Crachach ([ˈkraχaχ]) is a pejorative term sometimes used to refer to members of the Establishment in Wales. The crachach are usually said to be Welsh-speaking and are said to be found in influential positions in the arts, politics, academia and the media. The term 'Taffia' is sometimes used in a similar sense.
The use of the term crachach is considered to be offensive by some.
Crachach in Welsh means 'petty gentry; conceited upstarts, snobs'. It is most common in the dialects of south Wales. Crachach is derived from crach, which has the basic meaning of 'scabs (on the skin)' and a secondary meaning of 'snobs'.
In English-language use it is often employed to suggest the existence of a small, usually Welsh-speaking elite whose interests are opposed to those of the majority of the Welsh people. Academic Richard Wyn Jones has argued that fear of such a supposed Welsh-speaking elite was characteristic of anti-devolutionists in the Welsh devolution referendum, 1979:
There was a perception amongst anti-devolutionists that devolution was some sort of plot by the establishment, by the crachach. Their [the anti-devolutionists’] idea that they were standing up for ‘the people’ was reinforced by 1979.
The term is sometimes used in political discourse in Wales. As First Minister of Wales, the Labour politician Rhodri Morgan stated that Wales would have 'Cynulliad y werin, nid Cynulliad y crachach' ('an Assembly of the people, not an Assembly of the crachach').
In 2010, Welsh Labour education minister Leighton Andrews criticized the Higher Education sector in Wales for not contributing to Welsh prosperity levels: 'For too many in Wales, higher education remains a distant, and irrelevant activity, clouded in mystery [...] It appears that higher education governance in post-devolution Wales has become the last resting place of the crachach.'
The term crachach is not uncommonly used in the English-language media in Wales, usually in a supposedly light-hearted vein.
An attempt to summarise the crachach, described as 'tongue-in-cheek', was made by journalist Carolyn Hitt:
Supremely confident in all social situations, you can spot them by their habit of looking over your left shoulder as they scan the room for someone more important than you to talk to. Older crachach can be fiercely Welsh nationalist yet not averse to receiving gongs from the Queen. Younger arty crachach will always get their projects funded, however rubbish they may be. [...] Crachach society is not a meritocracy. If the crachach had a coat of arms, the motto would be that old chestnut: 'It's who you know not what you know and make sure you're belonging to someone on the committee'.
She claimed that the crachach generally made their homes in Pontcanna, Whitchurch and the Vale of Glamorgan.
In 1997, when then Welsh Secretary, William Hague MP, became engaged to marry a member of his staff, Ffion Jenkins (the daughter of the one-time head of the Welsh Arts Council, Emyr Jenkins), Roger Dobson of the Independent wrote that Hague was marrying into the crachach. He quoted Rhodri Morgan as saying of Ffion Jenkins, 'As far as the Crachach are concerned, she's marrying a commoner'. A nameless 'Welsh poet' was quoted as saying that 'The Crachach as we know it has really been built up over the last 30 to 40 years when the establishment of Wales has gravitated to Cardiff. It's a ruling elite, a lot of whom are related. When it comes to networking they make the Masons look like inadequates".
The term crachach is considered to be offensive by some, as it stigmatises a linguistic minority, and suggests their involvement in a conspiracy of some sorts. Simon Brooks has written that crachach 'is best described as "hate speech" against those from a minority (i.e. Welsh-speaking) background who have the impunity not to be poor, and not to be bullied into giving up their own culture'. He notes that there are no equivalent terms for those of other backgrounds who hold influential posts in Wales.
Labour MP Paul Flynn has called crachach 'a term of mild abuse'.