Florence Sutcliffe-Braithwaite, 7 April 2022
Charlotte Williams imagines a Welsh identity that is not based on ‘land, language, lineage’ but is progressive, open and diverse. This is Richard King’s project too, and his book is an attempt to construct a genealogy for a progressive Welsh nationalism. Although he includes blood-and-soil nationalists like Barnard Jenkins, and opponents of nationalism like Neil Kinnock, most of the voices in his book belong to people like Charlotte Williams or Ron Davies: people who are critical of exclusionary forms of nationalism but who believe in the possibility of an inclusive civic nationalism, and in the idea that self-government is better for Wales than Westminster government. And who’s to say that one version of Welsh nationalism is more ‘true’ than any other? The claim that ‘Wales is a nation’ isn’t a descriptive statement: it is – or aspires to be – an illocutionary act. Nations are all imagined communities, in Benedict Anderson’s phrase, and they can be imagined in different ways. The question is how many people can be persuaded to imagine the community in the same way.