The new Assembly year officially starts on Monday. Yay. No doubt many of you have been bored during the down time or found something better to do. If you haven’t done that, you might’ve spent time on TV Tropes – equally one of the best and worst sites there is.
Tropes are, broadly-speaking, recurring plot devices or stereotypes of concepts rather than phrases. They can equally be applied to works of fiction or real life, so I’ve decided to come up with some for Welsh politics.
The Proud Welshman/Welshwoman – A distant cousin to “I’m not a racist, but…” How proud someone is to be Welsh will be cited by them just before they say something that proves they’re not proud to be Welsh at all. Their natural evolutionary progression is to become the Self-Loathing Welshman/woman.
The Valleys Thatcherite – The ultimate political contrarian. Either they were one of the hardcore who actually supported the Conservative party through the 1970s and 1980s, or they’re simply too young to remember it. If they’re brave enough to man the trenches and stand for the Tories (or, nowadays, UKIP too) in certain inhospitable parts of Wales, it’ll no doubt improve their chances of landing in a safe Home Counties seat in future.
The 90 Minute Nationalist – Unless it involves a ball, Wales is shite. Will passionately support Welsh national teams for the duration of a match. Will belt out a tone deaf, drunken rendition of the national anthem too. Will also pour scorn on any idea that a country with its own football or rugby teams neither of which, by rights, should even exist can possibly have its own foreign policy or military….like most the teams they play against.
Nye’s Nihilists – Men and women of a certain age who venerate Aneurin Bevan and have a rose-tinted view of Old Labour socialism but produce bile that wouldn’t be out of place in the NF. They’ll happily tell you all that’s wrong with the world but will offer absolutely no ideas on what can be done to make things right (apart from abolishing all forms of government).
The Codeswitching Pub – Pubs, usually located in north west Wales, where the regulars – upon sniffing out an approaching anglophone patron – will switch to speaking Welsh. You’ve got to assume the victims of this nationally-instituted prank have their ears to the door (or bat-like hearing), making sure everyone inside is speaking English before calling the rest of their party over.
The Piggybacker – Using membership of a party to push personal ideas not the ideology or policies of the party itself: a nationalist who doesn’t believe in independence for example but is more concerned about green issues, Independent politicians who act as though they’re a party, or a socialist who espouses views closer to the Conservatives on welfare. Usually it’s done for convenience to ensure they’re selected to run but it means there’s probably a large number of people – particularly at local government level – who are in the wrong party for the wrong reasons.
The Vast Majority – A mythical majoritarian elementof the population whose views render all other options obsolete. These views are usually not based on any polling or empirical evidence, but drawn through telepathy between politicians and the public, which miraculously lines up with what the politician thinks.
MOUNT CAPSLOCK – Behind the otherwise calm veneer is a chip on their shoulder the size of a surfboard. Somehow manages to get into a volcanic anger over the silliest of things, with everything either being a “conspiracy by the Welsh elite”or an “insult to Wales”. Regularly found in comments sections on online news sites.
The Party Drone – Your news feed will be assimilated; resistance is futile. Everything their leader or favourite politician does is spectacular, whether it’s a bumbled speech or their latest curry fart. Doesn’t realise they’re in a collective consciousness where they mainly share their views with people exactly like themselves. Useful during an election; ignored for the rest of the year.
Gone Native – Someone who moves to Wales and adopts the culture and traits of the people around them to the point of, in come circumstances, considering themselves more Welsh than the Welsh. Generally, these are seen as the “good kind” of migrant – whether from England or elsewhere. Their ideological opposite is….
Mr & Mrs Lebensraum – “The trouble with Wales is the Welsh”. Publicly or privately believes Wales is in an unbreakable anschluss with England – which doesn’t exactly bode well for their opinions on other matters like race or the Welsh language. Fails to appreciate the irony of their often-held anti-immigration views.
The Crachach – Non-titled petty gentry who find their way into influential positions in the arts, media, civil society or politics based on patronage, cronyism and/or nepotism – usually such positions are vaguely titled but almost always high-paying. Small-c conservatives, very protective of their own and the only way you can join is by either marrying or being born into it.
The Good-Intentioned Rent-a-Mob – You’ll recognise them by the loudhailer permanently attached to their face, and their weak grip due to the carpal tunnel syndrome they’ve got from holding up placards for hours on end. It never achieves anything but at least they got off their arse and did something.
A Gazette Problem – An otherwise unusual issue deemed important enough to make the front page of the local press. Sometimes it really is important – like fundraising for an unfathomably rare disease; but most of the time it’s accompanied by photos of either an elderly man pointing at a pothole or big pile of dog poo, or lots of children standing in the street with their arms folded.
The Committee Man/Woman – The Welsh solution to every problem is to form a committee (other names include: working group, advisory group, task and finish group) and this is the way the political establishment makes you a “made man/woman”. Get your arse in a chair; the connections you make will set you up for life. Blazer with badges optional.
The Honours Sellout – Someone at the top of Welsh society, particularly in the arts or politics, who switches from being a humble voice of rebellion or change to a less than humble voice of the establishment once an honour, senior office or title is dangled in front of them.
The Sanctimonious Blogger – An audience of tens; an ego in the stratosphere. Knows “what’s really going on” through a mixture of logical fallacies, tin foil headware and winging it. Wastes countless hours that could’ve been spent becoming a better human being by doing things like drawing up a list of political tropes. Inwardly wants to die.