British or Welsh?

Caerphilly council has advised its staff not to use the term “British”, in case it offends people who call themselves Welsh. It has sparked plenty of discussion in newspapers and on line.

For me, the important point is the council wants to mirror how people see themselves, rather than dictate it.

The South Wales Echo reported Ron Davies, director of Valleys Race and Equality Council (Valrec), said 3,900 of Caerphilly council’s employees described themselves as white British, but 5,400 described themselves as white Welsh.

Welsh people are British, but they are also Welsh. Similarly, a child might call every blue colour blue, until he or she learns to differentiate between shades.

Glyn Davis, Conservative Assembly Member for the Mid and West Wales, said: “Individuals should be free to decide whether they want to be thought of as British or Welsh – or anything else for that matter.”

Although, a few years ago, I defended my Welsh identity, I now think nationality is too complex to put people in a few simple boxes.

When I moved to Brighton in 2003, my Devonshire housemate seemed overly keen to clarify my nationality.

He said: “You’re not Welsh, you’re English. You’re English because your parents are English.”

“But I was born in Wales,” I said. “I’m Welsh.”

He wouldn’t accept I am Welsh.

I am Welsh, but I am also British and my great-grandparents were Jewish Polish. At one stage, I just said I was me-ish.

Dan O’Neill in the Echo said Valrec are too politically correct, but what if they had refused to listen to the 5,400 people who claimed to be Welsh rather than British?

The council’s website said:

“This council recognises that people have different needs, requirements and goals and we will work actively against all forms of discrimination by promoting good relations and mutual respect within and between our communities and our workforce.”

The council seems to want to show it appreciates the difference between a British identity and a Welsh identity, which makes sense to me, because surely everybody likes to be appreciated.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “British or Welsh?

  1. David O'Neill

    My dad is half-Irish and half-Welsh, but was born in England and has lived there all of his life.

  2. cjshankleman

    That’s interesting David. Does he see himself as British, Irish, Welsh or English?

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