May 112015
 

What an incredible election it was, with the Scottish National Party winning 56 out of Scotland’s 59 seats! Without doubt the most amazing election I have watched unfold in some fifty years of following politics. Though partly because of that SNP landslide – plus the collapse of the Liberal Democrats and a swing to the Tories – we now have a Conservative and Unionist PPlaid Cymru 1arty government in London. But as the incoming government has only one MP in Scotland the SNP is already arguing it has no legitimacy to rule Scotland, so we appear to be heading for the constitutional crisis I predicted in my previous post.

Success for the national party was not replicated here in Wales, even with Plaid Cymru’s much more modest ambitions, for it hoped to hold on to its three seats (Arfon, Dwyfor Meirionnydd and Carmarthen East & Dinefwr) and gain anything up to three other seats (Llanelli, Ceredigion and Ynys Môn). In the event, everything stayed the same, and while Ynys Môn went to a recount the results in Llanelli and Ceredigion showed how unrealistic hopes in those areas were. This despite Plaid’s leader Leanne Wood getting more exposure on television, both in Wales and at UK level than any previous leader. But there’s nothing surprising in Plaid Cymru’s failure, for it’s a party that has worked itself into a position from which it just can’t win.

To begin with, Plaid Cymru has refused to challenge the strategy that is turning large parts of Wales into retirement and recreation areas for England – the strategy that (together with anti-Plaid tactical voting) has probably made Ceredigion now unwinnable at Westminster level – because to do so will bring down upon the party condemnation in the English (and ‘Welsh’) Plaid Cymru 2media. In the hope of justifying this wilful neglect of Welsh interests Plaid has to pretend that it can win the support of many of the immigrants, after all, they are now living in Wales so surely they want the best for Wales? No. They remain English, with some becoming more English after moving to Wales. And as Plaid’s candidate in Ceredigion told us, among them are out-and-out racists who see us Welsh as just another inferior people to be ridiculed and shouted at.

The corollary to this desperate desire to be liked (by people who are never going to like us anyway), is that Plaid Cymru has ignored the Welsh people in the areas being colonised. Plaid is now so concerned with avoiding any discussion of white flight, with not offending anyone except Ukip (work that out!), with getting pats on the head from Guardian readers, and with being courted by ‘progressive’ elements, within and without Wales, that it has abandoned it’s raison d’être of defending Welsh interests.

In our urban areas we see the managed decline of the Valleys and the region’s close-on one million people, now offered no better future than becoming dormitory communities for Cardiff. Yet despite a century of decline under Westminster rule, a century of Labour MPs, a century of Labour-controlled local authorities, and a Labour-controlled Notional Assembly for tPlaid Cymru 3he sixteen years of its existence, people in Blaenau Gwent still elected a Labour MP, and those who wanted an alternative to Labour found Ukip and the Tories more attractive than Plaid Cymru! It was the same in Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney, where Ukip got twice the Plaid vote!

Can we explain this vote for Ukip by the presence of predatory hordes of Poles and Romanians in the Heads of the Valleys taking all the jobs? Or is it attributable to the retired English middle classes, sipping their whisky and sodas up at Dowlais golf club while ranting against Johnny Foreigner? Face it, if Plaid Cymru cannot appeal to voters in areas where just about everyone is Welsh-identifying then where, outside of the shrinking redoubts of the Welsh language, does it have any chance?

This is an incredible and self-destructive position for any political party to have worked itself into. To take for granted your rural heartlands, that are being overrun before your eyes (and in the process, destroying Welsh as a community language) yet, paradoxically, still manage to be rejected by most voters outside those heartlands because they view you as a party oPlaid Cymru 4nly concerned with the Welsh language! This is a party with no future.

Something else we learnt from this election (and the EU election last year) is that the myth of ‘Socialist Wales’ is dead. Wales may have been ‘socialist’ when most of us worked in heavy industry, but this should now be seen as the passing phase it was, with our fathers as victims of circumstance motivated by self-interest rather than ideological socialists. And now ‘Socialist Wales’ is gone. The only socialists left belong to 57 fringe groups . . . and Plaid Cymru. The Labour Party is no longer socialist, so why is Plaid Cymru still flogging this long-expired equine? The clarion call of socialism was rejected by those who voted Labour, and rejected even more emphatically by those who voted Tory and Ukip.

