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THE CRACHACH

The History of the Welsh Dragon - Symbol of Wales

Unlike me, do you consider yourself part of 'the establishment' here in Wales? 

As thousands gather for the Eisteddfod in Mold this morning, they will, according to some social commentators, not be participating in the greatest cultural festivals of Europe. Instead, they will merely be bit-part players in one of the annual gatherings of the great and good of Wales. 

Unkindly, this set of the movers and shakers in Welsh society is known as 'the crachach', and constitute a social class all of their own, dominating the educational, cultural and media sectors of Wales and allegedly looking down upon any outsider with new ideas, reinforcing mediocrity and failing to see beyond the limits of their own narrow experience. 

They are said to live in a comfort zone that awaits the expected invitation to the next glass of chilled chardonnay and canapés, forgetting that due to their lack of leadership and drive, Wales remains firmly rooted to the bottom of the UK prosperity league table, and has done so for the last decade. 

Many of us supported the Assembly's creation because it would mean greater democracy within Wales, but it would indeed seem that the vast majority of senior appointments within various institutions have been reinforcements of the old guard, with attitudes that appear to be based firmly on looking backwards rather than forwards to a better future for this nation. So how do you join this exclusive club? 

Well, make sure you don't rock the boat, keep your mouth closed when faced with any inequality, and be prepared to keep your eyes firmly shut when everything is falling to pieces around you. As a result, others in your elite club will look the other way and eventually reward your incompetence. 

As one writer recently stated, if the 'crachach' had a coat of arms, their motto would be 'It's who you know, not what you know". Given this, should it really be surprising that many people in Wales who have gained positions of authority in this way maintain their status through old fashioned means such as promotion, perks and protection. 

Such individuals are happy to enforce the status quo and keep things as they are, seeing any innovation or change as a threat rather than a way of achieving their organisation's goals. 

Like many, I had hoped that as the 'crachach' were moved from their positions of power, Wales could move on as a nation, but there remains a core who still seem to dominate certain aspects of Welsh civic society, despite having very few tangible leadership skills. 

There are a few exceptions but surely we should have more leaders in Wales with a vision that encourages and inspires others and releases the vast potential within this country? 

When are we going to finally wake up to new age in Wales where ability, rather than patronage, becomes the key to achieving success not only for individuals and organisations but for society as a whole? 

Only then can we really begin to make a difference to our great nation.

Comments

Anonymous said…
I think you've touched upon something very important here - the sclerotic conservatism (with a small 'c') that now increasingly seems to hold back our development as a nation.

We are starting to gain a reputation as a country that defines itself for what it is we are against and what we will not do rather than what we are positively 'for'.

You are right, the same people dominate Welsh life as dominated it 10-15 years ago. They hold the important strategic positions in civic life and dominate the discourse in a way that does not allow new ideas and new thinking to emerge.

It is as if we are happy to allow the same old answers to the same old debates influence the way we do things here.
Normal Mouth said…
A really, really insightful post Dylan. After eight years it is obvious that the Assembly has not widened the pool of people who make the decisions. In that sense, the ruling clique is still peopled in much the same way it was pre-1999. It's worth noting, however, that there is greater democratic control of this clique, and they have to account for their actions more fully than they once did.

The Eisteddfod link is particularly pertinent; the grip that Wales's elite has on culture is particularly suffocating and represses a range of creativity that exists in Wales.

The bitter irony of a Labour-Plaid link up, for all the talk of mould breaking and history making, is that it cements the grip this old elite has even more firmly.
Anonymous said…
There is more democratic control of them, it is true. However they certainly kicked up enough of a fuss when the 'bonfre of the quangos' was first suggested, fearing their little empire may come to an end.
Anonymous said…
There are many that are being held back and held down Dylan as you know. If you offend one of the glitterati, then god help you - your career can be curtailed, your business choked, even your political life cut off.
How do these people, often talent less and with no regard for anything other than their socio-cultural well being manage to stay where they are?
Where can new talent rise from .there is a concrete ceiling in place with the crach standing firm on it.
How do you break in, would you really want to?
May be start a counter movement to challenge en mass. There is safety in numbers after all.
For us non Welsh speakers there is an even great challenge – we are linguistically out cast too
hafod said…
It's a little sly to refer to the crachach in the context of the Eisteddfod. There *is* a Welsh-speaking crachach, think Menna Richards and the various Talfan Davieses, but there are far more non-Welsh speaking crachach.
And to hear a Tory complaining about a self-appointed elite. Puhlease... who stuffed the quangos full of dim-witted appointees purely on the basis of their political bias?
Anonymous said…
'When are we going to finally wake up to new age in Wales where ability, rather than patronage, becomes the key to achieving success not only for individuals and organisations, but for society as a whole?’

