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Global Britons Forum in Wales

Article by Foreign Policy Centre

September 15, 2006

Global Britons Forum
Tuesday 11th of February, 2003 (12.30-3.30pm)
Conference rooms A and B, National Assembly for Wales, Cardiff Bay, Cardiff


Launch of the forum by Rt. Hon. Rhodri Morgan AM

Wales to me is the ultimate paradox of a country in the devolutional context. On the one hand, its history means that Wales today enjoys huge diversity. Because of the explosive growth of its population in the first half of the 19th century, Wales developed, earlier than most other European countries, a diverse ethnicity that went side-by-side industrialisation and globalization. The economic expansion and the importance of its seaports made Wales much more like America than other parts of Europe – creating a cosmopolitan, multi-ethnic, multi-religious country much earlier than any other part of Britain and Europe. On the other hand, Wales has maintained its cultural integrity through its language. Whereas Ireland and Scotland lost their Celtic languages, Wales had the opposite experience.

If you define Britishness as being how mainstream you are relative to the rest of Britain, then industrialisation and globalisation do make Wales quite like England. English is now predominantly spoken especially by the ethnic minorities in the east of Wales. At the same time, the western part of Wales is more like the Irish Republic even though the Irish Republic has had 80 years of political independence.

I think many people, especially in London, thought that devolution would be damaging to the ethnic minorities in Wales. They thought that it would represent an ethnic purity and parental heritage which would be a disadvantage to ethnic communities in Wales. I do not think we ever want to revert back to the famous line of complacency about race relations in Wales: ‘We’re all black underground aren’t we?’ This complacent line can mean that all is well and good in race relations in Wales, which is not the case. However, the experience in Wales that derives from devolution is that we can have mixed ethnicity in a way that devolution has not caused people to become second class citizens either. Devolution for Wales is about clarity about what it is to be British.

If people think that to be British means that you are English with perhaps a bit of influence from Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland added on post-devolution, they have not understood most people’s association with being British. What devolution has done is to unpack the word ‘Britishness’ back to its proper meaning. ‘Britishness’ after devolution has accurately reflected for the first time in almost 300 years why you have to invest the word British to describe what has been assembled over centuries in a large country (England) and three small Celtic countries, one of which had had a major part in globalisation and industrialisation and the establishment of multi-ethnicity in Britain probably earlier than London and the other major trading west-coast trading ports of Liverpool and Bristol.

I am not saying that our experience of devolution has been particularly positive for ethnic communities, but it hasn’t been negative for these communities either. The reason why people suspected it would be negative was because our experience of multi-ethnicity was very unlike that of London. People’s fears of what would happen in Wales post-devolution were based on ignorance of what Wales was actually like and what the areas where multi-ethnicity has been established were like. I do not believe that multi-ethnic communities are worse off now than they were before devolution even though there are no ethnic minority representatives in a 60 seat Welsh Assembly.

Finally, I do think that people have to understand the paradox of Wales: the Celtic nature of Wales; the globalised and industrialised nature of Wales; and how this has impacted on our lengthy experience of multi-ethnicity on a par, if not longer, than any other part of Europe.

Panel discussion

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, The Foreign Policy Centre
I think that there is a danger that the devolved nations are becoming a little too complacent. As an outsider from Wales, perhaps I can say things that black and Asian people in Wales find it hard to say without spoiling a rather marvelous party.

My sense is that devolution, rather like multiculturalism, is an enormous self-loving project which needs to be questioned. I think that all societies need to take stock periodically and test whether existing cultural and political systems are keeping up with the people and their evolving habitat. Nothing is forever. Progressive ideas like devolution and multi-culturalism are appropriate for one historical moment but can decay if they become complacent in the face of further progress. I believe that this is happening across Britain today.

Policies and politics that had to be fought for to challenge the hegemony of old British power structures, or should I say English power structures, are today creating new dilemmas, injustices and exclusions. The struggles for devolution and multicultural rights were both vital in the dark days of Conservative Party rule when it seemed as if nothing could be shaken. Those battles were very important and correct. They delivered important results. It is obviously empowering to be Scottish and Welsh, Muslim, Black, Hindu, and feel as if we are present in the country. While the Welsh Assembly and the Scottish Parliament have not delivered power-sharing, the British Parliament is changing, not fast enough, but it is changing. Even television has changed beyond recognition. There are still too many problems inside institutions like the BBC, but just five years ago we did not have what today we take for granted. So there have been some developments.

