Sasana (England)

A Message To Scotland

Saorsa 2014

Saorsa 2014

When the children’s author JK Rowling announced her financial support for the anti-sovereignty side in Scotland’s forthcoming referendum on independence she lamented the alleged online campaign of abuse against British Unionist supporters by their Scottish Nationalist rivals. While using her own troll-like language to mischaracterise some of those who believe in a free and self-governing Scotland the English-born writer called upon more tolerance in the referendum debate and an end to the cyberwars between the competing nationalisms of Scotland and a Greater England (on one side a populist expression of dissent, on the other the muscle-flexing of the establishment group-think).

If that was truly her intention then it has failed and failed miserably as the worse elements of the Unionist news media and political elites over yonder have used her dramatic intervention to launch an unprecedented smear campaign against anyone who dares challenge the suzerainty of London over the island of Britain. The grotesque and one-sided nature of the struggle and the new depths that Rowling’s largesse have allowed Unionist propagandists to descend to is quite extraordinary. Several well-known figures on the sovereigntist side, politicians and citizen-journalists, have been subject to sustained attacks in the newspapers, on radio, television and above all on social media networks. Distortions and untruths have become the norm. Muck-raking hacks from the British nationalist press have trawled through people’s lives searching for dirt to dish. Where none has been found they have simply invented it. The utter hypocrisy of those involved has been nothing short of astounding.

As a nation which long ago freed the greater part of itself from the cold hand of English rule we know all too well the tactics being pursued by the “British” ruling classes and their acolytes. They are the same ones we faced during our own revolution: the same lies, the same grotesque distortions of the truth. We heard the now familiar objections to the reclaiming of our nationhood: we were too small, too poor, too stupid to govern ourselves. Yes, the free Irish state that we established was not what we had hoped for. Yet how could it be otherwise when the British refused to accept our repeated votes for independence at the start of the 20th century but instead waged a war upon our democracy? When our island nation was disfigured by a “border” imposed by London overlords thwarted by a defiant populace? When our industrial north-east and a fifth of our population were lost to us while punitive reparations and tariffs stunted our development? Our country was deliberately crippled from the get-go.

However would anyone in the modern nation-state of Ireland chose to be under British dominion again? Of course not. That is the lesson for the Scots. For no matter how great the challenges – or the faults – they are our own. We are the master and mistress of our own house, however lowly some may claim it to be, and we have no desire to be the serfs in the house of another, however great some may claim that to be. We ourselves are the risen people.

Come join us.

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Harry Potter To The Rescue!

Alex Salmond, the liberal centre-left politician elected by the people of Scotland is re-imagined as a fictional evil wizard in contrast to an author elected by nobody, nowhere. This is not an abusive image by Britnats; apparently it is just a bit of “fun” (Íomhá: the British Mirror newspaper)

It says much for the fantasy politics of British nationalism that a decision by the English-born children’s author JK Rowling to boost the already hefty warchest of the Unionist “No” campaign with a donation of one million pounds is being heralded by the right-wing press in Britain as “the most significant” celebrity intervention in the referendum campaign so far. Rowling is famous for her “Harry Potter” series of juvenile books in which a youth destined to greatness because of his superior parentage overcomes a nefarious opponent of lesser ancestry in a familiar Fantasy trope. The writer herself offered few substantive reasons for her opposition to Scotland’s right to be a sovereign nation beyond some egregious insults directed towards pro-independence Scots by referencing evil characters from her own books:

“…a little Death Eaterish for my taste.”

Of course when two ordinary Scottish citizens, Chris and Colin Weir, donated a substantial amount of money towards the “Yes” campaign from their recent lottery win both were vilified throughout the conservative and liberal British news media in an epic smear campaign. Rowling on the other hand is being hailed as the saviour of London’s hegemony on the island of Britain. To use a formula she might well appreciate it seems that for the British press:

Pro-British millionaires = good wizards

Pro-Scottish millionaires = bad wizards

Of course the Unionist newspapers are now spinning the story like crazy with hyped-up claims that the author has already been subject to a series of online attacks by “Yes” supporters in her adopted country (“attacks” being a code word for criticism or queries about her anti-sovereignty views).

Oh well, at least it adds a bit more more colour to an already garish debate. Though of course the one debate you are unlikely to see is the one between the head of government with an actual democratic mandate in Scotland and the head of government who has no mandate at all. Now that is a little bit Lord Voldemort, isn’t it?