When we in Wales, Welsh or Incomer, Welsh speaking or not start believing that things can and should be changed.

Everything is cosy because those at the top strangle everything progressive and forward looking to protect themselves, whether they are the Crachach or otherwise.

We need to sober up out of our drunken state, the glass it very definitely half empty.
Anonymous said…
Great article - unlike Hafod's blast to the past, this actually shows how Welsh Conservative values - at least amongst some members - have changed in the last ten years.

Good on you, prof!
Sir.

As a fully paid up member of the anti-establishment of Wales I agree with much of what you have written regarding the 'crachach'.

I note that you describe this term as being "unkindly". Why is this? My Geiriadur defines 'crachach' as snobs. Is this clear truth unkind?

Your own article is a veritable bonanza of examples of snobbishness by the crachach whereby their self-perceived 'superiority' is to be maintained at all costs.

If, presumably, when pigs have flown, Wales becomes 'independent', I suppose that this self-same crachach will be held to be the 'natural' choice to maintain their control of Welsh affairs. Their various Party loyalties are a mere facade to conceal their own self interest. It borders on the Masonic.

This heartens me somewhat. Although, as has been stated, some of the crachach are non-Welsh speakers, it is still one of their avowed intentions to use compulsion in the shape of Legislation to continually force the use of Welsh on the mainly English speaking population of Wales.

They tried encouragement it failed. They tried persuasion, it failed. Now they resort to compulsion, which I believe will also fail.

It is my firm belief that this continued insistence by the Crachach and Republico/Nationalist factions that the Welsh language be forced upon an unwilling majority of the population of Wales will be instrumental in their downfall.

Unfortunately, for the proponents of Welsh speaking, their plans appear to have horribly backfired as the Welsh speaking youth of Wales appear to now speak 'Wenglish' with a daily absorption of English words and a total absence of reverse traffic.

It logically follows that Welsh will eventually, through this process of absorption, be reduced to a 'patois'. This will be a sorry day.

I believe that Welsh should now be preserved in its 'pure' form, in much the same way as Latin or Ancient Greek and its quality be preserved for posterity.

The alternative is a continued dilution, as Welsh has been unable to keep pace with the speed of 'modern' living and our rapidly changing World.

Whilst I acknowledge that these views may upset the Crachach and the Republico/Nationalists, I sincerely believe that this is the only way to preserve this ancient language for posterity.

The Republico/Nationalists frequently refer to the Scots as a model of sustained success in their quest for more self determination. Unfortunately, they fail to acknowledge that the Scots' success is partly due to their abandonment of any linguistic requirements in their Governance. The Welsh have much to learn.

The Republico/Nationalists, irrespective of Party, appear to display many crachach-like qualities themselves and appear to no more than aspirant 'crachach' themselves.

Your pursuivant pal.

johnny.
Anonymous said…
A very interesting post. This kind of cliqueism is indeed a serious problem here in Wales, and it is small wonder that we are largely a nation of pessimists.
Keir Hardly said…
Excellent post Dylan, although i think you have been a bit generous to skirt over some the tory quango appointments during the 80s and 90s. Although the crachach does have a few non-welsh speakers, i still believe it is a very linguistic driven thing and the lack of being able to speak welsh is often a very big hurdle to overcome for people. Such a lingusitic barricade was evident when the eistedfodd was staged in Newport, the GLC, a famous rap group from the city were not allowed to play because of their english only lyrics robbing the event of thousands of young people who may have been inspired to learn the language or enjoy more welsh culture had they attended.

