Centenary of the Birth of Dr Tudur Jones

Robert Tudur Jones (1921 – 1998)

This year marks the centenary of the birth of one of Plaid Cymru’s most eminent Vie-Presidents, Dr Tudur Jones, who held the office from 1957 to 1964. As Vice-President, he provided Gwynfor with active support in public and invaluable advice in private. Living in Bangor, he was also in regular touch with General Secretary, Elwyn Roberts, who was based in the Bangor office. The three, Gwynfor, Tudur and Elwyn, were very much on the same wavelength, representing a nationalism that arose from a deep commitment to the Welsh language and that was firmly based on Christian values. As it happens, all three were Congregationalists. In the nineteen-sixties the Welsh Congregationalist Union resolved to support self-government for Wales, famously declaring that Wales’s problem was that it was too far from God and too near to England!

Tudur Jones, generally referred to as simply ‘Dr Tudur’, stood as Plaid’s parliamentary candidate for Anglesey in the 1959 and 1964 general elections. From 1952 to 1964 he served as editor of Welsh Nation. and edited Y Ddraig Goch between 1964 and 1973. Indeed, he was a very prolific journalist. He had a column in the weekly newspaper, Y Cymro, and it is calculated that these amounted to over one and a half thousand articles. During the nineteen-seventies he gave moral and intellectual support to the campaigns of Cymdeithas Yr Iaith Gymraeg, both privately and publicly.

Dr Tudur was born in Rhos-lan near Cricieth, but was brought up in Rhyl, in the Vale of Clwyd. In 1939 he entered the University College at Bangor, where he was elected President of the Student Union, and gained a first-class degree in Philosophy. In 1945 he registered at Mansfield College, Oxford, to pursue theological studies, leading to the award of the degree of D.Phil. He was ordained a Minister of the Gospel in 1948, and fulfilled that vocation outstandingly as a preacher, scholar and teacher. In 1966 he was appointed Principal of the Bala-Bangor Theological College, Bangor, and on his retirement, was appointed honorary professor at his alma mater. His role as President of the International Congregational Federation from 1981 to 1985 is an indication of his standing at the international level.

In 1974 he set out his thoughts on nationhood and nationalism in the Welsh context in a book entitled, The Desire of Nations. The discussion has three aspects – philosophical, historical and political. The philosophical element seeks to analyse the concept of ‘nation’.

While rejecting those theories which base a people’s claim to nationhood solely on the subjective elements of feeling and willing, Dr Tudur does not disregard these elements as components of nationhood. They may well be necessary components, but alone, they are not sufficient.

Turning to objective criteria of nationhood, he rejects Professor J. R. Jones’s contention (1960) that nationhood amounts to a people’s having their own unique and unrepeatable ‘historical track’. In fact, many collectives which are not nations could just as easily make the same claim. He also rejected J. R.’s later theory (1966) that to be a nation a people need to be organised as a state. Yet, he concedes that there is a political aspect (in the broad sense) to nationhood in as much as a people who take themselves to be nation will be aware of their own internal and exclusive social and cultural structures. Those structures may, or may not, include the institutions of statehood, but, either way, their nationhood will be unaffected.

Similar ideas are reflected in Dr Tudur’s analysis of nationalism. Patriotism is a sentiment: it is a name for love of country. Nationalism is an ideology. It has an objective, rational and public aspect: it links nation and state. Nationalism views the state as an instrument in the service of the nation.  In the modern, global, world nations need the institutions of statehood to flourish, and even to survive.

The nationalism commended in The Desire of Nations has deep roots in Dr Tudur’s Christian faith. It is very alive to the danger of idolizing the nation or the state. This lies behind his reluctance (like Saunders Lewis and the older generation of Plaid activists) to speak in terms of ‘independence’ when speaking of self-government for Wales. It also lies at the root of his bruising encounter with the Adfer movement in the mid-seventies.  

Those who knew Tudur Jones will remember him as endowed with a notable physical presence and with commanding eloquence in both Welsh and English. His style was magisterial, but laced with a mischievous sense of humour. Responding to George Thomas’s contention that there was no such thing as ‘Welsh’ water because it was really God’s water, he challenged Thomas to inform the king of Saudi-Arabia that there was no such thing as ‘Saudi’ oil because it was really God’s oil!

Gwynn Matthews

Remembering Glyn James

A Blue Plaque in memory of the leading nationalist Glyn James was unveiled on Saturday 19th October at 9 Darran Terrace, Glyn Rhedynog / Ferndale, Rhondda CF43 4LG.  

The plaque was unveiled by Councillor Geraint Davies and tributes were given by Cennard Davies and Jill Evans A.E. A musical contribution was given by Côr y Morlais. The event was organised by Maerdy Archive and its Secretary, David Owen.  

