My Apologies To ‘Welsh’ Labour . . . Well, Sort Of

(What I argue in this post in no way invalidates my assertion that Wales is, in reality, run by civil servants answering to London; a sitution that reduces ‘Welsh’ Government spokespersons to mere mouthpieces. In this post I am dealing with perceptions, and for the vast majority of people in Wales the country is ‘run’ by the Labour Party government in Cardiff.)

 

In a piece I posted on February 18th, Polls and Donkeys, and in other posts, I may have given the impression that I view the Labour Party in Wales as a bunch of unprincipled, self-serving, dim-witted and traitorous self-abusers. This is still my view. However, in the post referred to I should perhaps have expanded my interpretations of the opinion poll that formed the basis of that post, as I subsequently did in answer to certain comments.Labour Performance

What the poll told us, among other things, was that despite the abysmal performance of the Labour Party its vote in Wales is holding firm. Looking at the approval ratings we see from the table that the highest rating was 41%, this from Labour supporters who believe the ‘Welsh’ Government is doing a good job with the economy. (I kid you not!)

Yet when we consider voting intentions, in the rather colourful table below, we find that support for Labour is little changed from earlier contests. In any normal society this would be regarded as very odd, even perverse; perhaps an indication of endemic or congenital masochism within the population. A condition possibly resulting from centuries of being kicked around and exploited. Yet while history may play a part in shaping attitudes in twenty-first century Wales there’s a much simpler explanation. For too many Labour supporters there is no credible or attractive alternative to Labour.

Now, clearly, the Tories are never going to be that alternative. Perhaps because there has never been a coherent and recognisably Welsh Tory voice; by which I mean a patriotically Welsh, but Unionist, position prepared to argue Wales’ corner. I had hoped we might be moving towards such a party, but the recent split over income tax, and the Uriah Heap-like behaviour of David Jones tells me that the Conservative and Unionist Party in Wales still contains a majority of politicians wanting a party that represents the interests of England, and the English within Wales; often done by promoting the view that our best interests are served by ‘smoothing out’ all differences with England, done for our own good of course, because whatever makes us different is just ‘ugly, intolerant nationalism’ – ach y fi!

Then there are the Liberal Democrats, UKIP, Greens, BNP, Monster Raving Loony Party and other, even more outlandish groups, unlikely to ever over-work ballot-counters and Returning Officers. Which leaves only Plaid Cymru. For despite the fact that Labour’s ‘Donkey’ voters belong to the most deracinated and, um . . . ‘uninformed’ (that the word?) elements of the nation, there still resides within most of them a spark of Welshness. This spark flickers into life for sporting events, and on those occasions when someone reminds them they’re just a ‘Welsh bastard’, but not when Plaid Cymru comes knocking. Telling us that Plaid Cymru, Voting Intentionsa ‘national’ party, is failing on the most basic level.

Partly because being a Labour Party Mk 2 will make no headway with Labour supporters. They will ask themselves why they should vote for the imitation when they can vote for the real thing. Equally pointless is pathetically struggling to win the approval of Guardianistas and the scroungers and shysters of the poverty celebration industry. Also worth remembering is that for every Mike Parker there are a dozen or more English in Wales who resent being reminded they are even in Wales. (To verify that, just pop in to your local golf club.) What I’m trying to say is that the only hope for Wales, and the only possible threat to the Labour Party, lies in Plaid Cymru appealling to the ‘Donkey’ voters on a different level. Which will have to mean Plaid reasserting itself as a Welsh party, rather than continuing to posture as some kind of lefty Brit regionalist party.

To achieve this will mean standing up for the Welsh, rather than for the cop-out of ‘Wales’. Because if you restrict yourself to ‘Wales’, and divorce it from Welsh nationhood, then you are left with nothing but a geographical expression, or an empty shell. It then becomes possible to argue – as with tourism – that something is ‘good for Wales’ while working against the interests of Welsh people and Welsh nationhood. Plaid has to face the reality that distancing the party from perceptions of ‘nationalism’ has paid no electoral dividend. Plaid Cymru must re-unite with the Welsh nation, all of the nation. Demand that Welsh people, those with roots in this country, have priority claim in employment, social housing, training, grants – everything ‘Wales’ has to offer.