Bye-Bye Peace Process! Hello Orange World Order!

British politicians love to play the “Orange Card”, sacrificing democracy and peace in Ireland for political gain at home in Britain. Here’s to another decade or two of Unionist fascism!

A terrifying report from the Guardian newspaper for anyone who knows anything about the history of modern Ireland:

“David Cameron hosted a lavish reception in the Downing Street garden for Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionists last week, prompting senior party figures to say the prime minister is wooing its MPs ahead of a possible hung parliament where their support could be crucial to his survival.

In a move that may prompt claims that he is prepared to play the “Orange card” if he fails to win an overall majority in next year’s general election, the prime minister paid court to the party’s eight MPs, who could hold the balance of power in a hung parliament.

Cameron invited the DUP MPs, who make up the fourth largest party at Westminster, for drinks in the No 10 garden on Wednesday evening last week.

The subsequent reception in the garden, attended by the DUP’s MPs and Robinson, was held on the evening that Gerry Adams was arrested by police investigating the disappearance of Jean McConville in 1972.

The MPs were given the impression that Cameron was going out of his way to lay on the charm by allowing his children to play among the guests as drinks, including non-alcoholic ones for the teetotal drinkers, were served.”

So that is it. Peace in Ireland, 1998-2015, the date of the next British general election. It was fun while it lasted. Then it’s back to the good old days of Conservative Party rule in Britain and Unionist politicians and militants running amok in Ireland. Oh well, at least there will be plenty of work for the funeral industry. Not to mention religious fundamentalists, biblical creationists, homophobes and racists…

 

The Forces Of Darkness Gather

George, sorry, Lord Robertson

George Islay MacNeill Robertson, Baron Robertson of Port Ellen, KT, GCMG, FRSA, FRSE, PC, voices his, eh, unbiased opinions on his home nation

There is truly nothing more astonishing in this world than a British nationalist politician who is completely oblivious of his own nation’s history of imperial misdeeds and crimes around the globe. Or worse, actually believes that such things are worthy of veneration because they were committed by the nation of Britain and are therefore above approach (oh lucky slaves and occupied peoples who in lived in that part of the atlas coloured pink!). It’s like waking up in some bizarre parallel universe where the Third Reich won WWII and sixty years later its leaders look back with pride on those halcyon days or where Joseph Stalin had gone on to win the Nobel Prize for Peace (a not entirely inconceivable idea, admittedly, given the list of those who actually did win the honour). So we have the less than edifying spectacle of a former, nominally left-wing British government minister and NATO make-an’-shaker, nouveau aristo George Robertson, beating the war drums like a thing possessed in relation to Scotland’s upcoming referendum on independence. From the Guardian newspaper:

“Lord Robertson, the former defence secretary and Nato chief, has claimed that Scottish independence would have a “cataclysmic” effect on European and global stability by undermining the UK on the world stage.

A former secretary general of Nato, Robertson said the “loudest cheers” after a yes vote would come from the west’s enemies and other “forces of darkness”.

“What could possibly justify giving the dictators, the persecutors, the oppressors, the annexers, the aggressors and the adventurers across the planet the biggest pre-Christmas present of their lives by tearing the United Kingdom apart?” Robertson told the Brookings Institute on onday.”

The forces of darkness?! This is politics and democracy reduced to the level of Star Wars. British Unionism as an ideology has finally sunk to the level of  Tea Party-style insanity. And it’s showing.

Welsh, A Foreign Language In Britain

“Letter In A Foreign Language (Welsh)”

“Letter In A Foreign Language (Welsh)”

Substitute “Ireland” for “Wales” and “Irish” for “Welsh” and the discrimination revealed below would be pretty much the same. From a report in the Daily Post newspaper:

“After receiving a form in English from National Savings and Investments, 72-year-old Arfon Rhys sent it back and requested either a Welsh or bilingual form.

The letter he then received from NS&I – a state-owned savings bank backed by the Treasury – said: “We have received correspondence from you in your own language. As we do not translate from your language into English, we can’t reply to your letter.

“I enclose your original document so that you can arrange for it to be translated into English and resent to us. We will then be able to deal with your request.”

