Thursday, 1 November 2012

Ar ôl deng mlynedd ar hugain

It's wrong, isn't it? Just this once, I swear, blame Google Translate. I know, I'll be using Wikipedia next.

Google also gave me Ddeng mlynedd ar hugain ar, which I suspect might be even worse, merely "thirty years" and "on" shunted together. But you will have worked out by now that I am open to correction.

Anyway, the real point of this post is today's thirtieth birthday of S4C. That Gwynfor Evans threatened to go on hunger strike if the Thatcher Government reneged on its, and Labour's, 1979 commitment to a Welsh-language television channel recalls an age when the Conservatives saw much point in trying to win seats in Wales while Labour saw much point in trying to win them in rural areas, for where the two intersect is where Welsh is most commonly spoken.

Indeed, Evans had in 1979 lost his own rural, Welsh-speaking seat of Carmarthen to a Labour candidate who was at most a mild devolutionist. Earlier that year, Welsh-speaking Wales had voted No to devolution by the same enormous margin as English-speaking Wales. 20 years later, whereas the split by language ran and runs North-South, the split on devolution ran East-West. How the world turns. And how quickly.

But there is still the odd pocket of the old order. Ynys Môn, the most northerly seat in Wales and as solidly Welsh-speaking as its name suggests, was Conservative in 1982 and is now fought out between Plaid Cymru and Labour, with the latter currently holding the seat, and with the Conservatives in a respectable third place, especially since their vote increased very dramatically indeed last time.

If Labour recovers the rural Radicalism and the basically Nonconformist peace tradition that created it in the first place, then there are no no-go areas for it in 2015. In fact, of the areas that could thus be reached, the presence of Plaid Cymru make North, West and to an extent Mid Wales the hardest nuts to crack. The loss of the 2014 referendum on independence will have the SNP on the run. While the West Country and its hinterland are just there for the taking. So take them.

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