Wednesday, 28 February 2007

Newsnight Tonight

It being St David’s Day tomorrow, I’ve agreed to be interviewed by the BBC about the ‘Hendrix’ recording of Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau. The interview will be broadcast during Newsnight on BBC2, tonight at 10.30pm.

Tomorrow being a day of daffodils and leeks and women (but not men) in ‘traditional national dress’ and Charles Windsor’s Three Feathers and the rest of the supposed paraphernalia of Welshness, I thought it might be an appropriate moment to do something they’ve been badgering me about since the story first broke.

I suppose the BBC might accuse me of cultural vandalism, if not cultural terrorism, but I’m going to try to make a point about the myths of Welshness we’ve been saddled with, and how these myths were created.

I don’t want you to think I’m a killjoy; I think it’s really important to celebrate pride in our origins. But what makes us Welsh is our true heritage not the iconography, both political and religious, that’s been used to control us down the centuries. What’s important to me is belonging to a community of human beings who share my ancestry, my sense of ‘home’ and my struggles with life.

Also appearing on Newsnight will be my great friend and creative collaborator, the brilliant guitarist John Ellis. John founded Bazooka Joe and The Vibrators and was a member of The Stranglers. More recently he played with Peter Gabriel. John is English through and through. We’ve known each other since we were at Hornsey College of Art together in the early 1970’s when we used to perform at the Stapleton Hall Tavern in Stroud Green.

Armed with this knowledge, the gist of the Newsnight interview should come as no surprise to you.

Saturday, 3 February 2007

Are you watching Tony Blair?

Now that the government in Westminster has manoeuvred us into a state of perpetual war with Islam both at home and abroad, it can easily justify taking away what’s left of our personal freedoms, a circumstance George Orwell imagined in 1984, a novel he wrote in 1949.

With the introduction of identity cards, which will carry our biometric data, the intelligence agencies will, we’re told, be able to tell the white hats from the black hats. I personally think there is still plenty of room for confusion, especially when you consider that nowadays we’re being taught to think of the guys in the white hats as the baddies.

Incredibly, we live in a state where a Labour Prime Minister has, for our own good apparently, outsourced the management of our security to the Central Intelligence Agency. Perhaps the Cousins offered to do the job for free on the condition that they get use of the information they collect.

The CIA already has access to British bank accounts. It receives copies of international Swift bank transfers. It monitors our phone calls. It can track us anywhere in the world from our cell phone signals, from airline passenger manifests, or from where we use our credit cards.

This is an organisation that operates outside of international law, snatching people it considers a threat to American interests off the streets and transporting them, on occasion via British airports, to be interrogated in places like Afghanistan where torture is still condoned. Ultimately, innocent people can be detained indefinitely in places like Guantanamo Bay without ever coming to trial, simply on the suspicions of the CIA.

You think I’m raving? Wake up and smell the coffee! Consider the case currently being brought against the CIA by the German government because one of its citizens was treated in just such a manner in a case of mistaken identity.

In writing this, and in advocating Welsh independence, do you think I represent a threat to American interests? Should I be concerned, then, that a disproportionately high percentage of visitors to my firm’s website originate from the Commonwealth of Virginia, a state in which Langley, the home of the CIA, is located? This is in addition to the disproportionately high number of visitors I get that are actually identified as being from the US government. At least the visitors I get from the British security services, including a lot from the Special Branch, appear to be easily identifiable from their IP addresses.

I’m not losing any sleep over it, mind you, although perhaps I should. After all, knowing that the average American knows little of the geography of anywhere past the state line, it would be foolish to have confidence in the CIA being able to tell the difference between an extreme Islamic fundamentalist and a Welsh separatist fundamental atheist.

Who knows, perhaps at this very moment Tony Blair is on the phone to George Bush, sanctioning a cruise missile strike on my web server.

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