In a handwritten comment, the reason for returning the letter to Mr Rhys was given as “letter in a foreign language (Welsh)”.

The letter was written on March 12, just days after a landmark ruling that NS&I acted unlawfully by ending Welsh language services.

On March 6, two High Court judges in Cardiff ordered NS&I to restore its customer services in Welsh. They ruled that the agency’s decision last year to scrap its Welsh-language brochures, telephone service, correspondence and website was unlawful.”

[ASF: With thanks to Marconatrix for the link]

Rising Poll Numbers For Yes Vote In Scotland

Alba Gu Brath - Scotland Forever. Thousands attend Scottish independence rally, Edinburgh, Scotland, 2012

Alba Gu Brath – Scotland Forever. Thousands attend Scottish independence rally, Edinburgh, Scotland, 2012 (Photo: Wings Over Scotland)

Another poll, another rise in support for Scottish independence (and the SNP) with this year’s momentous referendum half-a-year away. From the Scotsman newspaper:

“SUPPORT for Scottish independence has reached its highest level for more than six months, according to a new opinion poll.

When asked how they would vote if the referendum was held today, 39.3 per cent of those surveyed said Yes, compared to 47.6 per cent who said No.

The remaining 13.1 per cent of those who were questioned were undecided according to the poll, by Survation for The Daily Record and Dundee University [ASF: here].

It is the highest support for independence since August last year, when a poll by Panelbase found 44 per cent of people backed Scotland leaving the UK.

Survation questioned 1,002 people aged 16 and over between March 6 and March 7, and also looked at how Scots could vote in the next Holyrood election.

That put the SNP ahead of Labour, with 44.6 per cent of people saying they would vote for Alex Salmond’s party in the constituency section of the ballot and 34 per cent planning on supporting Johann Lamont’s party.

Meanwhile the Tories had the backing of 13 per cent of those questioned, with 5 per cent saying they would be voting for the Liberal Democrats and 3.3 per cent planning on voting for other parties.”

Unsurprisingly most of the national (and nationalist) media in Britain are ignoring this poll. Just as they have ignored previous surveys where the official narrative promulgated by the London establishment has run up against the very different narrative in Scotland itself. With even less surprise I note the “rounding down” and “rounding up” of the percentages by those news outlets which have deigned to take note. The 39.3% Yes becomes “39%” and the 47.6% No becomes “48%”. It’s all about the optics you know.

The Peace Process Elicits Irish Pride But British Shame?

An Active Service Unit of the Irish Republican Army

An Active Service Unit of the Irish Republican Army sets up a vehicle-checkpoint, British Occupied North of Ireland, 1994 (Image: © Rory Nugent, used with permission)

So suddenly the news media around the globe have become aware of one the most widely-known secrets in Irish and British politics. As part of the Peace Process of the late 1990s and early 2000s dozens of former Volunteers of the (Provisional) Irish Republican Army sought by the British authorities were recognised as having de facto immunity under UK law. The so-called “on-the runs” (OTRs) were guaranteed non-prosecution in very carefully phrased legal language by the government of Britain, language that allowed the folks in London to keep face by not publicly acknowledging that the past actions of the insurgents were political or military in nature while in private doing exactly that. In politics as in war obfuscation is king.

Given that pretty much everyone knew that such an agreement had been reached between the various parties, and over a period of some years, why all the excitement now? Perhaps it is due to the fact that politicians, the media and much of the general public in Britain are still unable to face up to the realities of a peace process in Ireland that they actively sought and participated in? After decades of denying the political nature of the insurgency aligned against them (while covertly communicating with it the whole time) the British agreed to negotiate in open with their Irish Republican opponents in a carefully orchestrated dance of give-and-take throughout the 1990s. Yes, there are many criticisms to be made of that period and from all sides. They are well rehearsed and there are those both in Ireland and Britain who cry loudly about “sell-out” and “betrayal”, albeit from diametrically opposed viewpoints. However the relative success of the era of talks and counter-talks cannot be denied, even if some regard it as no more than a generational breather in an ongoing struggle (and one with an inevitable endpoint).

