Colonial viceroy sunk

Unelected first generation Englishman Rishi Sunak has spoken: instead of calling the Welsh national park by its new official name Bannau Brycheiniog, the UK Prime Minister intends to “keep calling it the Brecon Beacons”. Yes, its yet another example of his crude dog-whistle politics – coded racism along the lines of “stop the boats” and “grooming gangs”, aimed at his target audience of uneducated, xenophobic, belligerent bigots who will always appreciate some good old-fashioned Cymruphobic Taffy-bashing. It comes to something when the only demographic a man of Punjabi descent can really rely on are people who would routinely abuse him as ‘Paki’ if he was anything other than a far-right Tory doing their dirty work.

Sunak is a terrible little man, a toxic combination of naked insincerity, squirming duplicity, staggering stupidity, bone-marrow arrogance and pitiful dancing to the crypto-fascist tune of the Tory press. At age 42, his entire life has been dedicated to just one cause: the enrichment of Rishi Sunak. He married the daughter of an Indian tech billionaire and pursued a career dedicated to the profit motive in investment banks and hedge-funds until in 2015 he became the MP for Richmond, one of the safest Tory seats in the entire UK. Embarrassingly more-English-than-the-English, he is very much the epitome of the toadying, cowardly collaborator who, for the sake of perceived personal advancement, models himself on his colonial overlords – in his case the thieving land-grabbers who brutalised his Punjabi antecedents. And, as was the norm in the British Raj era, the treacherous are amply rewarded.

The wealthiest UK PM in history, he postures ludicrously as a parody of an aristocratic country gentleman in his £2million, Grade-II listed mansion in Yorkshire where his clueless vulgarities include a £500,000 ‘leisure complex’ he had constructed in the grounds with a heated swimming-pool that uses up so much energy the local grid had to be upgraded. In addition to this stately pile, he also has a mews house and a flat in central London and a penthouse in Santa Monica, California and that’s not including his wife’s property portfolio or his Prime Ministerial homes. He flits everywhere by private jet, and to hell with the environment and the climate, and like all the super-rich he assumes that rules and regulations do not apply to him. Three times in the last two years, for instance, he has openly broken the law: attending an illegal party in the pandemic; not wearing a seat-belt while driving a car; and letting his dog off the lead in Hyde Park yards from a sign forbidding it. His financial affairs are rotten to the core as he exploits tax loopholes, delays tax returns, resists being open about his obscene wealth and fails to reveal conflicts of interest such as omitting to mention his wife’s stake in a childcare firm when he introduced huge new hand-outs to private childcare operators. His errors of judgement come thick and fast: since he became PM just six months ago three cabinet members appointed by him have had to resign in disgrace (Zahawi, Williamson and Raab), and he reappointed Suella Braverman as Home Secretary days after her dismissal for serious breaches of the ministerial code – and, despite her brazen disregard of human rights and international law, he lets her remain in the job as a useful stooge spreading hate-speech, division, manipulative lies and Trumpite ignorance, a grotesque, vindictive harridan given the leeway to be an out-and-out racist by the grinning Uncle Tom. The fact she’s a black woman only confirms how identity politics are a dead end: what’s going on in the brain rather than irrelevancies like skin pigmentation or gender is what matters. What matters is ideology not ‘identity’.

