Friday, 23 March 2007
Where in the world does Wales stand now?
I am at Sam Ash’s music emporium on 48th Street in Manhattan, hanging with Isaac Hayes, when the news comes in. (I’m not shitting you, good people - Zarina can confirm it since she was with me.)
A dark uptown voice beside me says, “You English, guy?”
“Well, no, not exactly, man. I’m from Wales, a small country with mountains and sheep and slate and steel works and coal mines, next door to England. You know…?”
My poor explanation produces a perplexed expression in my interrogator, which is understandable considering it’s unusual to meet an American who knows where the British Isles are to be found.
“Oh. I thought that sounded like a British accent.”
“Well, yeah, it is…” (I was brought up in England, which means I don’t have a Welsh accent, just to add to the confusion of trying to identity myself to those from foreign climes.)
“You wanna know what’s happenin’ in the British elections?”
It is 1997 and Isaac’s friend is keen to tell me that Labour has ended what has seemed an eternity of Conservative misrule with a crushing landslide victory. And he’s right as it happens, I do want to know.
So we stop talking about things musical and repair to a bar down the street where, to my astonishment, the election results are being shown on television. The scale of Tony Blair’s popular victory is such that it has made the main evening news and this is remarkable in that Americans normally pay scant attention to events outside their home state, let alone the federal borders.
My companions join me in a tequila-charged toast to celebrate a new era of social justice and the hope that co-operation between our two great countries - I don’t have the strength to explain again - will establish a more fraternal world order.
These events seem a very long time ago. Ten years have passed and the New Labour promise is mired in the lies that enabled Tony Blair to cause the deaths of tens of thousands of people in Iraq, that concealed the corruption behind British arms dealing and the selling of titles to the rich, immoral bastards who exploit ordinary, decent people.
Now, having stuffed us with a massive bill from his American friends for renewing nuclear weapons we don’t need, it’s time for the old lion to slope off with his reward from Rupert Murdock. The other New Labour big cats, such as our own king of the veld, Peter Hain, are going to change their spots again to save their skins.
Just hang on to the fact that these are the same people who have spoken vociferously in support of the war in Iraq, the same party that may have benefited from the cash for honours scandal. They are going to impose Gordon Brown on us, a prime minister for whom we haven’t voted, a chancellor who just took money out of the purses of poor Welsh people to pay yet another bribe to English middle class voters.
Personally I’d rather struggle with explaining to foreigners where in the world a tiny independent Wales is than live under the leadership of such people.
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