Thursday, July 29, 2010

To Dream of Freedom by Roy Clews, reviewed

Right, whatever temporary mild short-lived fascination with militant Welsh nationalism I may have had, is now firmly over. This book was more sympathetic to the clowns from the Free Wales Army than John Humphries' Freedom Fighters which I read the week before and reviewed. It's also much less analytical than Humphries' patchy effort and certainly more polemical.

It is a series of partial accounts from people who were swept up in the hysteria of Welsh nationalism from 1966 to 1969, so fair play for getting first person accounts. It mainly suffers greatly from a lack of context and analysis. Some bits even made me laugh out loud at the posturing and organisational ineptitude of the FWA,

But it also served to deepen my anger at John Jenkins from MAC and his high minded lack of accountability for the bombs that maimed an RAF officer - he claims it wasn't "our boys". Neither was the one left in a locker at Cardiff station. But that's the problem with autonomous cells and leaderless resistance, people do their own thing. Nutters who don't and can't make moral judgements.

It also really annoyed me that the FWA were cited as "anti-communist" and "nationalist" but were probably to all intents and purposes neo-fascists. The uniforms, the oaths, the rhetoric. Clews makes no comment about them receiving correspondence from the National Front leader John Tyndall, or their links to the IRA. And maybe Humphries was better connected to the police through his job on the Western Mail, but the roles of Special Branch and MI5 remain half told by Humphries here, and not at all by Clews.

That all said, it's been interesting. And I've enjoyed rediscovering a few anthems from Rhyl rockers The Alarm. I'm sure the soaring 68 Guns is about the FWA. It is now.

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