The crachach, and the culture which they indulge is incubated by subsidy and self importance.
Peter D Cox said…
Well said, and join the club of those who can forget a place on a quango, a government consultancy or gong!
I've quoted you extensively today http://www.peterdcox.me.uk/pcox.nsf/ and added my own take on the ways Welsh public institutions contribute to the malaise of the nation.
As to what to do: encourage the mavericks, flatter the old-guard into retirement, mow down dinosaurs - and hang on in there ....
Anonymous said…
Such a lingusitic barricade was evident when the eistedfodd was staged in Newport, the GLC, a famous rap group from the city were not allowed to play because of their english only lyrics robbing the event of thousands of young people who may have been inspired to learn the language or enjoy more welsh culture had they attended.


I think you're confusing the issue of crachach here. The Eisteddfod is quite right to insist on Welsh only acts. The crachach Dylan is refering to is not one dominated by Welsh speakers. It is a phenomena in Wales that crosses any linguistic divide, which I think Dylan makes quite clear.
Alwyn ap Huw said…
What a load of rubbish. If you have evidence of corruption and nepotism in Welsh society then expose it properly, name names - make an official complaint to the proper authorities, rather than relying on tired old cliches about some anonymous Eisteddfod run oligarchy.

I have attended eisteddfodau for the best part of 30 years, I have competed, I have served on organising committees, but I have not gained a penny never mind a job in return.

Yes, I have met some of the great and the good in Welsh public life as a result of my involvement in the Eisteddfod movement but I have not gained any personal advantage through those contacts, neither have I lost out (as far as I know) by pissing some of the big wigs off.

When these sort of accusations are made by by barfly they are pathetic, when they are made by an University Professor, an oft quoted "expert" and a newspaper columnist they wreak of hypocrisy.

Like it or not Dylan, you are a part of the Welsh establishment. (You've even been spotted at an Eisteddfod or two!). If Wales is as corrupt, nepotistic and inward looking as you claim, then you could only have gained your exalted positions by being part of the problem. If, on the other hand, you have attained your exalted positions in academia, journalism and public life through merit then your claims of corruption must be false.
Anonymous said…
This has obviously touched a nerve with Alwyn. Unfortunately, he has not read the article properly, as the other commentators have - although as he was posting at two in the morning, so perhaps he should be forgiven for being tired and emotional :)

This insightful piece has absolutely nothing to do with the Eisteddfod, as the article points out in the first paragraph.

This is to do with the leeching elite in Wales (both english and welsh speaking; Plaid Cymru, Conservative, and Labour supporters; from North, West, Mid and South Wales) who merely use the Eisteddfod - and others such as Llangollen, BAFTA Wales Awards, the opening night of the WNO, complimentary seats at rugby matches - as their own personal receptions, with the wine, tickets and food paid for mainly from the public purse, unlike the hundreds of thousands of others (such as Alwyn) who have to fork out from their hard earned wages.

As for Alwyn's final point about the prof being part of the Establishment - read the entire blog for god's sake!!!
Keir Hardly said…
"I think you're confusing the issue of crachach here. The Eisteddfod is quite right to insist on Welsh only acts. The crachach Dylan is refering to is not one dominated by Welsh speakers. It is a phenomena in Wales that crosses any linguistic divide, which I think Dylan makes quite clear."

I am fully aware of what Dylan makes clear, but whether you agree or not, language plays a vital role in incubating the clique, it is called the 'CRACACH' for christ sake!

and no i am not confusing the crachach with the Eisteddfodd in NEWPORT, which was intended to attract NEW people to the Eisteddfod. The people of Newport, 9% of who speak Welsh, were looking for an olive branch, a sign it can be included in a great Welsh cultural event, it was sadly let down. The crachach mentality was behind such a move, it was about preservation, cultural conversativism, about inner cliques being inward and then complaining they cannot extend outward etc. That is the connection i made.