 

Memorial Plaque for Glyn James

A Blue Plaque in memory of leading nationalist Glyn James will be unveiled at 2:00pm Saturday 19th October at 9 Darran Terrace, Glyn Rhedynog / Ferndale, Rhondda CF43 4LG.  The plaque will be unveiled by Councillor Geraint Davies and the event has been organised by the Maerdy Archive.  Refreshments will be served at Ferndale Business and Professional Men’s Club at 65-66 Dyffryn Street, Ferndale CF43 4EW, thanks to the Maerdy Archive.

 

Plaid Conference Lecture

“Relevance of the writings of Drs DJ and Noelle Davies to Wales today”

Darlithydd/Lecturer            Dr Hywel Davies

Cadeirydd /Chair                Steffan Lewis AC

                 4pm Friday 3 Mawrth

               Room 2 Dance Studio*

Translation facilities will be available

*Dim sodlau stiletto/*no stiletto heels

 

1947 – The War Office Creating Havoc in Wales

1947 – The War Office Creating Havoc in Wales (as told by two cuttings in Plaid Cymru’s Welsh-language paper, Y Ddraig Goch)

1947 Tregaron Y Ddraig Goch TachweddWHY?

Because the War Office was considering a takeover of 27,000 acres of agricultural land in the Tregaron area to provide a training camp for the Royal Engineers. This followed similar actions in Penyberth, Epynt, the Preseli mountains etc.  Later on, enlargement of the military camp at Bronaber near Trawsfynydd was also considered. Plaid Cymru led the opposition to all these in turn.

WHEN?

The campaign to save Tregaron in particular was fought between the autumn of 1947 and the summer of 1948.  The date of the protest seen in these two cuttings was Thursday, 16 October 1947.

WHERE?

The protest seen in the two images (‘the procession of flags’) took place in Park Place, Cardiff on Thursday, 16 October 1947.  On that day, the War Office was staging a conference with other government ministries to discuss the plans.  Dozens of telegrams were presented from all parts of Wales opposing the proposal to the Town and Country Planning official in Park Place that morning.

1947 Hydref 22 Baner ac Amserau CymruWHO?

Plaid Cymru led the campaign in Tregaron, in cooperation with local farmers and Undeb Cymru Fydd.  The protest in Cardiff was specifically organised by Plaid Cymru, with 20 party members taking part.  In the second picture, the procession is led by Nans Jones who worked in Plaid’s office in Cardiff.  She can be seen in the first picture too, standing second on the right next to the General Secretary J. E. Jones, (who is standing on the pavement).

WHAT was the result?

Some battles were won, others lost.  This was among those that were won, and the War Office gave up its plans to take over land in Tregaron by the summer of 1948.


1958 Conference by Philip Lloyd

The Plaid Conference and Summer School were held in Merthyr Tudful in 1958. The location was the grammar school in Cyfarthfa Castle, the old home of the Crawshays, where the family could look out across the valley on their profitable business, Cyfarthfa iron works.

The three photographs show discussions at the conference in the school hall. Sitting at the table on the stage are Dr R. Tudur Jones (Vice-President, Blaid), Gwynfor Evans (President), J.E. Jones (General Secretary) and Emrys Roberts (Assitant Secretary). Although this conference was held during the period of the ban on Plaid Cymru from Radio and Television by the Labour Party and Tories, there must have been some attention given in the media; the BBC microphone can be seen in each photograph.

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Llun 1: Unknown speaker. Anyone know who he is?

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Llun 2: the speaker is Trefor Beasley, I believe. Am I correct? On the table beyond the stage are the translators, Meirion Lloyd Davies and Chris Rees. Meirion told me later that there was no simultaneous-translation equipment available at that time: the translators would take notes while the speech was in progress and after it was finished the translator would rise to give an English summary for the non Welsh speaking members.

Meirion was a Prebyterian minister throght his life. Chris had fought Gower in the 1955 General Election. He moved to Swansea East for 1959, when we were both teachers at Ysgol Glan Clwyd, Y Rhyl. And when Blaid had a brief five minutes on the radio and television in 1965 he was responsible for the radio brodcast with Gwynfor on the televison.

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Llun 3: the speaker is Arthur Donaldson, SNP representative (he became leader in 1960). On the wall behind Emrys Roberts there is a poster announcing a public meeting organised by the Blaid against the H-bomb, to be held during the conference in a chapel in the town, with speeches by Dr Glyn [O.] Phillips, Gwynfor Evans and Michael Scott from the Direct Action Committee against nuclear war . The Direct Action Committee (1957-1961) was a pacifist group established in response to one on the H-bomb tests on Christmas Island in the Pacific Ocean between 1956 and 1967. The aim was ‘the conducting of non-violent direct action to obtain the total renunciation of nuclear war and its weapons by Britain and all other countries as a first step in disarmament’.

 

Empire Games Cardiff 1958, by Philip Lloyd

The Plaid’s main office was upstairs in a building on Queen Street, Cardiff at that time. A supply of programmes was obtained for sale to the public with the proceeds going to the Blaid. In the picture Glyn James can be seen selling at the entrance at the bottom of the stairs. Note the English name of the Blaid.

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