This is the man who promised “integrity, professionalism and accountability” when he replaced the ousted Liz Truss (who the unreconstructed rednecks that make up the Tory membership had voted for in preference to him just six weeks previously). Apart from being a tacit admission that his former hero Boris Johnson was deficient in all three of those qualities, the promise of course turned out to be hubristic bullshit that Sunak breaks over and over again. Instead he has delivered Johnson-style dishonesty, incompetence and buck-passing. So it was last week, when he breezed into Newport to put in a brief appearance at Celtic Manor for the ‘Welsh’ Conservative conference. The non-event featured the usual foaming-at-the-mouth from ‘Welsh’ Tory leader Andrew RT Davies and ‘Welsh’ Secretary David TC Davies, which can be boiled down to: How dare Wales vote Labour! How dare Senedd policies slightly differ from those of the wonderful, wise, caring, principled geniuses at Westminster! How dare Wales still exist when we thought it was crushed 500 years ago! Nobody listens to what this pair of Uncle Twms regurgitate whenever they extract their tongues from deep within the rank arseholes of their English masters, and nor does anyone with a shard of decency listen to the hang’em-flog’em hatchet-man barbarism of guest speaker Tory deputy chair Lee Anderson. He was appointed by Sunak, with his usual unerring ability to do the wrong thing, as a low-brow bit of rough who might persuade the illiterate masses to defend the way of life of millionaires. Mind you, Anderson did supply the only bit of good news at the conference when he declared that Wales was so ‘socialist’ he would never set foot here again. Is that a promise, ducky?

Sunak’s contribution came straight from the pages of the Daily Mail: apparently the people of Wales are “guinea pigs in Labour’s socialist experiment”. Yes, these days the modest and meek attempts of Mark Drakeford’s government to mitigate the terrible impact of 14 years of extremist London rule are portrayed as galloping Marxism. Policies Tories hate, like free prescriptions, tackling pollution and the loss of biodiversity, reducing car usage, limiting second-homes and holiday lets, regulating private landlordism, boosting public transport and defending the Welsh language are always characterised as ‘socialist’, when such measures are merely the sort of well-intentioned attempts to improve life for the majority of people that were commonplace across the political spectrum as recently as 40 years ago. But that’s how far to the right the Conservative Party has veered. The “experiment” taking place right now in the UK (which controls 95% of Welsh affairs) is actually the Tories’ anarcho-capitalist free-market hell that is destroying society, democracy, enlightenment and the planet itself in order to line the pockets of a tiny elite.

As for Sunak’s remark that he will “keep calling it the Brecon Beacons”, are we supposed to swallow the notion that he has ever uttered the words “Brecon Beacons” previously? Given that he has only set foot in Wales four times in his life, that he has never been to Powys, that he has never expressed any interest in Wales except to say “no more devolution!” and that he knows absolutely nothing of Wales’ history and culture, the likelihood that the words have ever passed his lips is about as probable as me saying “Yorkshire Dales”. Now, presumably, we can expect him to mention “Brecon Beacons” at every opportunity just to reiterate his objection to, to, to…well, to what precisely? To Welsh places having Welsh names? To the use of the Welsh language in Wales? To an assertion of the area’s original name rather than one imposed by colonisers? Does he still use Bombay, Calcutta and Madras rather than Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai? Does he also oppose the park authority’s interconnected plan to use the rebrand as a launching pad for the radical change desperately required to restore the trashed environment of Bannau Brycheiniog? Does he object to dealing with with the litter, the fly-tipping, the wildfires, the loss of species and plants, the agricultural run-off pollution, the overcrowding, the clogged roads, the carbon emissions, the poisoned rivers, the overgrazing and the destroyed rainforests, peatlands and wildlife habitats? These are all rhetorical questions. Sunak doesn’t answer questions, as he illustrated last week when refusing to explain why Wales’ budget is being cruelly cut by £5 billion after the criminal reclassification of High Speed 2 (HS2) railway scheme as an ‘England and Wales’ project even though it will run from London to Manchester via Birmingham and not one inch of track will be laid in Wales. The English have been robbing and ransacking Wales for so long it seems they just can’t kick the habit.

To add a derisory postscript to his completely unwarranted interference in Welsh affairs, Sunak threw in the obligatory, meaningless weasel-words that he was “a big supporter of the Welsh language and Welsh culture”. He lacks the awareness to understand how precisely this whopper echoes the gestures of cultural patronage that are part and parcel of imperialism. Wake up Sunak!