But the side-effect has been that millions of people who live on this island no longer feel themselves to be British. British identity is no longer the colonial identity. Part of the struggle for ethnic minorities was to reclaim Britishness and make it theirs. The Daily Telegraph now says that chicken tikka masala is our national dish. They may be trite examples, but the ethnic minorities have changed the definition of Britishness and it saddens me that just when ethnic minorities got there, the carpet has been pulled from under our feet and new identities have emerged.

Another problem is that the people who are committed to multiculturalism have taken us down another set of dead-end roads. Certainly in the last 3 to 4 years, the politics of identity has revealed the dangers of not having enough pressure on us to think in terms of who we are in terms of our primary identity, but also in terms of the obligations to build up a sense of belonging to a greater whole. I do not think that those of us who are fighting for multiculturalism have done that enough. I am not talking in terms of David Blunkett’s ideas: ‘it is our country and you have to be like us and behave’. But I do think that there has to be certain principles and that those should apply to whether you are Welsh or Muslim.

Charlotte Williams, author of ‘Sugar and Slate’

As a starting point, I want to throw into the debate a number of apparent contradictions that the whole issue of ‘Global Britons’ poses for black and ethnic minority communities in Wales.

People like Tom Nairn, Jeremy Paxman and Andrew Marr have all invited us to consider what it means to be British, to explore the so-called ‘crisis of British identity’. It is trendy to talk about identity.

But this is not new to black and ethnic minority communities in Wales. We know who we are! We are, and have always been, Global Britons. The challenge always comes to light when we are asked the question ‘where are you from?’ to which my answer ‘Llandudno’ is never enough. ‘No, where are you really from?’ they ask ‘where were you from before you were born?’. The issues relating to identity come to us when we are young. We manage our relationships with big continents on our shoulders – continents of our ancestral heritage. At the same time, we are the shapers and the influences of new identities in our places of settlement. We are the ones that have been fundamentally redefining notions of Britishness through the politics of presence – long before the so-called ‘Break up of Britain’.

Therefore, I believe a number of contradictions arise.

Whilst it is enjoyable to talk about issues of identity, the important questions are about citizenship. The big issues for us are about redistribution, representation, security and presence. That’s what we need to be talking about – let’s keep that in focus.

You can celebrate your difference and diversity as long as you have passed all those tests of allegiance and attachment. Tebbit’s cricket test, Blunkett’s language test, marriage tests, and latterly, of course, the terrorism test since asylum seekers and refugees are now terrorists as well as scroungers. New sets of tests continue to emerge.

In Wales, we face further levels of scrutiny of our credentials before we can settle or have access to certain places. Who’s your mother? Who’s her mother? Where did they come from?

Furthermore, the test of Britishness doesn’t work in Wales because in Wales British equals English – and the claims of Britishness are seen as anti-Welsh. Welsh identity itself has been forged and strengthened in opposition to notions of Britishness and Englishness.

Yasmin’s book After Multiculturalism provides an interesting perspective, especially for us in Wales, because race in Wales has never been simply a colour issue. The colour divide has never wholly described our race relations in a society where the narratives of race cover Welsh /English language divisions, Anglo Saxon/Celtic divisions and even at times the Welsh north/south divisions.

Where do we from black and ethnic minority communities fit into these constellations? Well, we get mixed messages about belonging and we find ourselves on the front line of anti-English sentiments, caught in some strange cross -fire. Britishness and Black Britishness, therefore, has limited currency for some of us in Wales.

What has political devolution meant for us in the black and ethnic minority communities of Wales?
Well, we are now on the public policy agenda as we never have been before. Much of the apathy around race has gone.

Nonetheless, in line with the whole of Europe, we have an all white Assembly. While representation will not be resolved by the presence of one black face on the Assembly, one black face signals an important message of inclusion. Because our political clout at all levels of government and public office remains very weak the mixed message has been that the rhetoric of ‘inclusion’ has not been matched by visible representation. Where it counts, Wales is still a very closed society.

Yasmin has suggested that too often black and ethnic minority communities find themselves “dancing our own dances on the sidelines.” Up until now we have been sceptical about the National Assembly for Wales as a nationalist project and held back from interfering with the nation-building process. But things are changing. In the past we have demanded very little of Wales, but now we are knocking the doors of the corridors of power. We are participating in an unprecedented scale. But there is a price for this:
Many of us have become politically ethnicised when we were just not ‘ethnic’ before. We are politically mobilised, but at the same time, we are increasingly being forced into somewhat artificial ethnic categories.

