rhobat nor I.

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  11. Rhobat Bryn Jones says:

    @ Jon Owen Jones

    I have no objection to having my views challenged or disagreed with but I do object to words being put in my mouth. If you had undertaken even the most rudimentary research on this website, you will see that I objected very strongly to the term “unwelsh” since it contradicts the basic tenets of citizenship which I believe in and which are at the core of a civilised democratic society, i.e. it is exclusive. UKIP voters in Wales, whatever their political views, are Welsh citizens and belong to the body politic of Wales. They cannot be dismissed as belonging somewhere else.

    You also make reference to my leader. Since I do not belong to any political party, I have no leader, though I do belong to the IWA. Talented and charming a man as he is, I don’t regard Lee Waters as my leader.

    Let me therefore respond to your question about being baffled. I don’t have a fully formed answer since I am still trying to work things through. But I am surprised that the level of UKIP support was pretty much the same as it was in England. There are certain important differences. UKIP broke through to top the poll in England in huge swathes of the country in a way that they did not in Wales. They only topped the poll in British Wales. This is not to say that the support for UKIP was insignificant but it had a different significance because of a different context.

    I suppose my thoughts centre around the fact that we have had a democratic institution in Wales for 15 years and I assumed that would have an effect on voting patterns which it did not. Taking my thoughts a step further, I suppose I am disappointed that British Wales’ voting pattern, to which I belong, does not seem to have been affected by the Assembly’s existence. The difference in performance is better explained by the difference in the political cultures of the two countries. So as Maynard Keynes put it, “When my information changes, I alter my conclusions. What do you do, sir?”

    It seems to me that there are a great many people who feel disconnected from the Assembly. The turnout for the 2011 election was 42.2%. Did UKIP’s support come from outside that figure or from within it or if both, what were the proportions?

    The First Minister is on record as saying that we need to understand why UKIP voters voted the way they did. And we can all speculate as to what those reasons might be. It would help matters greatly however if we had some data drawn from properly conducted research on which to base our opinions.

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  12. jon owen jones says:

    Rhobat my apology for assuming you accepted the unwelsh description. There is very little evidence to suggest UKIP`s support in Wales was any different to that in England.Wales has a larger proportion of old industrial areas with a strong Labour party affiliation. In these Labour topped the poll and UKIP came second. In Northern English cities there was a similar result.
    Yes Wales voted differently in the Bro but not elsewhere. The Language does make a difference but its rash to assume that that`s because of a difference in attitude to policies.Party loyalty has some part to play and perhaps a greater fear of being labelled unwelsh.
    On data I have been assuming that Welsh attitudes are much the same as those in England on immigration i.e a large majority favour stricter controls.Until a few minutes ago I hadnt seen any welsh data. However a few clicks and a poll by UK.isidewith.com was published 6 days ago. It records that 67% of the UK population favoured stricter controls but the figure for Wales was 68%.

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  13. CapM says:

    @RhBJ
    “… “unwelsh” since it contradicts the basic tenets of citizenship which I believe in….. whatever their political views, are Welsh citizens and belong to the body politic of Wales. They cannot be dismissed as belonging somewhere else”

    I’m not going o disagree with the fundamental basis of the above.
    But I also think that we have to concede that there is a significant number of people living in Wales that consider themselves to be effectively, “unwelsh”. And yes they belong to the body politic of Wales.

    Here’s an illustration taken from data in the 2011 census in Wales. values for other countries of birth and identities are insignificant and I’m assuming that predominately it’s the parents that fill in the census.
    Approx 55 000 children up to 15 years of age were born in England.
    Approx 120 000 children up to 15 years of age were stated to have no welsh identity.

    Without commenting, the raw data indicates that the parents of 65 000 children born and living in Wales for up to 15 years do not see there offspring as having a Welsh identity.

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  14. Rhobat Bryn Jones says:

    @ Jon Owen Jones

    Thank you for your apology which is accepted.

    Your comparison with the North of England is an appropriate one in respect of gaining an insight into the voting behaviour of the Valley constituencies and my thanks for helping to clarify my perspective. I suppose I’m left wondering how a constituency such as SE Wales can swing from the situation in 1999 where Plaid won in Islwyn, Llanelli and Rhondda and came second in Aberavon, Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly, Cynon Valley, Gower, Merthyr Tydfil, Neath, Ogmore, Pontypridd, Swansea East and Swansea West to one where UKIP came second in the ballot. My point is not so much a party political one, but more explaining the swing from a centre left party to one that is to the right of the Conservatives. I know that there is a 15 year gap between the two events and that the elections were conducted at different levels. But in terms of the political spectrum, this is an almighty swing at work that I find difficult to comprehend.