So much of the crachach is i repeat incubated by subsidy and self importance. Read S4C's annual report and tell me it is providing a service that is equal to its funding, tell me that government money should be used to provide a national daily newspaper that discriminates against English speakers (remember english speaking people of the general public are not at fault for any supposed 'discrimination' of Welsh speakers) is a good use of public money? Surely a bi lingual newspaper is not only a fair use of money but one which actually might make the newspaper commercially viable and not a cash cow for subsidy.
Huw Lewis said…
Dylan, this really is an excellent and challenging post. I have put forward many similar points myself in the past, but being a poor mudblood from the Valleys these comments are always sadly misconstrued (or more likely purposefully misinterpreted) as being somehow anti-Welsh or at the very least anti the Welsh language. You are exactly right when you say too few hands remain on the control levers in Welsh civic society. John Smith's vision of devolution, which I have always ascribed to, was of a process that would bring control closer to communities - actually quite a socialist vision (which you may not share). Too little progress has been made on that road, and Wales is a poorer nation because of it..
cleckanndra said…
The key point is this - and it should unite all who care about Wales, and about devolution working.

Power has passed from Westminster to Cardiff Bay BUT NOT TO THE REST OF WALES.

Immediately that power was carved up by the key players in the cracach. Most of that was filtered through the IWA [see my comment on gwe's posting re the IWA]. many of the new AMs are (perhaps, even, unconsciously) extentions of the Cracach. Power is carved up by the AMs under influence (in wine bars and dinner parties) by the cracach and by the PR-manipulator companies they use and come under the influence of.

The key thing is this.

Devolution has moved from one centre of elitism (the village of Westminster) to another centre of elitism - Cardiff Bay. In the two square miles [which encompass all of the main media, too] around Cardiff Bay - everything is clustered, careved-up, distributed, stopped, funded, de-funded, stifled, castrated.

Devolution HAS happened - for Cardiff Bay. Devolution has NOT
happened for the vast majority of the rest of Wales, because the power, patronage, funding and other decisions have stopped there.

Dylan may be talking here out of frustration because he has been snubbed and had the door closed on him by the Cracach. [Perhaps he has upset just one key member - for that's all it takes. Perhaps it's because he is a Tory - for it needs no other reason for the Cracach to choose to isolate). Only Dylan will know the answer to that.

But what is clear to me [and I am no Tory] is that he wants a strong, vibrant economy for Wales, knows more about how to achieve that [with good, strong, robust, up-to-date, evidence-based research], and has the independence of mind to speak out about the stultifying vested interests [the cracach] which are holding power to themselves, are not qualified, equipped, or experienced enough to run an ailing economy.

The more Dylan Jones-Evans's we have across the political spectrum - the better.

I just feel, Dylan, you would have been more effective if you hadn't
stultified your self by joining any political party.
Anonymous said…
This post really has dragged some unsavoury charachters from underneath the cabbage leaves. 17 replies. Why link the Eisteddfod exclusively with this real or imagined group in Wales. I don't think any Labour MP's were there so it can't be that bad. The most sensical replies here were Alwyn's and cleckanndras'
Anonymous said…
it is called the 'CRACACH' for christ sake!
A good name, which underlines the Welshness of the phenomena, not its language/

and no i am not confusing the crachach with the Eisteddfodd in NEWPORT, which was intended to attract NEW people to the Eisteddfod. The people of Newport, 9% of who speak Welsh, were looking for an olive branch, a sign it can be included in a great Welsh cultural event, it was sadly let down. The crachach mentality was behind such a move, it was about preservation, cultural conversativism, about inner cliques being inward and then complaining they cannot extend outward etc. That is the connection i made.

This may be what you believe, but is mistaken. Olive branch? There is no war! The Eisteddfod is to celebrate the Welsh language and literature, not a recruiting venture. There's no point complaining that it's all in Welsh! There are plenty of monoglot English events in Wales as it is. It seems rather strange that people who do not speak Welsh and who do not frequent Eisteddfodau should have cause to complain that events celebrating the language should be entirely in Welsh.
Keir Hardly said…
"It seems rather strange that people who do not speak Welsh and who do not frequent Eisteddfodau should have cause to complain that events celebrating the language should be entirely in Welsh."

