Does Britain Mean the Same to You as Britain Means to Me?

Gareth Young aka Toque has an interesting post on the Click on Wales Blog site about Ed Milliband's rather odd speech on Defending the Union in England

There is much in Gareth's critique of Mr Milliband's speech that I agree with, read his article!

What I find interesting in Mr Milliband's speech is his odd claim that we can all be equally British

Having to say: Scottish or British, Welsh or British English or British I don’t accept any of that., he says. But he doesn't acknowledge that being "British" might mean different things to different Britons!

I am Welsh and British, but my Britishness comes from the fact that I belong to the Britons who held most of this Island before the Romans and the Anglo Saxons and Normans poked their unwelcome noses into our affairs. My claim to Britishness is one that is superior to the English claim to Britishness!

The Scots are British by virtue of what was supposed to be a marriage of equal's so since the 1700's the Scots have been as equally British as the English.

Many of the English, however, don't seem to accept that there is a difference between being English and being British. During the 1966 World Cup challenge the Union Flag was the prevalent flag. During the Euro 2012 challenge almost every supermarket in Wales has had support OUR (England) team marketing. Even Welsh Rugby Matches on S4C have been inundated by the rather unfortunately predictive Mars Bar advert!

Being English and British to many English people has no resonance – they are two sides of the same coin – two words that mean exactly the same. Mr Milliband proved this when he said in defence of his Speech Keir Hardy was born in Scotland, represented a Welsh constituency and sat in the ENGLISH parliament. - not the British Parliament, the English Parliament!

Being British in England, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall and the North of Ireland means completely different things to different people!

Even our definition of Britishness is a means to divide us rather than a label to unite us!


  1. Born in Wales I use "Welsh" and "British" as interchangeable labels, my English in-laws use "English" and "British" in much the same way, its a sense of equality, it means much the same ...

    ... except possibly during the 6 nations.

  2. John, I suggest - or hope - that for you those terms have distinct meanings. Whereas for your in-laws they are most likely synonymous.

  3. I'm off to work Jack (12.00 - 21.00), your question is far too complicated for a quick comment, I might write a blog on "Nationality" in response.

  4. Born in Scotland of a Scottish father and English mother, brought in Scotland and England, lived all over the place from 16 'til I was 26; since then I have lived in one village in wild west Wales. I'm definitely Scottish/Welsh/British and not English ;-)

  5. I don't care about the history or who was here first. I don't care about DNA, skin colour or what god you prey to.

    The only thing I believe in is that the moment you cross our border you should want what is best for Wales.

    That is why I am not British.

    1. British means one who belongs to the British Isles – Welsh means a foreigner – one who doesn't belong here. One could make a pedantic and possibly racist claim that the English are the Welsh, but the Welsh are the only real British!

      The point I was trying to make is that when Mr Milliband says that "we are all British" as an unionist point is that he is missing the more pertinent point that British may mean different things to different people; that the concept of Britishness is divisive rather than unifying!

      I am as "Welsh" as you but I hate that term – I am not a foreigner in my own country I am a Brython and a Cymro I am absolutely not etymologically Welsh!

  6. Welsh not British, somewhat naive don't you think. 'What is best for Wales' very much depends upon who you are asking. A Welsh Assembly politician, a Welshman, someone living in Wales who is not Welsh, a Jew, an asylum seeker, a destitute person and so on. Each will tell you what is good for Wales and each will be correct from their point of view at that time. But only at that time.

    If you can accept this, and I am sure that you can, why is it so hard for you to accept the term 'British'. It has no hard and fast meaning to the majority but I can accept that it does have for you.

    (Incidentally, the people of Iran in 1979 thought that the best thing for them was to have an Islamic revolution and so that is what they got. No detailed planning, just revolution. At the moment many of us think the best thing for Wales is to become independent. But have any one of us done any serious planning? I don't think so. And as the Iranian experience shows, once you take such a decision there ain't no way back!).

  7. It's interesting that you chose Iran as your example and not Germany.

  8. In Germany there was always a plan, a grand vision made up of many detailed parts. That's why an Austrian was allowed to come to power. Nothing was left to chance. But it as taken too far. Of course it was.

    In Iran there was never a plan, just a dream. And dreams have a habit of turning into nightmares. As has happened.

  9. So you call killing 6 million Jews "taking things too far".

  10. Yea, KP sounds a bit disturbing. Maybe there is one thing we can take from Iran. In 1935 they persuaded the outside world to call their country Iran as they did instead of Persia. If it was not for the expense we could rebrand ourselves as Cymry instead of Welsh which means foreigners or slaves. But I don't think we can stop being British because the Welsh were the original Britons. As late as the 17th century the language was sometimes called 'British.'

    In recent years I've been subjected to a lot of anti-Welsh racism, based entirely on ignorance. It's pushed me towards supporting nationalism especially as Leanne Wood's socialist principles seem our best defence against Cameron's Tories. I also see it as the only sure way of preserving our language and culture.

    We have to accept though that some people's nationalism is quite different from Leanne Wood's.I knew a really crazy Welsh nationalist who fought for the mujahadeen and for Croatia in the genocidal war. I'm sure he was a one off. But at Cilmeri I've heard people singing songs advocating racist murder and glorifying Auschwitz.

    On the defunct 'Welsh Ramblings' I've seen an apparently serious article on how teenage mothers should be imprisoned and kept in line in prison, especially if they persist in wearing revealing outfits.

    Even Jac o' the North has said that he would like to live in a Welsh state based on Putin's Russia. He's also made some unintentionally offensive remarks about disabled people in his blog in relation to the Paralympics. I did not read it thoroughly and I thought he was being daft and ignorant but not deliberately offensive. But now disability groups have picked up on it and given him an award for unpleasantness. They referred to his private musings as 'obscene' and commented bitterly that the independent Wales he wanted to see would no doubt be a Nazi state. This is an embarrassment to all of us.

    Our language is the oldest literary language in Western Europe with tremendous poetry. Yet people, not otherwise obviously moronic, sneer at it as 'not a proper language' or 'not fit for cultural purposes.' Some idiot told me that we have no culture at all.

    On the basis that to be respected, a language needs an army, a navy and an air force, I was beginning to feel passionately that we needed independence or at least devo -max and this would also deliver socialism. Some of my friends and I would hapily devote ourselves to this project. But is it worth it if we save our distinct identity at the cost of living in a fascist state? of course not. Even ethnocide is preferable to fascism.Can anyone reassure us that these fascists are not representative and will not come to power?

    Marianne Y Fenni