Attack is the best form of defence. So I want to turn this subject around and suggest that it’s about time we got rid of all the hideous English place-name bastardisations that taint and belittle Cymru. There is no reason for there to be a cod English language version of every Welsh place. For starters, here is a quickly assembled tranche of particularly nonsensical English names (along with their correct Welsh versions) – a miniscule snapshot of the many contemptuous abominations that should be erased from the map:

Aberavon → Aberafan
Aberdovey → Aberdyfi
Aberthaw → Aberddawan
Abertillery → Abertyleri
Ambleston → Treamlod
Amroth → Amrath
Barmouth → Abermaw
Beaumaris → Biwmares
Berriew → Aberriw
Blaenavon → Blaenafon
Blaina → Blaenau
Broughton → Brychdyn
Buckley → Bwcle
Caerleon → Caerllion
Caerphilly → Caerffili
Cardiff → Caerdydd
Carew → Caeriw
Carmarthen → Caerfyrddin
Carway → Carwe
Clyne → Y Clun
Colwyn Bay → Bae Colwyn
Cray → Crai
Criccieth → Cricieth
Crickhowell → Crucywel
Crumlin → Crymlyn
Dee → Dyfrdwy
Denbigh → Dinbych
Dynevor → Dinefwr
Ebbw Vale → Glynebwy
Ely → Trelái
Ewenny → Ewenni
Flint → Y Fflint
Fontygary → Ffont-y-gari
Glasbury → Y Clas-ar-Wy
Goodwick → Gwdig
Gower → Gŵyr
Halkyn → Helygain
Hope → Yr Hôb
Ilston → Llanilltud Gŵyr
Jordanston → Trefwrdan
Kenfig → Cynffig
Kerry → Ceri
Kidwelly → Cydweli
Kilgetty → Cilgeti
Kinmel Bay → Bae Cinmel
Knucklas → Cnwclas
Lampeter → Llanbedr
Lamphey → Llandyfái
Landore → Glandŵr
Laugharne → Lacharn
Leckwith → Lecwydd
Lisvane → Llys-faen
Llandaff → Llandaf
Llandeloy → Llan-lwy
Llandough → Llandochau
Llandovery → Llanymddyfri
Llangennith → Llangenydd
Llanrumney → Llanrhymni
Llantilio Crossenny → Llandeilo Gresynni
Llantilio Pertholey → Llandeilo Bertholau
Llantwit Major → Llanilltud Fawr
Llay → Llai
Maindy → Maendy
Manorbier → Maenorbŷr
Mardy → Y Maerdy
Merthyr Tydfil → Merthyr Tudful
Michaelston-le-Pit → Llanfihangel-y-pwll
Michaelston-super-Ely → Llanfihangel-ar-Elái
Miskin → Meisgyn
Neath → Castell-nedd
Nevern → Nyfer
Newquay → Ceinewydd
Ogmore → Aberogwr
Pembroke → Penfro
Penally → Penalun
Pendine → Pentywyn
Pyle → Y Pil
Rhayader → Rhaeadr
Risca → Rhisga
Roath → Y Rhath
Rudry → Rhydri
Ruthin → Rhuthun
Rumney → Rhymni
St. Athan → Sain Tathan
St. Brides → Sain Ffraid
St. Clears → Sanclêr
St. Dogmaels → Llandudoch
St. Donat’s → Sain Dunwyd
St. Fagans → Sain Ffagan
Severn → Hafren
Sketty → Sgeti
Skewen → Sgiwen
Strata Florida → Ystrad Fflur
Taff’s Well → Ffynnon Taf
Talley → Talyllychau
Tenby → Dinbych-y-pysgod
Tintern → Tyndyrn
Tumble → Y Tymbl
Undy → Gwndy
Van → Y Fan
Varteg → Y Farteg
Velindre → Felindre
Vyrnwy → Efyrnwy
Wentloog → Gwynllŵg
Wentwood → Coed Gwent
Wenvoe → Gwenfô
Wrexham → Wrecsam
Wye → Gwy