The reification of Welsh rugby

(Also available to read on Medium)

A shiver down the collective spine of the Welsh nation: international rugby (or, one presumes, that which is presented in the English language) may soon disappear from free-to-air television. This has obviously created a degree of collective consternation about the implication for Welsh mass culture, and rugby’s apparently totemic place within it.

This mass panic is renewing calls for devolved broadcasting, among other things, and is shining a light on how Welsh interests are marginalised in an increasingly homogenised British discourse. Yet this (righteous and welcome) campaign is in danger of erasing the deeper cultural logic of rugby in Wales, what its political economy is, and the class relations bound up therein.

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Solving problems the Welsh way

So, after a year of chaos and misery for workers in Gwent, there is some suggestion that perhaps removing the tolls from the Severn Bridges was a terrible idea after all. All of the fears of commuters have come to pass: traffic has increased dramatically, pollution is reaching ever-more toxic levels, communities have been turned upside down, everybody is immiserated. No workers on the frontline of this crisis ever wanted this: it was a pet project of the Wales Office, cheered on by the CBI and that amorphous entity known as ‘local business owners’. A familiar story of capital ruining the lives of helpless workers.

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The Election That Never Took Place (Planet)

Gareth Leaman details the reasons why Wales as a partially devolved polity barely existed in the UK general election campaign. He describes the troubling dilemmas for parties who want to defend Wales against the depredations of a Tory-led British state. What can be learnt for the future?

Available to Planet subscribers online and in print

Unserious ideas for serious times

It’s a familiar melancholy, seeing Jeremy Corbyn, like Leanne Wood before him, becoming a more radical yet more marginalised voice within his party, post-leadership. Both Corbyn and Wood were deemed to have failed electorally by their internal detractors, but achieved far more than they’ll ever be given credit for by changing the conversation around what their parties should be trying to achieve. There are pressures within both parties now to chase shallow electoralism in place of building a meaningful political movement, but this is wholly inadequate for parties positing themselves as a progressive electoral force in Wales and beyond.

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New Solidarities in Wales (Tribune)

There are numerous conflicting prognoses of Wales’ future, but in the present moment we know this much to be true: almost a third of children in Wales live in poverty; the rollout of the UK government’s latest punitive welfare regime will affect a third of Welsh households; a post-industrial plague of scarce, low-quality employment is leaving whole swathes of the country without basic means of survival. Within weeks, this same country can go to the polls and help hand power to a Labour government with the means and will to fundamentally reverse many of the political choices that have led to such cruelty. Whatever one’s long-term political project, this is not an opportunity to be spurned lightly.

Read the full article on the Tribune website

Chartists in the Newport Afterlife (the welsh agenda)

To live and grow up in Newport is to be irrevocably intertwined with the historical forces that built this city. Symbols of the past are etched into the landscape: what we might call our ‘industrial heritage’ is all around us. But these totems are not fossilised relics, and they’re not engaged with passively: they’re the milieu of our everyday life.

Full article available in the Autumn/Winter 2019 edition of ‘the welsh agenda’

On the renaming of the National Assembly

The Welsh Government wants to give the National Assembly for Wales a new bilingual name instead of a Welsh-only moniker.”

This shouldn’t be what ‘bilingualism’ is. ‘Bilingualism’ should have the confidence to give our institutions one name that everybody is empowered to use; not concocting a situation whereby two languages live parallel lives and never intersect.

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