Let us look at one result from last Thursday in an area with which I am familiar. Admittedly the Gower constituency contains Mumbles and the eponymous peninsula, which are relatively affluent areas, but the bulk of the seat’s population is to be found in former industrial suburbs to the west and north of Swansea, towns and villages such as Waunarlwydd, Gowerton, Penclawdd, Gorseinon, Clydach, Pontarddulais. I’ve worked in Waunarlwydd, Gowerton and Clydach; I have sunk many a pint in Penclawdd, Gorseinon and ‘Y Bont’. That these thoroughly Welsh communities would be represented by a Tory MP would have been unthinkable thirty years ago. But it’s happened, because the world has moved on . . . but not Plaid Cymru.Plaid Cymru 5

How do we explain this self-destructive streak? I believe that at the core of Plaid Cymru there is an influential grouping that has beguiled others into rejecting what it chooses to term ‘narrow nationalism’, and persuaded the party to pursue a more ‘inclusive’ and ‘progressive’ agenda. Am I wrong? Just ask yourself, why was doing a deal with the Greens such a major issue in the run-up to the election? I read more about that than I did of any hopes and ambitions Plaid has for Wales. But a confident national party shouldn’t have to worry about the votes of a few thousand lifestyle migrants and hippies, very few of whom would vote for Plaid even if there was a joint candidate in their constituency. (An unsettling truth we first learnt from Mel Witherden, the Green-Plaid candidate for Monmouth back in 1992.)

Clearly, what ‘narrow nationalism’ means is focusing on Welsh issues, something that gives Plaid Cymru nightmares after the kicking given to Ieuan Wyn Jones by Glenys Kinnock on Question Time some years ago over l’affaire Seimon Glyn, Gwilym ab Ioan et al. But Plaid Cymru only operates in Wales, so not to focus on specifically Welsh issues is perverse. Attempts then have to be made to disguise this bizarre strategy by desperately trying to put a ‘Welsh interpretation’ on issues or concerns that emanate from outside of Wales. Hugging Nicola Sturgeon and the Green woman is great television, being ‘anti-austerity’ is a good slogan, but at the end of the day it’s just idle posturing. Being ‘anti-austerity’ is attractive to Plaid because it’s a cross-border issue allowing it to line up with other ‘progressives’ while avoiding Welsh issues. (I hate that fucking word, and the smug, self-satisfied superiority it conveys. ‘Ooo, look at me, Plaid Question markI’m “progressive”, but you’re not’. Maybe those who find the word so attractive should be reminded that it was much-loved by Joe Stalin.)

If I’m wrong about these machinations then someone needs to explain how a political party whose raison d’être is Wales and Welshness consistently refuses to defend Welsh interests. I ask because it doesn’t matter how many Mike Parkers the party attracts the vast majority of English people in Wales – ‘progressive’ or not – are never, ever going to vote for Plaid Cymru. The party’s votes will only ever come from Welsh people, and until the party acknowledges this inescapable truth, and becomes brave enough to speak out for Welsh people, and to take the flak that an anti-colonialist programme will draw, then Plaid Cymru will remain as popular as a pork butcher in Jerusalem.

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63 Comments on "Election 2015: Plaid Cymru Fails, Again"

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dafis
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Failure to connect can be attributable to several factors but 4 big flaws stand out in my mind 1. The absence of a genuinely Welsh policy identity. As you correctly point out the “urge” to align with left of centre “thought”, however that is determined, leads to an inevitable morphing with UK orientated left leaning movements, thus lack of definition. While austerity is a real challenge, the persistent repetition of… Read more »
Brychan
Guest
It should be noted that the Plaid vote in Rhondda went from 8.9% to 27% and is now this seat is as ‘marginal’ for Plaid as Ceredigion in Westminster contests. You have to admit that the valley girls in this neck of the woods (pun intended) is doing something right. You are right to question what’s going on elsewhere, but one characteristic of the Rhondda campaign is it went hammer… Read more »
Daley Gleephart
Guest

Waunarlwydd is part of Swansea West Constituency. I wonder how many electors in Gower did not vote Labour this time because Liz Evans was selected from an All Women Shortlist?

Ap Dyfnallt
Guest
UKIP are popular because they’ve had 5 years of constant publicity from the UK (aka English|) media. A few weeks of limited exposure for Plaid in the run up to the election is not going to make a lot of difference – despite their claims to the contrary. As you say however Plaid seem to revel in their own delusional view of the world – recently well illustrated by Adam… Read more »
dafis
Guest
If the analysis shows things going well in any one constituency ( or better still several ) then Plaid “strategists” should be going through that to identify how much of that performance is repeatable elsewhere and how much is down to local factors. Then they can start to tune into what works where, but that factor mentioned by Brychan – not getting cosy with rivals, focussing on distinct positive attributes… Read more »
daniel gwyn
Guest
Anti-austerity is “idle posturing” ? Really ? Austerity is actually hurting many people in Wales. Their lives and their communities are deeply affected by these economically pointless cuts imposed on an economic and cultural basket case of a country by a small wealthy, utterly corrupt clique based in – and caring only- for a small part of another country. Despite 73% of the Welsh electorate voting otherwise, the English electorate… Read more »
Stan
Guest
Agree with the general thrust of Daniel’s post but would add a rider to his statement “Despite 73% of the Welsh electorate voting otherwise, the English electorate have determined that is what Wales gets for another five years”. It may surprise many but 84.2 % of the people that voted in Wales cast their vote for Parties that would have continued a policy of austerity in one form or another.… Read more »
daniel gwyn
Guest