Plaid must no longer avoid the inescapable truth that its existing and potential electorate is almost entirely restricted to those who regard themselves as Welsh. So unashamedly target this electorate, speak up in its defence, demand measures that specifically benefit Welsh people. Done effectively this will allow the party to take votes directly from Labour, which will obviously damage Labour far more than by taking votes from other parties. There is no other way for Plaid Cymru to become the major political force in Wales other than by attacking Labour head-on. (As the SNP has so successfully done in Scotland.) Given that the two parties are so close ideologically, the only hope of victory lies in appealing to people’s innate Welshness.

If Plaid Cymru is unwilling to change direction, to speak in defence of Welsh people, then it has no purpose, and no future. By refusing to fulfil its obvious role it guarantees its continued impotence and takes up space that could or should be filled by a genuinely Welsh party . . . while also gifting the Labour Party – and England – unchallenged hegemony over our homeland.

22 thoughts on “My Apologies To ‘Welsh’ Labour . . . Well, Sort Of

  1. The odd thing is that whilst I am in fact an Englishman living in Wales, I would rather vote Plaid Cymru than any other party. This is not because I regard myself as “Welsh”, but because it seems to me that Plaid is the only party that actually cares about what goes on in Wales.

    1. Jac

      Given the state of the other parties, and the quality of their candidates, I can understand your decision. That said, in a situation like Wales no self-styled national party has a chance without an appeal to the heart backed up with demands that the indigenous population be better treated.

  2. anonentity

    Comparing the UKIP support at the Euro and UK election is interesting. Also the others which I take to be split between Greens and BNP. Obviously quite a lot of the drop-off in the UKIP vote is Labour voters returning to the fold for the UK election. We know that a proportion of Labour voters will opt for UKIP anyway because of their vote in a valley seats in the last Euro election. In a lot of valley seats the combined BNP + UKIp vote was actually higher than that for Plaid.

    So a good number of traditional Labour voters are prepared to turn out for UKIP in Euro elections and no doubt there a fair number who are tempted but decide to stay-at-home. It’s easy to sneer at these people but they are the soft underbelly of Labour, they are looking for a radical alternative to the LabConLib consensus and obviously see Plaid as just another party of the status quo.

    Of course the biggest source of potential voters for a Welsh party are the stay-at-homes. I was watching the re-run of the Feb 1974 Election result programme on the Parliament channel recently – I know I’m sad – and what struck me were the huge turnouts High 80%s and even in the most run-down inner city seats 70%s. Nowadays so many people just stay at home and who can blame them.

    What you are saying is absolutely right. Campaigning on the issues you identify on your blog will upset the great and the good who currently pat Plaid on the head as good little boys who trot out the received PC wisdom on every issue. It will upset the English dominated civil service and trades unions nad all those nice people in the third sector. Until the BBC and the London press start hating Plaid Cymru we’ll know they’re getting it wrong. We need a party that gives a voice to the ordinary Welsh people.

    1. Jac

      Good points. I should also have mentioned the disillusioned. But most of these are disgruntled Labour voters.

    2. El

      “In a lot of valley seats the combined BNP + UKIp vote was actually higher than that for Plaid.”

      I’ve worked with a few BNP voters from across the Valleys. Most of them were Welsh nationalists at heart but saw Plaid as a strictly Welsh-speaking, pro-Islam, pro-immigration party. Mainstream Welsh nationalism has turned its back on these people and pushed them into the arms of the English far-right.

    3. Daley Gleephart

      You need to take into account the d’Hondt system of allocating seats in EU elections.
      Whichever Party has the most votes on 22 May gets the first seat and that Party’s total vote is divided by 2 for the second seat. So, in order to get the 2nd seat the Party of the highest number of votes has to get more than twice as many votes as the next highest.
      If a different Party gets the 2nd seat, their vote is divided by 2.
      If the Party with the highest number of votes gets another seat, their total vote is divided by 3.

      In the latter part of 2013, UKIP demonstrated again that they aren’t looking out for the UK’s interests when it comes to the EU budget by voting against budget changes which will save the UK £352 million. This is just another instance of UKIP voting against British interests. They have a lazy attitude to the European Parliament, they don’t understand the key issues that affect people across the UK and they seem determined to mislead the public on European issues.
      Vote UKIP – It’s like asking someone to vandalise your home.