One outcome of all this is that Irish popular culture views the Peace Process very differently from British popular culture. In Ireland the 1998 Belfast Agreement and other accords are regarded as historic compromises and are largely praised as such. They remain touchstones for speeches, rallies and point-scoring in the political world. In contrast in Britain the Belfast Agreement and the negotiations around it are barely mentioned at all, as if the people of Britain are collectively unable to accept that an end to the Long War came at the price of Sinn Féin in regional government in Belfast and ex-IRA Volunteers treated as statesmen. The British tabloid press still act and publish as if 2014 was 1974. It is this dualistic perception of the Peace Process, the Irish positive, the British negative, which ironically carries within it the seeds for future misunderstandings and conflict.

Update: the Daily Mail, Britain’s hugely popular right-wing newspaper, carries some traditional Fleet Street reporting on the farcical arrest, detention and trial of John Downey, including some old school racial profiling:

“John Downey has always denied involvement. Two months after the bombing, police issued an artist’s impression – thickly bearded, with dark hair and rugged, Celtic features…”

Celtic features? Bring back the 1970s and ’80s when the British press used to tell its readers to watch out for “labourer-types” with ruddy faces, red hair and beards!

Letter Bombs In Britain. A Failure Of Vision

Letter bombs to Britain - turning a noble cause ignoble

Letter bombs to Britain – turning a noble cause ignoble

This is not 1884 nor is it 1974. So what on earth is the military or revolutionary rationale for sending letter-bombs to local recruitment offices of the British Army in towns and cities across Britain? How does that in any way shape or form represent an act of military resistance to the continued British Occupation of the northern-eastern part of our island nation? What strategic goal is achieved by such tactics? What political or media gain is accrued from the use of force that is little different from the wild – and ultimately pointless – acts of would-be anarchist revolutionaries in the 19th and 20th centuries?

The prosecution of a war using the militant methods of long dead radicals reveals minds that are frozen in time, in ideology and in vision. It lowers the public perception of the Irish Republican cause to the same level as the nihilist objectives pursued by the Red Brigades in Italy or the Red Army Faction in Germany during the turbulent 1970s. It makes a mockery of the very real and very genuine justifications for previous actions in previous decades and centuries. Actions born out of desperation, violence born out of the infliction of violence. Colonial occupation and exploitation, sectarianism and racism, famine and exile gave birth to the Fenian movements of the mid-to-late 1800s. The young men (and women) who filled their ranks were the children of serfdom, poverty and hunger. They were the ones who saw their prematurely aged parents buried in mass graves, their siblings dying with bellies swollen and limbs shrunken through malnutrition and disease. They were the off-spring of the “coffin ships”. The children of the Irish holocaust.

What excuse, what justification, can there be in the 21st century for the tactics of the 19th? The British continue to claim colonial sovereignty over part of our nation and our people but the modern British are not the imperialist ogres of yesteryear. Yes, in historical terms they have hands dyed red with the blood of our race both in times near and times past. But at some point we Irish must take responsibility for our own bloodletting. I do not agree with military resistance to the British occupation at this time. I do not believe that the end to Ireland’s British troubles can come about through force given the circumstances that currently pertain. However I can, at least, understand the rationale of those who do believe so and wish to prosecute a war to finish what was begun in 1916 (or 1169). To finish the unfinished business.

Yet even those on the armed revolutionary wing of modern Irish Republicanism must see that the sending of letter bombs to locations in Britain simply reduces their struggle to that of the most base form of terrorism and erodes whatever support they hope to sustain or gain. By all means resist the medieval anachronism of British rule in modern Ireland. Resist it politically, linguistically, culturally and socially. Work day and night to extinguish the Northern Pale, to dispatch into the pages of history the last administrative remnants of the British colony on our island nation. But this ongoing campaign, in this form? That is revolutionary madness.

Update: G Ó Cáthasaigh presents another view on the efficacy of armed struggle in early 21st century Ireland over at the Pensive Quill [with thanks to Mary for the link].

Death Squad Killers In The Land Down Under

Maria McGurk murdered by British state-controlled terrorists at McGurk's Bar

12 year old Maria McGurk, murdered by British state-controlled terrorists in 1971 at McGurk’s Bar, Belfast, Ireland. Another victim of Britain’s dirty war in Ireland

An update on the revelations late last year by a BBC news documentary examining the murderous activities of the British Army’s covert Military Reaction Force (MRF) during the early days of the conflict in the north-east of Ireland. From 1971 to 1973 the unit carried out a series of terrorist attacks against the civilian population and suspected Irish Republican activists, largely confined to Belfast, as well as acting in concert with various British terror factions (notably in the atrocity known as the McGurk’s Bar Bombing which took the lives of fifteen men, women and children). Now reports are coming in from Australia of attempts to bring former gunmen of the MRF living under assumed identities in the country to justice. From an article in WAToday:

“A member of a violent and secretive unit which allegedly hunted IRA members in Northern Ireland in the 1970s is thought to have fled to Queensland.