Again you talk about insulating welsh speaking culture, rather than expanding it accross linguistic divides. Especially when public money is used to fund it (check the website for its sponsors). The 'olive branch' comes from the fact that the eisteddfod in Newport was billed as the eistedfodd attracting welsh learners and exposing a popolous area of wales that has very little awareness of the event. It quickly retreated back into its cultural conservatism, its subsidy, it exclusivity.
Anonymous said…
Proletarian - quiet day in the Plaid Group office, mate?
Anonymous said…
Maxx said...
"Proletarian - quiet day in the Plaid Group office, mate?"

No mate. I have two days off work. Back tomorrow for another 6 shifts. Then off for two. Five week rota system at the end of which I will get two weekends of 3 days......Piss off.
Thanks for your comments on this post on this website and others (even the last two!!)

I thought I would write on this subject because it was my opinion that Wales has been stifled during the last few years by an elite that will simply just not listen.

That elite is not limited by politics, social class or language - just an inability to make sure that Wales makes the most of its talents, wherever it comes from.

With a new Assembly Government, I though it was time to raise this issue again and, as the majority of the posts have noted, there is certainly an opinion on the matter.

Contrary to a couple of posts, the piece had nothing to do with the National Eisteddfod - which is one of the greatest cultural festivals in the World.

I merely used it as an example of a major occasion which is used as a gathering place for the Welsh elite who forget the thousands of paying punters who attend and the efforts of volunteers like Alwyn.

If it had been written at the time of the Llangollen International Eisteddfod, I would have used that as an example.

I just hope that this debate can be broadened because we do need to ensure, as a small nation, that we make maximise all of our people to the best of their abilities. Only then can we start to make a difference - politically, socially and economically - to Cymru fach.
Is "piss off" a common term in use by the crachach ?

On the substantive point it is surely no surprise that societies contain some political/ societal "elites" and the job of the rest is to unsettle them and create our alternative structures.

Just don't get sucked in and then change is more possible. Perhaps reflecting that devolution in itself is not the solution but the policies / values that drive us.
Anonymous said…
All very well and good to complain of the "crach" - but who'll throw the first stone and challenge these crachach to defend their suitability for whatever posts they hold?
Anonymous said…
Dylan says....

".....National Eisteddfod - which is one of the greatest cultural festivals in the World."

johnny says....

In theory, yes. Unfortunately, the Eisteddfod appears to have been hi-jacked by the Politicos for their own self interest.

Kindly check Glyn Davies' blog for confirmation.

Your propaedeutic pal.

johnny.
Anonymous said…
anon 10:02 The answer to your question is Alun Cairns, apparently...

Criticism of Meri’s Labour link Aug 9 2007
by Martin Shipton, Western Mail

THE chair of the Welsh Language Board has been strongly criticised after agreeing to serve on a committee that will recommend how Labour can increase its support among Welsh speakers.

Earlier this week Labour MEP Eluned Morgan named Meri Huws, right, as one of several party members who will draw up a report for Labour’s Welsh Executive. The committee will meet under the auspices of Cymdeithas Cledwyn, a Labour Welsh language forum.

When Ms Huws was appointed chair of the Language Board in 2004 by the then Culture Minister Alun Pugh, it was alleged he had preferred her above a better qualified candidate because of her party affiliation.

Tory AM Alun Cairns said yesterday, “This is absolutely scandalous, and a huge misjudgement on the part of Meri Huws, and, in my view, on the part of the Minister who apparently approved her involvement in this committee. The circumstances of her original appointment were controversial, although it is fair to say that since then she has reached out to other parties.”

An Assembly Government spokeswoman said, “We understand that Meri Huws was asked to provide information to Cymdeithas Cledwyn in her capacity as Chair of the Welsh Language Board. She confirmed before doing so that the Heritage Minister (Plaid Cymru’s Rhodri Glyn Thomas) was content for her to do so.” Ms Huws did not respond to messages left for her yesterday.
Anonymous said…
Meri Huws....nothing to do with the crach. Let's just say that she's a kind of Welsh Mata Hari. Just ask Andrew Davies!
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