      Find out the latest lies and misinformation peddled by Britain’s rags here: http://ec.europa.eu/unitedkingdom/blog/index_en.htm

  3. Llantrisant

    Plaid Cymru are essentialy a more “Welsh” version of Labour in Wales I mean ideologically is there but a cigarette paper between them? Under their thick marxist leader they espouse even more of the socialism that has failed Wales for a century, don’t they realise they will never get anywhere but trying to outflank Labour on the left?

    1. Jac

      I agree entirely. In Wales socialism is little more than making a virtue out of poverty. Capitalising on it electorally. Then building up a massive Third Sector to exist, leech-like, on this poverty, paid for out of funding allocated to relieve the poverty not capitalise on it!

  4. Louise Hughes

    Interesting article, particularly your comment about a “genuinely Welsh party”, but I wonder if you’ve ever experienced the ‘sliding scale of Welshness’ I find myself judged against by certain more, shall we say zealous, of my countrymen/women? Let me explain – my mother is first language Welsh born and bred in Tywyn (then Towyn) Meirionnydd so I go up the scale, I was born in Germany so I go down a bit, my husband is a shepherd from Llanuwchllyn who is the essence of all things Welsh so I go up again, but I don’t speak fluent Welsh (eto!) so down I go again …… all very tiresome. I have deep family roots in mid Wales and consider myself to be a true patriot of our beautiful country. Is it really acceptable to say someone is not Welsh enough if they don’t speak the language? As a passionate supporter of our Wales rugby team I’ve met thousands of like minded fans from South Wales who would rip your arm off if you said they’re not Welsh because they don’t speak Welsh and remember that the leader of Plaid Cymru is herself a learner. Is there an accepted benchmark to achieve ‘genuine’ Welshness? Cymru am Byth! (My apologies for veering off the subject a bit).

    1. Jac

      Louise, you are Welsh. Full stop. What I am talking about here is a system that will avoid the kind of situation of which you apprised me the last time we spoke. I’m referring to the housing association property eyed by a number of locals, but allocated to people from Birmingham with no local connections.

      Cases like that are being reported all over Wales. What I’m advocating is a system in which they can never again arise. A system that says: ‘This country belongs to the Welsh, they have first whack at everything’. Anything else is just a form of colonialism.

  5. Anonymous

    If Plaid did as you suggested and insisted on “those with roots in this country, have priority claim in employment, social housing, training, grants – everything ‘Wales’ has to offer” surely you can see that other nationalities living in Wales (not just English people) would leave and go somewhere where they would be treated fairly …. I wonder how many doctors, nurses, engineers etc etc would just up and go? Don’t you think this country would be poorer as a result? Also, if England and other countries did the same to Welsh people and denied them jobs based on their nationality rather than performance or qualifications …. need I go on? Can’t you see just how silly and racist this is?

    1. Jac

      This is the usual, silly argument trotted out which, basically, says – ‘You Welsh can’t do anything for yourselves’. It’s the, ‘Without us . . .’ argument. Yet it exposes the colonialist system I consistently attack. A system that denies opportunities, training, funding, to the indigenous population.

      Your argument is always used in such situations, and always turns out to be alarmist. For example, how are the Irish managing without English people telling them what to do – have they had another Famine? Or the Indians? We’re already hearing it in the run-up to the Scottish referendum. No one denies that Scotland has oil and gas in the North Sea, but they need “the broad shoulders” of England to make the most of those assets! What absolute, self-serving bollocks! Just look over the sea, and see how well the Norwegians – with the biggest sovereign investment fund on earth – managed without anybody elses’s “broad shoulders”.

      What you are saying, in essence, is that we Welsh are too stupid to do things for ourselves. That is really racist! Get back down the golf club.

  6. Docks Soul

    As you say Plaid are little more than a soft, regional socialist party, hamstrung by political correctness trying far too hard to be all things to all voters in Wales.
    Has there ever been a more ineffectual leader of a National Party than Leanne Wood?
    It’s easy to forget she even exists.

    It would appear that Plaid’s ambition doesn’t extend any further than being Labours bitches in the Assembly.

