A sentiment bound to upset the Brit nationalists in the Labour Party. As was to be expected, the bloke who follows the Lord Mayor's Show turned up in today's letters page in the guise of Huw Lewis AM.
How fitting that Jan Morris made mention of Abercuawg, or home of the cuckoo, in her article (Our nation may at last achieve serenity, August 6) because it is clear that she was visiting cloud cuckoo land when she wrote it. Not content at inventing for the UK "a public culture of greed, gameshow, tabloid celebrity and national pretension", she goes on to say that South Wales conjures images of "prejudice, distrust, envy, resentment and plain dislike". She then has the audacity to describe her vision of Wales as a "friendly little country"!
Yes, Labour in Wales has entered into a coalition with Plaid Cymru, but we did so in order to keep delivering on issues like jobs and tackling child poverty - not to develop a quasi-fascistic rural idyll that so enthrals Ms Morris and her cultural nationalist clique. I hear that her travel writing is excellent; I'd suggest a visit to Planet Earth as the next destination.
Huw Lewis AM
Lab, Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney
Huw makes a fair point when he comments that this article isn't up to Jan's usual excellent standards. Introducing her thesis by referring to Abercuawg was an open goal for Cloud Cuckoo-land responses, which I would have expected a writer of Jan's experience to have foreseen and avoided. And like Huw I thought that Jan's comments about the urban and industrial parts of our country were unworthy, unhelpful and unnecessary.
It is however a shame that Huw had to spoil his response by referring to Jan as a Quasi-Fascist - which she clearly isn't. Jan has been writing for the best part of 60 years, all of her writing has a radical and libertarian streak that is anathema to Fascism. Jan's war record, as a member of the intelligence services during the Second World War and as a reporter in subsequent wars is proof that she has been an active and vocal opponent of Fascism in all its guises. Her personal circumstances have made Jan a target of vile abuse by the far right. To call Jan Morris a Quasi-Fascist is, therefore, below the belt.
Calling political opponents Fascists is common currency within the Labour party. A few weeks ago Betty Williams is supposed to have commented that all Plaid supporters in north West Wales are Fascists. To be fair to Labour, Welsh nationalists are not above this sort of insult - all too often supporters of the national movement refer to the policies of those with differing opinion as being supporters of ethnic cleansing or linguistic genocide.
This may be dismissed as part of the political banter between people of differing opinions, as harmless fun, as part of the rough and tumble of political life.
Personally I find it worrying.
The problem is that warning people that Nick Griffin is a Fascist is worthless if you have already called Jan Morris, Saunders Lewis, Gwynfor Evans, George Thomas or John Redwood Fascists.
Telling people that the BNP is a neo-fascist party, when Plaid, Labour, Conservative and the Lib Dem's have also been called neo fascists by their opponents just makes people react to the warnings about the BNP with a Yeh! Yeh! Heard that insult before attitude.
The real Fascists came within a couple of thousand votes of winning a seat in the last Assembly election. Proper Fascism is a real and present danger in Wales today. Diluting the anti Fascist message by using the term "fascist" for the sake of political banter isn't just insulting to people with differing legitimate political opinions, it is the political equivalent of crying wolf. With the real Fascist wolf approaching our flock, there is a danger that the warning cries will be ignored because we have all heard the false cries too many times before.