Where Names Do Matter

‘What's in a name? That which we call a rose. By any other name would smell as sweet.’ So claims Juliet in Shakespeare’s play. But all week commentators, Tory politicians and supposed ‘journalists’ reports Geoff Ryan have been queuing up to disprove Juliet’s assertion.


And the cause of all these complaints about names? The decision by the Brecon Beacons National Park management that from now on they will only use the original  Welsh/Cymraeg name Parc Cenedlaethol Bannau Brycheiniog and abandon the logo of a burning brazier was taken for 2 reasons.

  1. The current name referencing wood-burning, carbon-emitting no longer fitted with the park’s ecological ethos.
  2. Brecon Beacons doesn’t really mean anything in Welsh/Cymraeg and is already known to many Welsh people as Bannau Brycheiniog. By only using Bannau Brycheiniog the aim is to celebrate Welsh people, Welsh culture, Welsh food and Welsh farming.

This decision to use the Welsh/Cymraeg language in Cymru/Wales has provoked outrage. Susanna Reid, Good Morning Britain host, kicked off the hostile reaction claiming she thought it was a joke.

She was soon followed by Fay Jones, Tory MP for Brecon and Radnorshire, who claimed the decision appeared to have been taken without any consultation with people who live and work in the national park – totally ignoring the year long consultation with staff, residents, volunteers and visitors carried out by the park managers.

Nor did she ever complain about the decision to rename the Second Severn Crossing the Prince of Wales Bridge, a decision taken without any consultation with the people of Cymru.

She also hasn’t raised any objections to the refusal by the UK government to even consider accepting any petition to change the name of this bridge to o ne less controversial in Cymru – the Gareth Bale  bridge has been suggested.

The Daily Telegraph, which has a long history of hostility to the Welsh language and the use of Cymraeg names, piled in, accompanied by  several Tory MPs and leader of the Welsh Tories Andrew RT Davies. Essentially the same people who were hostile to the decision to revert to the original Yr Wydffa and Eryri rather than the English Snowdon and Snowdonia.

No doubt they would all oppose the renaming of Ayres Rock as Uluru or Mount McKinley as Denali even though, like Cymraeg in Cymru, they are names based on languages that are not spoken by the majority of people in Australia or Alaska.

Parc Cenedlaethol Bannau Brycheiniog
Parc Cenedlaethol Bannau Brycheiniog https://unsplash.com/photos/eO_cXUR8h1w

While right wing commentators and politicians were getting worked up about Bannau Brycheiniog the fascists of Voice of Wales , Students Against Tyranny and Banners on Bridges, Cardiff (who regularly publish Tommy Robinson’s filth) were attempting to get recruits by leafletting in Abertawe/Swansea. They focussed on Welsh government plans to restrict the building of roads and denouncing the ’15 minute city’ which they claimed was a deliberate plan to prevent people leaving their neighbourhoods.

Other bizarre ideas were claims that the government (Welsh or UK isn’t clear) is planning to make ‘everything digital’ thereby preventing people ‘saving for a rainy day’ or leaving cash for ‘the tooth fairy’. Plus anti-vax and Covid denial nonsense.

Voice of Wales and their collaborators were not the only fascists raising their heads in Cymru. After their miserable showing in Llanilltud Fawr/Llantwit Major a few weeks ago Patriotic Alternative announced they would be holding another protest against plans to house refugees on April 29.

Patriotic Alternative* are not the only ones attacking refugees. In 2022 the Welsh Labour Government started a trial of Universal Basic Income for 18 year old who have recently been in care. They are paid £1600 (£1280 after tax) a month for 2 years. The money is intended to help them transition to adult life.

A few of those receiving UBI payments (48 out of 294) did not give their nationality as Welsh, British or English. But not all the 48 (who cover 29 nationalities) are necessarily refugees. Some may well have already been granted asylum or are legally in Cymru through other routes. I’m any case the Welsh Government has declared Cymru a ‘Nation of Sanctuary’ so it is totally consistent to include 18 year old refugees in the UBI trial.

But none of this has stopped Rishi Sunak, Welsh Secretary David TC Davies, Andrew RT Davies and, of course, Nigel Farage denouncing the payments. Farage claimed there would be much bigger boats coming straight into Cardiff Bay while Andrew RT Davies described the plan as ‘one of the most extreme’ he had ever seen’.

In this atmosphere of hostility to the Welsh language, to refugees and to environmental measures it is essential that Patriotic Alternative aren’t able to mobilize in Llanilltud Fawr/Llantwit Major on 29 April and  making sure the YesCymru/All Under One Banner March in Abertawe/Swansea on May 20 is a big success.

* in breaking news last night (20/04) Patriotic Alternative have parted ways. (ed)

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Geoff Ryan is a member of Undod, YesCymru, Labour For An Independent Wales, and Carmarthen East & Dynefwr Labour Party.

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