Monday, 2 June 2008

Free Wales and Free Scotland

While we had the caravan on the Lleyn peninsula we were quite used to the slogans that adorned walls, roads, and any other handy location in that very Welsh and Welsh-speaking art of the country.
The local views in that part of Gwynedd vary from being happy with the current political set-up (probably a minority) to wanting a totally independent country (probably equally a minority). Somewhere between lie the majority who simply want an extension of what Wales already has - a separate parliament - but with greater resources and more teeth.

The biggest arguments that I heard there revolved around the issues of greater acknowledgement for the Welsh language and some recognition of the lack of Welsh representation on the Union Flag. The flag of Wales incorporates the red dragon (Y Ddraig Goch) of Prince Cadwalader along with the Tudor colours of green and white. It was used by Henry VII at the battle of Bosworth in 1485 after which it was carried in state to St. Paul's Cathedral. The red dragon was then included in the Tudor royal arms to signify their Welsh descent. It was officially recognised as the Welsh national flag in 1959. The British Union Flag incorporates the flags of Scotland, Ireland and England but does not have any Welsh representation. Technically, however, it is represented by the flag of England due to the Laws in Wales act of 1535 which annexed Wales following the 13th century conquest.

For the first time since being up on Lewis I have come across a visible sign of discontent with the political situation of Scotland - a Free Scotland sticker on a lamppost.

Based in Shetland, the Free Scotland Party is “a democratic political party committed to an Independent Scotland, outwith the United Kingdom, outwith the European Union. Free Scotland will accomplish this by democratic means through the ballot box“. Its overall aim is "A government in Scotland elected by and answerable ONLY to voters in Scotland".

What surprised me in both the website of Free Scotland and that of the Scottish National Party was the absence of a Gaelic option for viewing and reading their site. By contrast, not only is Plaid Cymru’s very name Welsh but the welcome in Welsh precedes that in English - Croeso i wefan swyddogol Plaid Cymru. .

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