It has made us turn on each other, fighting for the morsels of bread they throw us. We fight for the white limelight. Are we more open or more parochial? More global and internationalist or more focused on our in-house squabbling?

We are loaded with the heavy burden of consultation to communities that just do not have that capacity.

We are challenging the construction of Welsh national identity. We are forcing the powers to engage with civil as opposed to ethnic national identity as our votes become more important to them.

At the same time, few people from black and ethnic minorities feel sufficiently a sense of inclusion to confidently claim Welsh identity. And that brings us back to dominant notions of who is or is not ‘proper Welsh’ and how we all contribute to building exclusive versions of Welsh identity. It also relates to claims of place, space and territory – and the distinct geographical boundary of what is considered ‘black Wales’ ie: a very small part of Cardiff.

Also, I have argued elsewhere that dialogues on national identity rarely come together – the Welsh speaking communities, the black communities, the Welsh-English and the English-Welsh are having vital conversations, but rarely do we have these together to really debate the fact that there are ‘many ways of being Welsh’ which brings consensus, as well as conflicts within our national imagining.

What I am arguing is that in debates about national identity, globalisation etc., we receive a number of contradictory messages. Progressive politics does not necessarily lead to a participatory culture or to a society that is truly multicultural. I believe, we are yet to really test the limits of ‘inclusion’.

Professor Kevin Morgan, Cardiff University

If Britishness is worth defending, then it needs to be reinvented and understood as an expression of multiple identities in which cultural diversity coexists with a common sense of citizenship. This is a far cry from the traditional definitions of Britishness of the last 100 years. What was at the heart of that definition was an Anglo-centric idea of identity which is heavily biased towards southern England and is mono-cultural.

An excellent example of Britishness as an expression of multiple identities is the revisionist history of our country by Norman Davis. Davis gives the concept of multiple-identity a human face. He dedicates his book to his grandfather who was English by birth, Welsh by conviction, Lancasterian by choice and British by chance. This light-hearted example shows that all of us subscribe to a multiple notion of identity, even if we are not aware of it.

In regards to devolution, the most important thing to remember is that it is not necessarily progressive or regressive. It depends on what it does on its social and political agenda. Consider Berlusconi’s Italy where it is anything but progressive.

In Wales, we have to ask whether devolution has in any way strengthened the multicultural identities within Wales itself? To my knowledge, it has not. Although it may at some point in the future.

This question also seems to presuppose that it is a vibrant force in the lives of the people of Wales. But it is not. Devolution is a minority sport [sic] for those people who work with the Assembly. Those people know that devolution is a highly significant institutional innovation and a major inroad into the centralised, London-based British state. However, for the rest of the people in Wales, the Assembly is irrelevant. Only 25% of the eligible electorate voted for it. I am hoping, for the Assembly’s sake, that the turnout in the May assembly elections is above 40%. Devolution needs to become more relevant to the people, if we want to embed it in the politics of Wales today.

Has devolution raised national self-confidence, regardless of the identities we have? I think that it will in time, but that the answer today is no. What is my evidence for this? I have not done any polling. I simply rely on my own experience. Just notice the near national apoplexy which is induced in our national debate when Ann Robinson makes a cruel and flippant comment, or when David Blunkett makes a silly remark. Welsh self-confidence is a fragile flower and it will remain so until the Assembly can engage more clearly.

Finally, there is an external dimension to identity. How do others perceive us? The British Council wrote a report a couple of years ago called ‘Through other’s eyes.’ This report asked an overseas panel: ‘what comes to mind about the identities of Scotland?’ The answers included: Kilts, whiskey and bag-pipes. The point is that these are all indigenous aspects of Scottish life. The report then asked: ‘what comes to mind about the identities of Wales?’ Answers included: Princess Diana, The Prince of Wales and the Royal Family. So people still retain these images of Wales long after we have changed key aspects of our identity. Our national self-confidence remains incredibly fragile despite the existence of the Welsh Assembly. It will remain so until the Assembly can persuade more people that devolution has made a difference.

Merryl Wyn Davies, co-author of ‘Why do People Hate America?’

I would like to pose the question: What is identity for?

I believe identity is rooted in culture, and in Wales that is more than just a sociological truism. It was cultural activism that brought the Welsh Assembly into existence. Identity is a repertoire, it cannot be reduced to one ‘correct’ way of being Welsh, British, Muslim, Hindu or anything else. It is a repertoire of ideas, of shared but invested values, experiences and history. In this context, identity is our passport to understanding others.