Former sergeant Clive Williams was a member of the Military Reaction Force, a group of undercover soldiers, who were active mainly in nationalist west Belfast in 1972.

He is understood to now be living in Queensland under another name, and the Australian government is being urged to investigate.

The MRF carried out a series of drive-by shootings in which two civilians were killed and 12 others were injured – even though there was no evidence that any were armed, or IRA members.

They included Patrick McVeigh, a 44-year-old father of six and 18-year-old Daniel Rooney, who was shot on St James Road.

Some members of the unit told a recently broadcast BBC Panorama program they ‘‘were not there to act like an army unit, we were there to act like a terror group”.

The MRF say they sometimes acted as bait, goading the IRA to come out and fight.

In the Panorama program, Mr Williams was confronted by reporter John Ware in Brisbane, but refused to answer questions.

In 1973, Mr Williams was put on trial at Belfast Crown Court accused of attempted murder, for shooting four unarmed men on the Glen Road in west Belfast.

Mr Williams claimed they had fired at him first. No guns were found at the scene and forensic tests on all four proved negative. None were members of the IRA.

Mr Williams told detectives he had fired from a standard army issue gun, but when confronted with evidence of bullet casings he said he had used a Thompson sub machine gun – a weapon frequently used by the IRA at the time.

He was subsequently promoted, left the army with the rank of captain and a military medal for bravery.”

From the late 1960s onwards the former subject territories of the British Empire have served as a convenient bolthole for British soldiers, paramilitary police, spies, informers and civil servants who participated in some manner in Britain’s dirty war in Ireland. At the expense of British taxpayers new lives and new identities, frequently in some splendour, were provided for those who needed to be placed beyond the reach of the law or journalistic endeavour. While members of the British Unionist minority in Ireland invariably choose Canada, South Africa or New Zealand, those from Britain favoured Australia. One wonders how many other former death squad killers, official or unofficial, are living the good life in lands faraway from those they brought such pain and misery to?

England, Wales And Southern Scotland

The partition of Scotland the new Greater England

The partition of Scotland – and the new Greater England

Not so long ago I set a rather large cat loose amongst some red, white and blue pigeons when I drew attention to the whispering campaign being engaged in by some Unionist politicos favouring a “partition of Scotland” should this year’s referendum on Scottish independence go against the authorities in Britain. So far a number of former Tory grandees and political leaders from the British Unionist minority in the north-east of Ireland have served as stalking horses for the suggestion that much of the Borders and Lowlands region of Scotland should be retained under London rule, up to and including parts of the city of Glasgow. Admittedly the idea is somewhat insane – but then the partition of the island nation of Ireland was equally insane yet Unionist leaders and their British allies went ahead with that (and we all know how well that worked out…).

So, given all the kerfuffle, it is somewhat strange to see Gordon Aikman, the Director of Research for the British Unionist “Better Together” grouping, heavily promoting a poll claiming that a majority of people in the “South of Scotland” (the Borders region) are opposed to Scottish independence. The very zone some British nationalists believe should be separated from an independent Scotland.

 

Scotland: Latest Poll Records Rising Yes Vote

Sign of Albain or Scotland

Alba – Albain – Scotland

For the last two years members of the SNP government in Edinburgh have been claiming that in the lead-up to the referendum on Scotland’s independence there would be a significant shift in polling as voters finally decided on their constitutional future – Scottish rule or British rule. Well it seems that they may have been right. From the Scotsman newspaper:

“SUPPORT for Scottish independence has risen for the first time in nearly a year, according to a new poll published last night, offering evidence that the contest is getting closer in the run-up to next autumn’s historic vote.

The Ipsos-Mori poll registered a rise in support of three percentage points, with a total of 34 per cent of those who are certain to vote choosing the Yes side.

Backing for Scotland remaining in the UK was still the most popular option, but support had dropped two points since September to 57 per cent. A further 10 per cent of those certain to vote had yet to decide.