I hope you are wrong Jac but if you are right, Plaid Cymru will have blown their last ever opportunity to be relevant.

Alun
Guest
The number of English colonists moving into Welsh speaking rural areas is a great concern for all those living there. They see their language and their culture continually being eroded and yet they have no voice. The don’t protest in fear of being called racists. No politician will dare stand up for their interests. They must surely feel helpless and abandoned and Plaid Cymru, the only party who could and… Read more »
The Earthshaker
Guest
It’s time for those who still believe (not me unfortunately as I’ve already stated) that Wales can be independent to move on from Plaid Cymru, Leanne Wood on twitter today is talking to representatives of female genital (FGM), a horrific criminal act and terrifying for victims which needs to be eradicated, but if that’s still where Leanne’s thinking is after the Election Plaid is screwed. Over the weekend, Adam Price… Read more »
Llantrisant
Guest
How about an end to pratling on about austerity and “Neoliberalism” from PC for a start. Austerity is absolutely necessesary when the UK is in trillions of debt and the public sector makes up 2/3 of the Welsh economy! Public spending does not lead to economic growth if it did we would be much richer than we are. Plaid seem to want us to live off handouts from Westminster to… Read more »
Brychan
Guest
May I state the bleedin obvious. Austerity affects Wales, Scotland and some parts of northern England. Austerity, by and large, hasn’t happened in London, the SE and the home counties of England. That’s why the map of southern England is blue and the Tories have a majority in the Westminster House. It’s also a reason why Ukip did so badly in the south of England because well off people are… Read more »
Daniel Gwyn
Guest

This might help put a different slant on the great austerity con for you Llantrisant:
http://www.theguardian.com/business/ng-interactive/2015/apr/29/the-austerity-delusion

Llantrisant
Guest

Oh please! Paul Krugman? He may have got the nobel prize but he is politically blind economist. There are far more who disagree with him then do I used to be on the left like him until I did a bit of reading around.

Anonymous
Guest

Nobel prize – tick.
Politically blind economist ( as opposed to using false economics to promote a warped political ideology)- tick.
So the problem with Krugman is.. er.. what exactly ?

Albert Hill
Guest
Disagree with Jac about the BBC. Their main concern is the license fee and the fact they’re get a better deal from Labour. Hence all the coverage of Farage who was expected to take votes from the Tories. A few months ago even the metropolitans realised that out in the sticks UKIP was picking up Labour votes hence the change. The Plaid vote in Rhondda didn’t rise from 8.9 to… Read more »
dafis
Guest
Less than a week since the GE passed and already the colonizing faction is back in full swing ( if it ever took a break ! ) with the Chair of some Tourism body having a moan that “Welsh gets in the way of tourism”. Well I suggest he pisses off back over Clawdd Offa cos there’s plenty of places in England that will welcome his jingoistic bullshit. Perhaps he… Read more »
dafis
Guest
Llantrisant While you are right to bring this article to our attention it too contrives to divert our focus away from some real issues in government and big business ( particularly global finance ). There is no escaping the truth that the bubble burst mainly because financial institutions went on a massive growth spree ultimately flogging paper to each other on an escalating “value” when in reality there was no… Read more »
Daley Gleephart
Guest
Are you referring to Daniel Gwyn’s post of 12 May 2015 at 09:05? The USA bank and insurance crisis been analysed by many but this is my favourite: – The Crises of Capitalism. Full lecture from David Harvey, professor, Graduate Center, City University of New York: https://www.thersa.org/discover/videos/event-videos/2010/04/the-crises-of-capitalism/ 31mins, 13secs on 26 April 2010 OR A short version with animation: https://www.thersa.org/discover/videos/rsa-animate/2010/06/rsa-animate—crisis-of-capitalism/ 11mins, 11secs Go back further and read about when the… Read more »
dafis
Guest
DG – You are correct it was Daniel G’s link that set me off although I felt that Llantrisant’s observations needed a response. Jac – you may indeed be right, but my view is that at present that Global network remains a work in progress, that they will not rest until they have tucked everybody up neatly with a further shift of assets into the coffers of global corporates and… Read more »
Big Gee
Admin
Thanks for the ‘mentsh’ & the link Jac! I’m as disheartened now as I was in 2002. Plaid have not moved an inch nearer to reality. As a result they have not moved an inch nearer power, in fact they’re on their backside & STILL can’t see the wood for the trees! Spineless AND clueless, not to mention two faced – they should be reported to someone for false representation… Read more »
Daniel Gwyn
Guest
Can’t disagree much with David Harvey’s analysis or Dafis’ comments. However the central points of Krugmans article are that the current austerity measures being inflicted on the poorest people in the poorest areas by the british establishment is actually bad for the economy and completely mis-timed. Wales (together with Scotland and the north of England) and its people is being targetted with this pointless austerity crap by a corrupt, venal… Read more »
dafis
Guest
Daniel G – You say that ….”central points of Krugmans article are that the current austerity measures being inflicted on the poorest people in the poorest areas by the british establishment is actually bad for the economy and completely mis-timed.” That conclusion may be true, spot on but to the lofty power brokers who only want to see things in terms of their collective self interest the effects on poorer… Read more »
David Llewellyn
Guest