I come from Merthyr Tydfil. When I was at school, we had to study not only Welsh for two years, but also Welsh history. In Welsh history class, we were taught the secret history of Merthyr Tydfil. This taught us how a town that was the world’s largest producer of iron and steel could be invisible and unmentioned in every economic history textbook written about Britain.

There are many other secret histories. A globalised world is full of secret histories and secret cultural performance that nobody knows about, are not shared and are soundless. What do people in Britain know about what happens in Wembley on Diwali, or in Southall on Guru Nanak’s birthday, or in Regent’s Park during Eid? The things that we know as our identity are the building blocks with which we connect to other people’s histories. That to me is what identity is for.

A lot of the ways that we discuss the awful traumas of Welshness or Britishness are far too reductive and small-scale for the discussion about what identity is for. We need to find the sources in our own history and experience that allow us to administer, manage and operate a globalised world for human betterment. If we are unable to find the sources and meaning of this in our own identity, we end up as globalised youngsters and victims of consumer culture who complain ‘I wish I had a culture – I wish I had something to believe in.’ That is the real dimension of what the identity debate is missing.

Lynne Williams, chairperson of Cardiff 2008 European City of Culture bid
How have globalisation and devolution impacted the local identity in Cardiff and is this part of a new cultural awakening?

As I began to put together the bid for Cardiff 2008, I went to diverse parts of the city to ask questions. I listened to the locals about what it meant to them to live in Cardiff, about their culture, whether they felt included in the city’s cultural agenda and whether Cardiff deserved to play a leading role in Europe. I also listened to what their aspirations were for themselves, their city and their nation. What I found was an acknowledgement that they felt proper Welsh and proper British and certainly Cardivian. They recognised that they now defined themselves as belonging to a place where their aspirations could be met and where they could make a positive contribution to their community, as well as by their ethnic origin. It appeared that identity was bound up in choice – it was about choosing to work, live and play in a city. It was about a sense of place. Part of the Cardiff 2008 bid was a collection of verses that people in Cardiff had written. One simple, but moving piece was written by a German: ‘Here in Cardiff I am German. Back in Germany we were Jews. Here though, no one called us names, here in Cardiff we were welcome.’

As the bidding process progressed, I got the sense that Cardiff has always been an intensely international city – celebrating historic ties with the Celtic countries, developing economic and cultural connections with countries right across the globe, and especially since devolution, redefining relationships with the cities and regions of England and of Europe. As a port, Cardiff linked Wales to the world. It attracted droves of people, goods, cultures. Ship came to Cardiff from all over the world filled with stone and ballast with which to construct the city. The people who came with the ships made an equally significant contribution to the city and those that left with the ships created a Welsh diaspora across the world. The industrial and trade links forged throughout the word still endure. Cultural links between mining communities in Wales and Poland, Australia and South Africa remain important. Long-standing Yemeni and Somali communities in Cardiff have enriched the culture immeasurably. Cardiff and Wales have a long tradition of inclusiveness. This means that they are better able to handle the challenges of today’s world than people from many other parts of Britain. However, there is still much to do and we face future challenges.

If we want a definition of Britishness and Welshness that truly takes on board the issues of diversity, migration and globalisation, then we need a mechanism to drive change, to educate, to develop relationships, to increase tolerance and to reduce the fear of the unknown. I believe that the greatest driver for this type of change lies within a cultural agenda. By culture, I mean the activities that help to define our way of life, how we express ourselves, how we choose to spend our leisure time, how we explore our different notions of creativity. The arts, for example, play a vital role in enabling us to express our deepest feelings. A common language enables us to express feelings of loss, anger and joy. The arts provide a focal point around which we share and dispute meanings. They function as a medium of exchange and give us different ways of viewing the world. The arts use metaphor to draw out similarity between difference.

There is a growing cultural awakening in Cardiff and a recognition that the city’s diverse communities are playing an important role. There are many projects that Cardiff has done to improve the participation of minority communities in the city and beyond, creating a shared sense on ownership of the bidding process. There is a celebration of the city throughout Wales and the multi-cultural nature of the city puts it on the European map.

Question and answer session

Q. Daniel Boucher, EA Wales
It was once said that we cannot know where we are or where we are going until we know where we have been. Whilst we are talking about how to create tolerant societies, one of the interesting things for me, representing churches, is the way that theology has been very important in shaping Wales’ internationalism.

Merryl Wyn Davies:
Religion is the core of culture. Cultural identity without a moral compass is a no-place identity. Inter-faith dialogue is very important in trying to articulate ways of understanding that which is common and analogous between difference churches. It allows us to negotiate what is our vision of a better society.