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  15. Rhobat Bryn Jones says:

    @ CapM

    There is a confusion surrounding the use of the word ‘Welsh’ which requires clarification. Welsh can refer to the concept of citizenship and it can also refer to a cultural identity or even ethnicity.

    The first definition is geographically deternined. To be a Welsh citizen is to be a citizen of the country of Wales protected by its rights and accountable to its responsibilities. If you live in the country of Wales, you are a citizen of Wales which is shortened to being a Welsh citizen.

    The second definition is not geographically determined. Membership of a culture is more to do with belonging to a social network with a shared perspective or shared set of values. One only has to look to the reach of Irish culture globally to see the truth of this. Thus it is possible to live in New York and be Welsh just as it is possible to live in Wales and be English. It is this second area of the social cultures of Wales which seems to be the less understood of the two. I doubt we will ever go down the route of describing ourselves as Italian Welsh or Irish Welsh as they do in America, but the cultural complexity that is Wales seems rarely to be reflected on our television screens though admittedly things are better on Radio Wales; I particularly enjoyed the programme on the Polish community in Merthyr Tydfil.

    So when we talk about Welsh as a cultural identity, are we really saying that someone from Caernarfon shares the same culture, putting the issue of language to one side for a moment, as someone from Cardiff? I would argue not although both can be described as Welsh cultures. I also doubt that there is a great deal of cultural interchange between the two either in the sense that both cultures are impacted by engagement with the other. What these and all cultures in Wales have in common is that they all come under the umbrella of Welsh citizenship. If we are ever to achieve something that we can truly call national, it will emerge from having to live together under the same State. This is part of what is beginning to happen on the floor of the National Assembly.

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  16. CapM says:

    @RhBJ
    I was attempting to look at the issue from the “citizen” angle. .
    You said “If you live in the country of Wales, you are a citizen of Wales which is shortened to being a Welsh citizen.”.
    My experience leads me to think that there is are significant number of people in Wales who do not buy into this model of Welsh citizenship.

    It’s tricky to get any data, and the census provides little scope for people to express an opinion. However how parents describe the national identity of their Welsh born children(some of them 15 years old) is one think one.
    The parents of 65 000 children deciding that their offspring’s identity have no Welsh identity whether these children were born and brought up in the Welsh cultures of Cardiff, Caernarfon or Ceredigion is I think saying something about what these parents think about living in Wales and the sort of Welsh citizenship that you describe that goes along with it.

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  17. Rhobat Bryn Jones says:

    @ CapM

    I don’t think the majority of people think a great deal about the nature of their citizenship but that doesn’t negate the reality of it. A great many people don’t give a great deal of thought to the law since they’re too busy getting on with their lives. But it exists and it applies to them whether they buy into it or not.

    I’m afraid I don’t understand the second sentence in your second paragraph:

    “However how parents describe the national identity of their Welsh born children (some of them 15 years old) is one think one.” I’m afraid you’re going to have to interpret that one for me.

    With regards your last paragraph, as I said before, cultural identity is not an accident of birth. It is connected to family and the social networks to which we belong. David Lloyd George was born in Manchester, Saunders Lewis was born in Liverpool, Dafydd Wigley was born in Derby. Are they any the less Welsh for that? Of course not.

    I don’t understand why you see this as such a problem. If someone lives in Wales and considers themselves English then they are simply valuing their own identity and culture. If they pass that on to their children, all well and good. However it is more likely that children and young adults make their own choices about their identity which is not just a matter of nationality.

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  18. CapM says:

    @RhBJ
    “I don’t think the majority of people think a great deal about the nature of their citizenship but that doesn’t negate the reality of it. A great many people don’t give a great deal of thought to the law since they’re too busy getting on with their lives. But it exists and it applies to them whether they buy into it or not.”

    We do think about our national identity though and to an extent project it onto our offspring. I think it contributes to how we view our and our children’s citizenship. Although citizenship and law both exist, law is well defined and there are consequences if it is not complied with. Citizenship is not well-defined, is open to individual interpretation and there are no punitive consequences for non-compliance.

    “I’m afraid I don’t understand the second sentence in your second paragraph:”

    If your child was born in England then there is no choice other than to tick the -born in England box. The national identity question allows a choice. The choice can be to exclude any specifically Welsh component to the child’s identity. A significant number chose that way even if the child was born in and had spent 15 years in Wales. I’m not claiming it’s all the evidence needed to support my view just that it can contribute to supporting it.

    It’s interesting exploring this and we could probably rattle along with it for some time. To sum up my understanding of our conversation. It appears that you have a concept that Welsh citizenship is a single constant that applies to people regardless of what they identify their nationality as being. I think that the form of citizenship a person adopts for themselves is determined in part by what they identify their nationality as being.
    We may be arguing about two separate issues, a right to citizenship and the embrace/rejection of that right.