  7. Llew

    Since 1999 Plaid Cymru has treated to around 18-20% of the vote. But this is still a higher level than Plaid ever got before devolution. They also tend to get higher vote for Westminster now than they did before devolution. It isn’t great but pretty much correlates with how weak Wales is as a whole and how we were annexed.

    Fighting Labour “head on” has happened. It’s happened with mixed results in Carmarthen, Gwynedd, Llanelli, Valleys, bits of Cardiff. The outcome often depends on whether Labour has pissed people off at Westminster or not.

    It’s a mistake for people to use Plaid to take out their frustrations about “political correctness”, regionalism or Leanne Wood. If Plaid was not socialist and not politically correct it would shrivel, in Gwynedd or in Cardiff or anywhere. We are in the 21st century and if you want power you need to be international, ethnically diverse and represent the make up of your society. It is absolutely right for Plaid to be left of centre (as it was before I was born). The lack of other Welsh nationalisms leads to people attacking Plaid’s character because they don’t have a political voice of their own.

    1. El

      “We are in the 21st century and if you want power you need to be international, ethnically diverse and represent the make up of your society”

      Do you honestly believe that areas with an English majority will vote for Welsh independence? I’ve got news for you butt, it ain’t gonna happen!

      I’d go as far as to say that most Welsh-identifying people are sick of English immigration (including many people who aren’t exactly nationalists). If Plaid promised to enact pro-Welsh/anti-English policies their media and number of votes would go through the roof.

  8. Reading this post it’s obvious that many Welsh nationalists are far from happy with Plaid Cymru’s performance over the years. I understand your frustration with the situation we nationalists find ourselves in, blog’s are good for letting off steam but these repeated rants has to stop. We are wasting our energy on each other by just blogging away, we must put our passion for building a better Cymru into doing something more practical and positive.

    Become active by joining Plaid Glyndwr, a new Welsh nationalist party that is, unlike Plaid Cymru, extremely comfortable with exposing the negative effects of colonialism in Cymru. Agreed it is an unpolished item but then most new political parties are, with the help of some of you old nationalist stalwarts this matter can be solved.

    Plaid Glyndwr maybe crude in its infancy but it is without question true to the Welsh nationalist cause and will attempt to create a party that Cymru so desperately needs. We can do this more efficiently and rapidly with your help.

    Welsh nationalist volunteers please form a queue and join here at plaidglyndwr.com
    Diolch!

  9. Robert

    I’m from Newport. Worked out the best way was independence 30 years ago. Plaid member since I was 17. I can understand the frustrations (trust me) but simple demographic change make it impossible to start again from scratch. (Time is against us). Plaid is the only way to engage our people with the idea of independence, while our people are still in the majority.

  10. Llantrisant

    To convince people that Wales can be independent we need firstly to have economic prosperity here in Wales, the political class that runs Wales have no idea how do this. Labour’s policy is to fatten up the public sector and burn money on “anti-poverty initiatives” in the third sector which in 15 years have shown no sign of reducing poverty, indeed I have long been convinced that the two aforementioned policies only exist to create a clint state of Labour voters and keep them in power in perpetuity. Plaid Cymru’s hard left quasi-marxist turn under Leanne Wood would probably make things worse especially their ludicrous obsession the idea of some new green jobs industrial revolution in valleys, they also oppose any efforts to correct the public sector private sector imbalance in Wales indeed they don’t think it’s a problem so they are out. The Lib Dems have no radical ideas and to be honest does anyone know what they stand for? Ironically the only people who understand they way to bring economic growth through pro business polices to Wales are the Tories! But this is cancelled out by the fact they are the most unionist of the four main parties in. So what do we vote for?

    1. Jac

      Wales will never see “economic prosperity”, and you give the reason why. Therefore the message has to be that Wales will never see prosperity until we are independent.

  11. Llew

    I’ve always said independence can only be done based on appealing to people who vote here. It’s not politically possible to change Wales’ demographics from the Welsh level. You’d have to have internal controls on the movement of people inside the UK which would include controls on the Welsh.

    I know why people want Plaid to “talk about it” more but I don’t want them to. I don’t see the point. A lot of people that say they want Plaid to do certain things don’t like Plaid and slag it off.

    other stuff is possible like having education in Welsh only and housing for local needs. Focussing on that is the way forward.

