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ginnys ‘ COPYING SERVICE Copying Binding Printing Color Copying Graphics Word Processing Austin Lubbock Son Marcos offered to local residents at a reasonable price, but the Tories regard such a plan as a hobble on the free market. So who’s burning the houses? Following the fire reported in the local paper, a shadowy organization calling itself the Movement for Freedom for Wales claimed responsibility, coupled with a warning that the campaign against English-owned holiday homes in Wales is to escalate this year to include bombings until a free Wales has been achieved. A few days later, however, the organization sent a letter to the BBC in Bangor, a university town in North Wales, denying any involvement with the fire. Police Chief Superintendent Elwyn Davies told me a couple of weeks later that two men were in custody. He played down any political motive on their part, though he could have been handing me the official line. Dolgellau residents also told me about two men convicted a couple of years ago who turned out to be Englishmen protesting the closing of a factory near Liverpool. Another arsonist was an Austrian, although I found out later that the Austrian had settled in Dolgellau, given himself a traditional Welsh name, and brought to the Welsh nationalist movement all the zeal of a new convert. Members of Plaid Cymru are understandably edgy about such misguided enthusiasm. A party member and I were talking politics in a pub one night when an Englishman from the West Midlands overheard us and came over with what he called a “Welsh Nash joke.” “Maybe you’ve seen the ad on the telly,” he said. “Come home on a cold winter night to a nice fire; buy a holiday home in Wales.” The Plaid member shook his head wearily and launched into the jokester with a fiery Welsh eloquence. “I hear that all the time,” he said. \(He himself had also been stopped and searched by doing the burning,” he said, wagging his finger at the man, “don’t stand here talking to us; go tell the police.” “The burning of second homes is a dangerous and futile exercise,” Dafydd Elis Thomas, a Dolgellau resident and one of two Plaid Cymru Members of Cambrian News. “It prevents rather than helps national political debate about the social problems generated by second homes. Fire razing is no way to solve political and social problems.” Recently Thomas sent a letter of protest to the editor of the London Daily Telegraph in response to a story that equated arsonists with Welsh nationalists, and thus with Plaid Cymru mem bers. The MP has appealed to the National Press Council. Though Plaid Cymru in no way endorses arson, the party does see the holiday-home issue as the latest in a long list of injustices resulting from English exploitation of Wales. Plaid has recently filed suit, for example, against the Welsh Water Authority over its policy of selling Welsh water to Liverpool, Birmingham, and other large English cities at rates lower than the Welsh themselves pay. Such exploitation, party members would say, goes back at least to the year 1282, when English troops killed Llywelyn, the last Welsh prince. In 1536, with the terms of the Act of Union, Wales was merged into the English state. Relief will come, Welsh nationalists believe, only when home rule comes to Wales. Plaid Cymru was established in 1925 in an effort to seek the establishment of some form of Welsh state and to ensure the well-being of the Welsh language. A Welsh state seems as far off as ever, but on the language front, Welsh nationalists \(including the milisome important battles. Welsh is now the language of the curriculum in many of the schools; BBC television, channel four, now offers two hours of programming a week in Welsh; and the Welsh Language Act, passed in 1967, recognizes that the Welsh Language is coequal under the law with the English language in Wales. Road signs are now in both languages, and most official documents are bilingual. A defendant can insist that his or her trial be conducted in Welsh. These days Plaid Cymru is gearing up for Dafydd Iwan’s campaign for the North Wales seat in the European Parliament, the governing body for the Iwan, a former Chairman of the Welsh Language Society and a member of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, is also Wales’ best-known folk singer. He writes and performs his own songs, always in Welsh, and, in the best tradition of the Welsh bards, always resolutely topical. In his earlier years, he was arrested for stealing and defacing English signs in Wales. Now in his early 40’s and the owner of a recording company, Iwan doesn’t look like a folk singer. The night I met him, his brown hair was cut short and he wore a coat and tie. He probably won’t win the Conservative incumbent is the favorite but he is an articulate man, and the campaign will offer him an opportunity to speak out on Welsh issues. The election is in June. Iwan will stress that Wales, along with Britain, is increasingly under American domination and at the mercy of multinational corporations, that Brussels is more concerned about regional developments in places like Wales than the Thatcher government is, and that Wales needs someone conversant with agricultural issues, since EEC agricultural programs, despite their faults, inject 60 million pounds a year into rural Wales. The Plaid Cymru candidate will also call for an energy policy emphasizing coal and renewables and excluding nuclear power, a European nuclear-free zone stretching from the Atlantic to the Urals and from the Arctic to the Mediterranean, increased EEC support for Third World countries, and recognition and support for cultural and linguistic minorities. The long-term aim is, of course, full national, status for Wales within a reformed European community. “This,” according to party campaign literature, “would free Wales from the increasing centralism of the British state and from the crushing burden of British militarism. It would transform Wales’ position in Europe.” I met with Dafydd Iwan and his supporters in a hotel pub in Betws-yCoed, a little resort town near Dolgellau, where they had gathered for their first campaign strategy session. They were an affable group, but they decided not to allow me inside the meeting itself. There was some concern that my Texas twang was a ruse, that in reality I was a Tory spy or even worse, a cop who understood Welsh. So I waited in the hotel lounge reading about Plaid Cymru’s remarkable founder, Saunders Lewis, and talking to a group of English young people who were working in Betws-y-Coed under a government scheme similar to Roosevelt’s CCC. A young Birmingham woman in a black blouse, black jeans and black boots called to a friend in the bar, a dark-skinned young man wearing an Indian scarf. “Come listen to this chap,” she said. “‘e sounds just like J.R.” THE TEXAS OBSERVER 23