Proposition: "To be truly Welsh, you have to be white."

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Proposition: "To be truly Welsh, you have to be white." Empty Proposition: "To be truly Welsh, you have to be white."

Post  MH on Mon 1 Dec 2008 - 19:39

In the Daily Post last week was this headline:

Shocking poll: "If you’re not white you’re not Welsh"

OUTRAGE was sparked yesterday after thousands of people in Wales told a poll they believe you have to be white to be truly Welsh.

Responding to the statement “to be truly Welsh, you have to be white”, 3.1% said they strongly agreed and 7.9% tended to agree, according to a survey published yesterday. The combined figures mean 136,351 people agreed with the statement.

The findings came from the wide-ranging Living in Wales Survey, commissioned by the Assembly Government.

More than half (50.7%) strongly disagreed and 30.2% tended to disagree.

26 Nov 2008 by Tom Bodden, Daily Post
I probably don't have to tell anyone who has read anything I've posted on other forums that I am in the "strongly disagree" camp. Yet I want to approach this in a more measured way, simply because the 11% minority who broadly agree are still a significant proportion of people in Wales.

As always, the first thing to do is look at the actual data, rather than the "shock horror" headlines. Here is a link to the document:

SB 67/2008 Living in Wales Survey 2007

The first thing is to note that the Living in Wales survey is conducted regularly. If you look at Charts 8 and 9 you will see that there is not all that much difference between 2005, 2006 and 2007. This is not new news!

Although we can take some comfort from the fact that those who strongly agree has gone down, the proportion that strongly disagree has also gone down. In order to find comfort, it's best to look at the age distribution in Chart 2: younger people are much more likely to disagree than older people, and this obviously bodes well for the future.

However, the thing that caught my attention was Chart 7, shown below:

Proposition: "To be truly Welsh, you have to be white." Chart7-1

Of those who agreed with the statement, only 55% agreed with the statement "to be truly British, you have to be white." 32% disagreed.

This is interesting because it says something about how "being Welsh" and "being British" are perceived. It appears that some people (and remember that we are now only breaking down the views of a small 11% minority) are quite prepared to think of "Britishness" as a national rather than racial identity, but are not prepared to do the same for "Welshness". In some ways this is understandable. First because the only thing on offer in the UK is British citizenship; second because, especially in England, non-white people have prefered to think of themselves as British rather than English, or Welsh.

The challenge for us who want to see an independent Wales is to change this perception. We must hammer home the point that we regard being "Welsh" as a national, rather than racial identity. In other words that our nationalism is an inclusive, civic nationalism that is not afraid of diversity.

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