    Plaid isn’t ever going to win over folk on this blog but this isn’t the demographic they need to appeal to to be honest.

  12. Hmm, seemingly this is a haven for the almost swivel-eyed lunatics, but not quite. I agree that Plaid misses far too many opportunities at going for Labour’s jugular, which is made all the worse because it is such an easy target! Almost any positive, practical and credible suggestion from Plaid would be a huge improvement on what we are currently being offered by the present Tory apologist administration in Cardiff Bay. However, for my money Plaid isn’t anything like radical enough, and I suspect that the wall of silence coming from Plaid has a mot to do with appeasement of their own right-wing. Leanne Wood is sort of left-of-Labour, but hardly a Marxist… but then the American equivalent of most who comment on here would probably also consider Barack Obama as a fully paid up Communist!

    This is not to deny the very real failings of Labour rule in Wales, despite all the extra EU funding, Wales is still one of the poorest regions in Europe, mainly due to the bureaucratic way in which that funding was used. Much of the cash was spent on the actual bureaucracy, with relatively little ‘filtering down’ to where is could have done some good, and when it was spent on local initiatives, they tended to be short term projects that failed to achieve any long term economic good – a few trees planted and a few benches set out may add some badly needed amenities in run down communities, but they will not solve the long term chronic economic ailments facing most of Wales.

    But, the small-minded native capitalist alternatives seemingly in favour by many commenting here would be an even bigger disaster for the ordinary working people of Wales – and I know, having years ago been an exploited worker of a Welsh owned capitalist enterprise where corners were cut and regulations ignored in order to reduce costs and maximise profits at the expense, not only of poor pay that was often underpaid, but also in terms of Health & Safety breaches and poor working conditions – it hardly matters if you’re being exploited by a multinational corporation or the local Welsh crypto-fascist down the road, you’re still being exploited. Furthermore, I doubt that the pygmy-brained ‘Wales for the Welsh’ (whoever they are?) nationalists would actually be able to come up with a viable economic plan for Wales, let alone have a snowball’s chance in hell of attracting the required investment.

    If Wales is to have a chance of a future then there does need to be a sea change in attitudes, and a recognition that the people of Wales have to create that future themselves and that it will require a reevaluation of what it means to be Welsh. About the only people in Wales I would actually exclude would be, ironically, those who express about the Welsh similar views to those that many on here seem to express about the English. Imperialism is never pretty, especially the tit-for-tat variety of bargain basement blogs like this.

    Independence is not a sinecure for economic prosperity, but might, just might allow ordinary Welsh people to take control of things for themselves and not some greedy capitalist oligarchy. But independence isn’t required for that to happen either, and the sooner we move forward to a sane society run in the interests of that society itself and not some elite clique, either socialist or capitalist the better. And even better if it means without government at all.

    1. Jac

      Mmmm, quite an outpouring, with which I must take issue. Though to start with, we seem to be in general – very general – agreement about Plaid Cymru and Labour. That said . . .

      ” . . . it hardly matters if you’re being exploited by a multinational corporation or the local Welsh crypto-fascist down the road, you’re still being exploited.” Hyperbole, sir. For what possible objection could you – or indeed anyone! – have to being exploited by your local Welsh crypto-fascist?

      “Furthermore, I doubt that the pygmy-brained ‘Wales for the Welsh’ (whoever they are?) nationalists would actually be able to come up with a viable economic plan for Wales, let alone have a snowball’s chance in hell of attracting the required investment.” You will find no “pygmy-brained” insularists here. No one argues for ‘Wales (exclusively) for the Welsh’, but we do oppose the Wales we see developing around us which, if unchecked, will be a Wales without the Welsh. You come across as a Leftist lover of all humanity, so isn’t “pygmy-brained” insulting to those of reduced stature? Even racist towards a recognised ethno-cultural or racial group?

      ” . . . bargain basement blogs like this”!!!! Scoundrel! Provide your address so that my seconds may call on you.

      And finally, all is revealed – ” . . . without government at all”. After slagging off just about everybody for being ineffectual, loony-tunes, or God knows what else, you confess to being an anarchist.

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