How could it happen?
How could a party which views Wales as nothing more than a region of England become the fastest growing movement in Welsh politics?
How could so many voters support an English nationalist party which, up until 2013, was passionately campaigning to abolish the Welsh Assembly?
It’s something we puzzle over as UKIP continues to rise in popularity. We try to comfort ourselves by dismissing their voters as being thick or racist or English immigrants. Which they may well be.
But, unfortunately, you don’t need to be any of those things to share UKIP’s basic attitude towards the nation – you just need to live here.
Because treating Wales as a region of England/Britain isn’t just the radical and seditious view of a right-wing party – it has become the default Welsh mindset.
It’s a result of British nationalism; something which is supported by just about everyone who holds a position of power in Wales. It’s taught to us at school and maintained throughout our lives by our politicians, institutions and media.
It’s an endemic form of nationalism which constantly reminds us that we’re ‘one nation’ – whether it’s One Nation Labour or One Nation Tory. We’re Better Together. We defend ‘British values’. We support ‘our boys’ to protect ‘our country’.
And when you strip away the wrapping around British nationalism, it’s obvious that this ‘one nation’ is really England.
The British national anthem is the English national anthem. British values – a stiff upper lip, a respect for monarchy, pomp and circumstance etc – are English values.
In Wales, we have English laws, an English monarchy, English currency. The majority of Welsh people are English monoglots, having been taught Welsh only as a foreign language.
As a consequence, most of us are limited to an English media world which is uniform in its presentation of this UKIP friendly form of Britishness.
It’s infinite BBC programmes with ‘Great British’ in the title. It’s the idolisation of the military and royalty. It’s a news agenda dominated by the arrogance and bigotry of a right-wing English media – Daily Mail, Telegraph, Sun and Express.
It’s a nationalism so deeply embedded that we don’t even recognise it as nationalism. It’s a mindset that accepts Wales only on the most superficial of levels. It allows for the veneer of a nation – a flag and an anthem and some sports teams – but recoils at the idea of any genuine power or responsibility.
It’s a nationalsim in which the Welsh language and culture is grudgingly tolerated, as long as it remains safely locked in its sealed box – it’s talked about fondly, occasionally dusted off and admired but mostly, completely ignored.
The fact that people who are brought up in this Wales feel that an English nationalist party best reflects their attitudes, shouldn’t be a surprise.
Neither should it be a shock that so many Welsh people’s views on race and immigration are completely in tune with the daily tide of hate, fear and bigotry which the English media soaks them in.
Whether it’s UKIP or the Conservatives or Labour – the only real difference is the subtlety with which these groups present their British nationalism.
Stephen Kinnock, David Davies or Neil Hamilton – same old, same old. We are already living in a UKIP wonderland.