I was recently tasked with an assignment for my university course. I'm supposed to ask what the people of Wales think of multiculturalism.
How do the people of this forum think that Wales has changed due to an influx of migrants?
Do you believe that it's a good thing, or a bad thing?
And do you think that immigrants have a right to call themselves Welsh?
Any and all feedback would be appreciated. Thank you.
Wales has certainly changed due to English immigration, there are not enough of any other sort to have much impact outside the three main cities.
Anybody who wants to call themselves Welsh can as far as I'm concerned, there's only three million of us, the more the merrier.
I actually once worked at a place where the English and Scottish outnumbered the Welsh 3-to-1.
Although Lyndon is correct, I do think there's been a fair amount of immigration in areas north of the M4 as well.
If my son's school is anything to go by the southern valleys at least are becoming far more multicultural than they have ever been. It's lovely to see and his outlook on it is brilliant. To him they are just friends in his class and in many cases they are a few generations on from their families that settled here, which you can generally tell from their accents....so they are as Welsh as my son to my mind.
He's now in secondary school but in his last Primary school class he had a kid from Germany, one from Italy, a third generation Indian girl, a fourth generation kid from Polish decent and two or three English kids. That's in a class of under 30...and they are just the ones I know of. Pretty impressive for the Valleys.
Depends on how you define multiculturalism. Do you simply mean a diverse demographic or do you mean a wide variety of cultures following their own paths within the same community? I think the former is more healthy for a cohesive society than the latter.
I can't speak for anywhere else but I know a little bit about Cardiff. It seems to me that most immigrant groups effectively become 'Welsh' within a very short space of time. I think this might be because no one immigrant group in Cardiff is big enough to be 'self contained' or because Cardiff has such a long history of immigration that being from a different background is no big deal. In that sense I suppose Cardiff is different to places such as Dewsbury, Burnley, Blackburn, Bradford etc where certain immigrant groups are largest in number and there is a certain amount of tension.
I like the fact that people from around the world take on my identity or at least a version of it. In some ways it reinforces your sense of worth. I think sometimes the Welsh are seen as a bit second rate within the wider UK which doesn't do much to our collective confidence but when you have people from around the world coming here with no preconceptions and becoming Welsh out of pure choice it is rather gratifying.
My view is that if you want to be Welsh then you are Welsh and where you were born is of very little consequence.
The biggest immigrant group is, as Lyndon says, the English. I think there has been a collective failure in Wales to acknowledge this, embrace it and work with it. At the moment it feels like the elephant in the room especially in relation to rural Wales. I think an influx of English people (or Irish or Scottish) into the valleys would actually do wonders for the place.
If foreigners are coming to Wales then that means people know we exist atleast.
It’s a bit of a big topic to put all my views on, but in summary:
Firstly, I’m an immigrant..I’m English born and raised, but I’ve only had very positive experience of that. Clearly I wear or look no different to Welsh people, but I’ve never once been called an ‘English so and so’. That said, I have embraced Wales and it’s culture.
I am a liberal, so I don’t view any group of individuals as better than any other. I am not though a Guardianista type liberal that views a room full of Bengali or Somali people as better or more interesting than a room full of white British people. Tolerance goes both ways, and so where there are parts of Wales with a more homogenous demographic..well, that’s no bad thing. It’s no good thing either, but it’s no bad thing..it’s all neutral.
More generally I welcome immigration to Wales and personally I feel far more ‘pain’ over emigration. Like most people, I have friends in Australia, Canada and the like and I’d dearly like them to come home! I view an immigrant here as a compliment to our lifestyle, so I welcome them with open arms.
That said…I strongly think that immigrants should contribute to society, both economically and culturally and I think it’s extremely important that they learn English (or Welsh!) and personally I think they should engage with the surrounding community rather than become isolationist, and some government policies have supported that. As such, I can’t say I really believe strongly in state-funded translation beyond the minimum required etc. It’s not fair on immigrants, or the wider community, and I believe that strongly whether it’s Brits living in Spain or whatever nationality in Cardiff..it’s imperitive that you speak the local language.
I like a diverse Wales, but I don’t want a Wales full of atomised, isolated communities based on race or nationality. Immigrants should be strongly encouraged to mix and develop collectively as one diverse community, rather than a nation of many diverse communities. I think we’ve got a few things wrong in the last decade or two..too much emphasis on individual rather than community welfare, too much injustice (perceived or otherwise) and not enough respect for all people regardless of nationality or race. It still angers me to hear supposed liberals (the aforementioned Guardianista type) will wax lyrical about chavs or white trash, but will stand with placards to defend anyone saying anything nasty about Rio Ferdinand.
So yeah, immigration is a good thing, but it needs managing, it needs attention and it comes with issues and it’s certainly not racist to address and discuss those issues.
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Replying to the original question!
As others here have made clear we have two forms of migration into Wales, migration from outside the UK and migration from other parts of the UK.
In terms of the current position I have no problems with the current levels of migration from outside the UK. People are people and there will always be the odd problem but it seems to me the level is proportionate and probabably enriches us both economicaly and culturaly.
I do worry about the level of migration from other parts of the UK - not to Cardiff or South East Wales but to the traditionaly Welsh-speaking parts of the country. We are in danger of losing a unique and precious culture when in parts of Carmarthenshire, for instance, upwards of 50% of the population was born outside Wales.
That's not a criticism of the migrants - it's a reflection of the inability of succesive UK and Welsh Governments to create a sustainable economy in those districts leaving young people with little choice but to leave.
As far as the question "do you think that immigrants have a right to call themselves Welsh?" goes - I take the view that if you say you're Welsh then you are Welsh.
Generally it seems to me that members of ethnic minorities in Wales tend to use terms like "Welsh Asian" and "Black Welsh" while EMs in England tend to use "British Asian" and "Black British". I wonder if "English" as a word is more ethnicaly exclusive than "Welsh"?
As someone who is technically an immigrant, I'd like to say that in my experience, the Welsh are an incredibly welcoming, accepting people. However, I do believe that many immigrants from outside of the UK don't seem to have a desire to mix socially with everybody else, so there does seem to be a them-and-us mentality.
I grew up in a VERY homogenous society, and think that rejecting other cultures and ways of life is the fastest way for a community to die.
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