All i heard from SNP was “Scotland First,” and “SNP can do it better!” (than Labour and Conservatives). Plaid Cymru’s voice was much more mutted, less engaging, great article. I thoroughly believe that the Welsh electoate is far more diverse ane in transition, that Wales is all socialist i have always believed is Shortsigted and nieve.

dafis
Guest
on the matter of global conspiracy which we touched on earlier in the context of austerity, I read today of a weeping sore created by that arch conspirator Blair when he was in his formative meddling years in the Balkans. He was a prime mover in the creation of Kosovo, a predominantly Islamic bandit territory which he ( waving UN flag ) carved out of the southern end of Serbia.… Read more »
dafis
Guest
alarm bells ringing today – more talk of “devolved powers” to city regions in Englandandwales subject to certain rules, conditions etc to be confirmed. One gets the feeling that there will be a big sham devolution of power on a “you run it, you fund it ” basis as a smoke screen for cutting cost burden on Treasury of public sector services & admin. However it will mosy likely mean… Read more »
Bill Chapman
Guest
Gosh, there’s a lot to comment on here, but I’ll leave Kosovo and Macedonia to another day. Sorry, Jac. I don’t see a constitutional crisis. The SNP and the Tory government will rub along nicely – as we’ve seen today. We will hear a lot about the Barnett formula and the West Lothian question for decades to come, and no doubt Scotland will gain increased powers over the decades to… Read more »
Cleddyf Arian
Guest
“You are wrong to suggest in your third paragraph, that English people in Wales will not favour Plaid Cymru.” The English as a whole will never support Welsh nationalism. The goal of Welsh nationalism is to knock them off their perch and to destroy English hegemony in Wales. We want to gain control of our institutions, to run the country in our interest. The English will be more than welcome… Read more »
E Jenkins
Guest
Best to consider all of Bill’s comments with the proverbial pinch o’ salt. For example, how about this winner our Labour hack came out with recently: This was the post on National Left: Bill Chapman26 April 2015 at 09:28 “I don’t see a referendum on Scottish independence on the cards for a generation or two. There is simply no enthusiasm for it. Don’t forget that the Yes vote did not… Read more »
Anonymous
Guest

You’re right about Plaid, they just haven’t moved on. You’d expect Leanne to have got more votes with her television exposure but it didn’t… if she mentions that bloody word “Austerity” again…..

Anyway, I stood in Islwyn for UKIP and came second, a great result for me personally and UKIP.

Joe Smyth
Guest

How’s that ?

Bill Chapman
Guest

Rev. Eli Jenkins (I assume it is you) quoted my prose (I’m almost flattered), but does not seem to disagree, There is simply no enthusiasm for independence for Scotland. It is not on the agenda, as numerous SMP MPs have told us. No doubt Scotland will ask for and receive extra powers, but independence is not being sought. Things could change in the future, but not in the foreseeable future.

E Jenkins
Guest
This was the cobblers I was referring to: “Indeed the SNP might very well serve as the training ground for the Labour MPs and MSPs of the future.” You personify the hubris of the Labour Party. “There is simply no enthusiasm for independence for Scotland.” Well, just last year 45% voted for it. Since when does 45% constitute 0% ? “Not in the foreseeable future” I will be amazed if… Read more »
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