Thursday, 11 June 2020

If Wales wants to platy victim of the Empire it must acknowledge its role in its crimes.

It is always though unusual for a Political Party to admit that it had made the wrong call.
Last year Plaid Cymru leader  Adam Price year said Wales should receive UK compensation for a century of being "ground down" into "poverty".Though it seems that Mr Price had conceded that " in an email to a BAME campaign group in  written in October last year, the same month Mr Price made the initial said Mr Price accepted criticism of the argument, made around last year's Plaid Cymru conference.
So why is the story resurfacing now?
At a party conference in October 2019 Mr Price said Wales was owed "reparation for a century of neglect that has left a country, rich in its resources, a bitter legacy of poverty, sickness, blighted lives and broken dreams".
"Westminster owes us twenty times that for the wealth that they stole. Northern Ireland deserves a New Deal absolutely, but surely that's right for Wales too."
In a Nation Cymru piece around that time, Mr Price wrote: "The argument that the British Empire owes reparations to the people of its former colonies is powerfully well-made by the Indian politician Shashi Tharoor.
"But England's first colony should be added to that long list of creditors."About three weeks after the conference a senior party official got in touch with a Welsh BAME-led campaigning group, offering a meeting between them and Mr Price to discuss their work and what he could do to help.
The email, seen by BBC Wales, said: "You may also remember that around the Plaid Cymru conference he called for 'reparations' for Wales from the British state.
"He now recognises and accepts the criticism directed at the story - that is, to present such an argument without considering the part Wales pla
yed in empire and colonialism was wrong."Image copyrightSDuring the General Election campaign the issue came up again when an interview conducted with Mr Price in October was published the following month.
Then, Mr Price's argument was criticised by Labour Health Minister Vaughan Gething, who said he was "pretty staggered that he's chosen to use such deliberately offensive terminology that directly references the experience of Wales and colonialism, and further back slavery".
"You just cannot compare the experience of Wales in the 19th and 20th centuries with the experience of the emancipation campaign from slavery, or indeed the state-backed racism that was visited upon African Americans in America," he said.
Mr Price said at the time that Mr Gething's comments were a "deliberate attempt to distract from the real issues" by "smearing" him, and described it as "ugly politics".
In response to BBC Wales enquiries, Plaid Cymru said: "Adam Price is continuously in constructive dialogue with the BAME community and the party actively sought a meeting with individuals after the autumn party conference.""It was heartening to read the support and praise for Mr Price in the correspondence, and the offer of a meeting still stands.
"Further and independently, Mr Price was very grateful for the opportunity to meet the chair and representative of Plaid BME in February. In the meeting, Mr Price highlighted Wales's role in colonialism and the need for it to be foregrounded, and the discussion was welcomed by the chair."
A statement from Plaid BME added: "Plaid BME had a very constructive meeting with Mr Price in which we heard him elaborate on his argument in a thoughtful and logical manner."
"We were reassured in no uncertain terms that Mr Price has a deep understanding of the nuances of the debate, and this was something we were eager to relay to our community. We know that Adam Price wasn't equating Wales's historical plight to that of the suffering of the BAME community."
"We also welcomed Mr Price's commitment to us that he would be writing further on this topic and look forward to reading his thoughts in the post-Covid period."
Were the media made aware that Mr Price had conceded  he was in the wrong to to present such an argument without considering the part Wales played in empire and colonialism  at the time?
We Ignore much of the part Wales had played in establishing the British Empire and this come stark in that we should ask what were Welshmen doing in South Africa in the film Zulu and must not deny that far to often we were willing partners in crimes of the British Empire.
Many may look to Tom Ellis   a Welsh politician who was the leader of Cymru Fydd, a movement aimed at gaining home rule for Wales. Ellis  as the founder of modern Welsh Nationalism. Ellis was a proponent of Pan-Celticism, stating "We must work for bringing together Celtic reformers and Celtic peoples. The interests of Irishmen, Welshmen and [Scottish] Crofters are almost identical. Their past history is very similar, their present oppressors are the same and their immediate wants are the same.
However Tom Ellis, according to Kenneth O Morgan, was a 'nationalist of a complex kind'. On the one hand he was deeply rooted in the Methodist tradition, with a love of Welsh poetry and literature. He regarded himself as a follower of Mazzini, and his support for Cymru Fydd made him a prominent advocate of Home Rule. In contrast, he became an admirer of Cecil Rhodes, whom he had met in Cape Colony and his acceptance of government office attracted criticism from some of his erstwhile supporters.

This is a complex issue , but if we are to present ourselves as victims of colonialism. don't acknowledge our role in the crimes of the British Empire


Arthur Owen,Caerdydd said...

I agree with almost all you say,but the Welshmen in Zulu were mainly Birmingham-Irish,typical of imperialists to set one oppressed people against another,except the Zulus were not oppressed in 1879.

Leigh Richards said...

Certainly there were people in Wales complicit in the crimes of the british empire glyn - but youll often find the same people in Wales who profited from the slave trade profited from exploiting working class people in Wales too. Also dont forget that during the era talked about Wales was a de facto part of England - wales as a nation had no means of divorcing itself from the expansionist policies of the british state. And while i never agreed with Adam's call for 'reparations' for Wales it remains a fact that the british state has exploited wales for centuries

glynbeddau said...

Arthur: You are of course correct but the perception remains.

Leigh : also makes a valid point, but there is no doubt in my mind that the Welsh, Scottish, and indeed Irish were often enthusiastic supporters of imperialism , whilst not realising that they had more in common with those parts of the parts of the Empire that were being economically raped by Empire.

Indeed most of the soldier from the whole of the UK and also other parts of the Empire enlisted because of the economic depravity back home.