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown:
When the Ugandan Asian refugees came to Britain in 1972, many said that Wales was a much better society than England because they go to Church and they don’t drink.

Q. Dr Rita Austin.
Did you know that you are in one of 950 electoral wards with over 39% of the population being minority ethnic? Do you know that there are only 75 electoral wards in the whole of Wales where there is no black vote? Ethnic minorities live in every corner of Wales. When people talk about diversity in Wales they very often talk about Welsh and non-Welsh speakers, about the north and the south, the east and the west of the country, the urban and the rural. When ethnic minorities talk about diversity in Wales, we talk about something different. So can we have some acknowledgement of multiculturalism in Wales that goes beyond sarees, samosas and steam baths?

David Williams:
I believe that I have heard the First Minister actually say what you are calling for: that Wales is a multicultural country.

Kevin Morgan:
I agree with all of Rita’s comments. I am surprised that Rhodri has not got up in some venue and said that Wales is a multi-cultural society because I know personally that he believes in this. If he has not said this, he should.

Q. Neeta Baicher, Barnardos.
What is the panel’s view of immigrants wanting to maintain their own culture within the British culture?

Charlotte Williams:
It is vital and necessary that immigrants retain their own culture. We know who we are, and it is through recognising and preserving our own culture that we make Britain much more vital. However, we do not want sarees, samosas and steam baths as the only things that are preserving ethnic minority cultures. Political power and representation is needed.

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown:
I do not believe in the idea that you can hold onto your culture and still be British. The moment you leave your homeland, you change, the country you are going to changes, and the country that you are leaving changes. Part of the problem of this particular model is that someone powerful within families or communities decides what the culture is. This means that young people do not have a voice in deciding what their culture has become, often the women are forced to collude in a false image of what their culture should be. This is dangerous in respect to individuality. I do not want certain parts of my culture respected at all. I think they are deeply harmful and should be rejected.

Merryl Wyn Davies:
Yasmin, think about what you have just said and where you have said it. The continuity of Welsh culture is what brought this country into being. Its sense of marginality in regards to British identity is actually vital to the historical experience of the majority of Welsh people.

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown:
But that does not mean that we have to glorify Welsh culture at all.

Merryl Wyn Davies:
Identity and culture are not the same thing. They are a range of interpretations and no one interpretation is right.

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown:
Well, I hope that Wales does not develop this old sense of multiculturalism because some of that is based on this false idea of culture, which is what I am challenging. My multiculturalism has never been about ethnic minorities. I have never said multiculturalism is only about ethnic minorities. That would be ridiculous. Everybody has a culture and everybody’s culture is changing. I have always resented the idea that multiculturalism was a euphemism for being black. So I am totally inclusive in my narrative on multiculturalism and I do not think that any culture should be exempt.

Yvette Vaughan-Jones:
The point about globalisation which is deeply worrying and needs to be debated is what criteria do we use to evaluate culture? What are the tools with which we look at critically, the good, the excellent, the deeply disturbing pieces. Some elements of culture are deeply distressing and ought to be questioned. Other elements need to be put into context.

About 5 years ago, a piece of Welsh theatre was put on in the Royal Court in London. The reviews were: ‘rabbit, rabbit, rabbit – the Welsh are back.’ This was deeply offensive. It was racially stereotypical and would have been unthinkable if it had been describing ethnic minorities in Britain. Nevertheless, it was also very interesting because the piece of work was excellent by any kind of cultural assessment. However, it was not mainstream, fashionable, metropolitan London work. It was wordy, it came from a different root and was saying different things; but it was judged by a certain set of criteria. On the other hand, I saw a piece of Cuban theatre which was deeply disturbing in terms of marginalising women. So how do we judge those pieces of theatre?

Q. Naz Mallik, All Wales Ethnic Minority Association.
In terms of a cultural sense of belonging, it is important for all us to know where we come from, so we can know where we are going. Someone earlier said: ‘How can we know where we want to go?’ In the sense of belonging, it is the contribution that we make that allows us to understand where we belong.

Q. Name not given.
When does one move from being an ethnic minority, to being British or Welsh? Merryl spoke earlier about secret histories. There are some histories that are more secret than others. For example, we never hear about the involvement of Caribbean and black soldiers in World War II, yet if you look at the war memorial in Cardiff, you will see Muslim names and Caribbean names.