    As to whether it’s a problem .If you think that the number who don’t subscribe to the same idea of Welsh citizenship that you outline is insignificant, then for you there cannot of course be any problem.

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  19. Rhobat Bryn Jones says:

    @ CapM

    Again you’re simply restating the previous confusion. UK citizenship is defined by the British Nationality Act 1981, EU citizenship is defined by the Maastricht Treaty 1992.

    In other words, citizenship, the relationship of the individual to the State, is a matter of law. You may have an opinion on the law but your opinion has no authority at law. If you’re willing to accept that position, then we can move on to discuss the nature of cultural identity within the State. If you are not, which is your right, then I see little point in persisting with this conversation.

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  20. CapM says:

    @RhBJ
    ” UK citizenship is defined by the British Nationality Act 1981, EU citizenship is defined by the Maastricht Treaty 1992″

    But we have been discussing Welsh citizenship.

    By what legislation is that defined.?

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  21. Rhobat Bryn Jones says:

    @ CapM

    For Welsh citizenship, see my previous answer. It will include, however, those laws, regulations and policies emanating from the National Assembly.

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  22. CapM says:

    @RhBJ
    So no legislation specific to defining Welsh citizenship.

    You highlight the Welsh Assembly’s role in contributing to Welsh citizenship.
    BBC Cymru Wales’ 2014 St David’s Day poll found that 23% said they wanted to see the Welsh Assembly abolished.
    If I am to agree with your opinion that everyone embraces Welsh citizenship in the same manner and to an equal degree then I have to accept that all of those 23% feel the same way about Welsh citizenship as I do.
    To conclude with a rhetorical question. Do you really think that is so.

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  23. Rhobat Bryn Jones says:

    @ CapM

    Because Wales is not an independent country, what defines its citizenship is its position within the UK and the EU; Welsh citizenship is derivative. However what makes Welsh citizenship distinct from other parts of the UK is that its citizens are subject to the laws and regulations that are passed by the National Assembly.

    So to summarise, Welsh citizenship is defined by its position within the UK and EU, it is modified by the Assembly. The fact that the word Welsh is not used in the appropriate legislation does not mean that it does not define Welsh citizenship. It’s important to be able to look beyond the surface and wording in determining these issues.

    Perhaps you can point to where I said that everyone embraces Welsh citizenship. What I said was that citizenship embraces all those who live under a particular state. It doesn’t mean that they are necessarily happy about it but their citizenship is defined by law, they have no choice about that.

    You cite the statistic that 23% want to see the Welsh Assembly. This can be interpreted in any number of ways. But from a citizenship point of view, it is possible to conclude that the effect of that course of action would be to abolish Welsh citizenship and everyone would return to being solely British citizens. In other words, Welsh citizenship came into being on 6th May 1999.

    With regards to how people feel about their citizenship, this is both a political and cultural question but their feelings are irrelevant as to whether they are Welsh citizens or not.

    But my original point was regarding cultural identity within the legal reality of citizenship. I object to the idea that there is one culture that defines Welsh identity simply because that is not the sociological reality. I also object to the idea that citizenship defines cultural identity. For some it does. But for others it is completely irrelevant. It is perfectly possible to be a Welsh citizen and have an English cultural identity. In a democracy, we do not demand that people change their identity in order to be recognised by the state. Just as we do not ask people, in a civilised society, to abandon their language in order to be accepted as British citizens.

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  24. CapM says:

    @RhBJ
    “What I said was that citizenship embraces all those who live under a particular state. It doesn’t mean that they are necessarily happy about it but their citizenship is defined by law, they have no choice about that.”

    You appear to be in effect paraphrasing what I posted earlier i.e.
    “We may be arguing about two separate issues, a right to citizenship and the embrace/rejection of that right.”

    In addition you say
    “I also object to the idea that citizenship defines cultural identity. For some it does. But for others it is completely irrelevant.”
    You object but accept that for some it does. It seems odd then that you do not accept the reverse – a person’s cultural identity can affect their sense of or embrace of (Welsh) citizenship.

    I don’t think that from what we’ve written, either of us thinks our opinions on citizenship apply solely to Wales. A test of their veracity would therefore be to apply our opinions to situations elsewhere. How would our opinions stand up to scrutiny in the context of for example say the Ukraine.

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  25. Rhobat Bryn Jones says:

    @ CapM

    You continue to confuse citizenship with cultural identity rather than examine the relationship between what are two distinct entities. A person’s perception of their sense of citizenship does not impact upon that citizenship itself though it will impact upon their perception of themselves and others. You are trying to pursue a cultural argument by hijacking the law which does not wash. Changing the context to the Ukraine or the United States or China will do nothing to clarify the confusion in your position.

    (Report comment)

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