…for the first time, there are more people in the most deprived parts of Scotland who support independence than there are who oppose it. Some 45 per cent back leaving the UK, with 42 per cent supporting the status quo.

That is in marked contrast to the country’s better-off areas, where the No side is ahead by 68 per cent to 26 per cent.”

SCOT goes POP has more analysis.

British Unionism In Ireland – Anyone But The Irish!

The partition of Scotland the new Greater England

The partition of Scotland – and the new Greater England

Lord Megabucks Kilclooney, also known as former Ulster Unionist Party bigwig John Taylor, has jumped once again feet first into the referendum on Scottish independence. Not content with suggesting last year that an independent Scotland should be “partitioned” with the Borders region up to and including parts of the city of Glasgow retained under London rule he has now revised the ideology of “Unionism” in Ireland. Apparently it is no longer concerned with maintaining British colonial rule over the north-east of this island-nation under the aegis of the so-called “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland”.

Oh no, the “Great Britain” part has nothing to do with it. From a letter to the Scotsman newspaper:

“AS AN Ulster Scot I am obviously anxious about the possible outcome of the independence ­referendum next year.

Should there be a Yes majority for Scottish independence then we in Northern Ireland, being closer in both distance and culture with Scotland, would have to decide whether to remain with England or remain with Scotland.

Lord Kilclooney”

Well there you go. “Ulster” Unionism. Or as we may more honestly term it “Anything But The White-Niggers” Unionism. I wouldn’t have one around the place y’know

More here.

Scottish Independence, 35% Yes, 43% No

Albain (Scotland)

Albain (Scotland)

The latest Panelbase poll from Wings Over Scotland, the headline figures say it all:

Should Scotland Be An Independent Country? 

35% Yes

43% No

20% Undecided

Closer and closer…

British Soldiers, Nazi Salutes – The Story We Had First

British soldiers in Afghanistan give the Neo-Nazi-Red-Hand salute of the British terror factions in Ireland

British soldiers in Afghanistan give the Neo-Nazi-Red-Hand salute of the British terror factions in Ireland

The newspapers in Britain are currently debating the significance of images from the conflict in Afghanistan showing serving British soldiers posing in front of the British national flag and the now discarded “Northern Ireland” banner while making stiff-armed Nazi salutes. The Mail on Sunday broke the story which has been taken up by the Guardian and the Express as well as Newsnet Scotland. Of course here at An Sionnach Fionn we posted these photos long ago, including in this article, and we also linked to the source of the images, a right-wing Unionist-supporting fan-club in England called Invicta Loyal, when challenged on the veracity of the photographs.

For more on the tangled relationship between militant British Unionism in Ireland and the Neo-Nazi movement in Britain see my post here.

British soldiers in Afghanistan display Orange Order emblems and British Unionist flags

British soldiers in Afghanistan display their racist and sectarian Orange Order emblems and British Unionist flags

Education In Britain – Cultural Conditioning?

The union of Scotland, England, Wales - another historical relic.

The union of Scotland, England, Wales – another historical relic.

In the 2011 census on the island of Britain large numbers of people living in Scotland, Wales and England rejected the nationality of “British”, a majority in all three countries preferring to describe themselves instead as solely Scottish (62.4%), Welsh (57.5%) or English (60.4%). Which makes the BBC News article claim that Britishness is “…an identity quite at home in the 21st Century” more than a little bizarre. Indeed the whole post is rather odd with some amazing fact-spinning not to mention this nugget of suggestive bias:

“In Wales, though, children and young people are less likely to describe themselves as British than their parents – about 16% compared to 18%. One possible explanation for this may be the introduction of compulsory Welsh language teaching in schools.”

Desperate man clutching at straws? The English language is also “compulsory” in schools in Wales and for 90% of the school day. Yet Welsh schools are not turning out legions of flag-waving EDL supporters. And 98% of the Scottish education system is through the medium of English with hardly any input from the Scottish language outside of a few Scottish Gaelic schools (for now). Yet the vast majority of young Scots also reject any sense of being British.

If the argument is that the provision of Welsh language education for Welsh students is decreasing the number of those identifying themselves as “British” in Wales, is that not merely underlining the purpose of English language education in Britain as a force of cultural colonialism?