You also mentioned some Muslim festivals, but nobody mentioned Afro-Caribbean festivals or culture. The First Minister said that the Welsh Assembly does not make anyone a second-class citizen, but it has made me feel like a second-class citizen. I hear very little about my heritage, Afro-Caribbean heritage. I feel sometimes in Wales that there is a hierarchy, especially in the minds of some people in the Welsh Assembly, when they are looking at different groups – some rate higher than others. So I shall go back to my original question: when do we become Welsh or British citizens?

Q. Penny Evans, Student, The Open University
My experience living in Malaysia and Northern Ireland with a Catholic father a mother who was the daughter of an Orangeman, meant that I have always been an outsider. My sense of identity is as an individual.

Q. Marco Gil-Cervantes.
I have always had a problem with Britishness and Englishness. It has never been something I have wanted to be included in. A danger for devolution is that instead of me not wanting to be British, I could end up not wanting to be Welsh. There is a danger that devolution does not take on board difference. This is also a challenge for Cardiff 2008, although what I have seen so far has been positive.

Q. Name not given
I worry that with the impending war, Muslims in Britain, such as myself, will be branded as terrorists and will be less accepted in this society.

Findings of the group exercises
School pupil’s group.
Wales should pay more attention to the student’s views on cultural issues such as Cardiff 2008 because we are the future of Wales. The First Minister should listen to pupil’s views more often and come and visit our school.

Identity, social justice, accountability group
It is very important that people are able to choose what labels they would like to be identified with. Too often we put people in boxes: we say this is a black woman or an Asian man rather than allowing people to identify themselves, for example as Welsh or as British. This applies not only in terms of race, but also in terms of sexuality and gender.

In terms of social justice, we discussed the discrimination faced by some groups. We need to look at where discrimination exists and address this issue. Funding is required to provide the services to bring people up to equal levels of social justice.

Individual liberty group
A few members of the group felt that personal freedoms were less widespread than is often assumed, especially by policy-makers. Individuals are often constrained by norms and expectations such as gender and dress in western cultures. This often affects the ability of people to express themselves freely and to act in an autonomous way.

There is also an inherent conflict between collective and individual rights. In the west, human rights are based on the concept of individuality. Whereas, in many instances, today’s dialogue has been, for example, regarding the rights of the Welsh people to speak the Welsh language.

There is also a lack of resources. This means that we have to value some forms of personal autonomy more than others, because there aren’t enough resources to police every personal liberty. So there is a conflict between protecting individual rights and resources.

There also needs to be power sharing without exploitation. The idea exists that to gain power, you have to give something up, whether that is personal autonomy or cultural identity. It shouldn’t necessarily be a win-lose situation, it should be ideally a win-win situation.

Histories Group
We focused on the preservation of local history as identified by people, stories, memories, ownership of history by local people for example, buildings and memorials. We also need to make hidden histories part of the national curriculum so that everyone knows about them. This is important in connecting different communities. The old Irish community in Cardiff is an example of a hidden history. Many of these people came to Cardiff during the potato famine and they worked in the docks. However, the council demolished the area in which this community lived and there was nothing left to remind people that there used to be an Irish community there. However, money has been raised and work is soon to start on a memorial gardens to preserve the history of that community. When history is not preserved, a lot of the blame falls on the shoulders of the local councils.

Media Group
The Media has a very important role to play. It decides who are the legitimate spokespeople and what the angle on a story is. This is therefore incredibly powerful in capping the news. BBC Wales has two distinct characteristics: it is white and it is young. This is important firstly, because institutions such as the BBC often have institutional memory loss: they forget issues, even ones which occurred as recently as the early 1990s. The BBC’s news program, BBC Wales is the single most important media source in Wales. It gets the highest ratings: almost 400,000 people watch it on a daily basis. And this is a program where young journalists produce the news, a young production team manages the process and it is a news program designed by the young for an elderly and middle-aged audience. There is a big issues about the role of media in the way that devolution stories are decided. These issues need to be challenged. Whenever any of us feel that our community has been slighted we should take it seriously. A case in point is the use of the phrase ‘to Welsh’ for example. To Welsh on a deal means to cheat on a deal. We have managed to stop this phrase being used. That is a successful example of challenging the media.

Art and culture group
Everybody should have the chance to express their identities, create their own cultures and have the ability to that without impediment. People also need a space for debate and critical analysis; otherwise, change will not occur.

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown:
A report will be published next month bringing together all the Global Britons seminars that have been conducted around the country over the last couple of years. One of the questions that the report will address is whether we are able to come up with a version of Britishness that we can all feel comfortable with and which is open, changing and innovative.

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