Wales, the unmourned death of devolution

PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR

In this post I’m going to look at the latest YouGov for ITV/Cardiff University poll. There’s a clue to where we’re going in the title of this piece.

Obviously I’ll focus on devolution, so it makes sense to remind ourselves why we have devolution. Younger readers especially should stick with it because they might learn something.

Then I shall move on to consider what we do now that devolution has come to the end of the line.

INNOVATION DESIGNED TO MAINTAIN THE STATUS QUO

Devolution did not come about following a period of political upheaval or unrest, there was no ‘Nation on the March’. Devolution was thrust upon Wales because it served the interests of the Labour Party. Later, even the Conservatives could see benefits in maintaining a management team in Cardiff docks.

To understand the genesis of devolution we need to go back to the Conservative and Unionist Party led by Margaret Thatcher coming to power in May 1979. Under her leadership the party was re-elected in 1983 and again in 1987. Even after she was deposed in November 1990 the party went on to win the 1992 general election led by John Major.

Major’s victory was a surprise to most people, including many Conservatives. But none were as shocked as the Labour Party – who can forget Labour leader Neil Kinnock’s triumphalism at the now famous Sheffield rally.

Mr and Mrs Kinnock were compensated for this and other embarrassments, first by being shunted off to Brussels (where he served as Commissioner and she as MEP), and more recently to the House of Lords. But they remain committed to the struggle against privilege and inequality.

The old socialist tactic of ‘fighting the system from within’. ‘Well, all right!’ Click to enlarge

Each year of Tory rule made devolution more attractive to the Labour Party’s hierarchy . . . based of course on the assumption that a Scottish Parliament and a Welsh Assembly would always have Labour majorities.

The thinking was that devolution would give Labour two redoubts when not in power at Westminster. With many also believing that devolution would defeat the nationalists in both countries. George Robertson, Labour’s Defence Secretary and NATO General Secretary, believed back then that devolution, ‘will kill nationalism stone dead.

How wrong he was, certainly about his native Scotland.

The point to remember here is that devolution was introduced by the Labour Party to serve the interests of the Labour Party. What might be best for Scotland and Wales did not enter into Labour’s thinking.

When the Tories came back to power in Westminster in 2010 they were faced with two very different situations in Scotland and Wales.

The SNP had been in government in Scotland since 2007 and any attempt to remove powers from Holyrood, or do away with devolution entirely, could have made a mildly annoying situation a lot more difficult. Whereas in Wales there was a coalition between Labour and Plaid Cymru, which meant that Wales was ‘secure’, she could be ignored.

THE POLL

The results that were released a week or so ago covered a wide range of questions. Most attention has focused on two findings; the percentage wanting independence and the percentage wanting to do away with devolution altogether. Here are the full findings.

The figures quoted tend to vary so I’ll go with this WalesOnline piece by Ruth Molaski. And that’s where the figures below come from.

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Though the figure in favour of independence is claimed to reach 27% when don’t knows are omitted and other adjustments made. Applying the same refinements it’s claimed that 33% would vote to abolish the Assembly were they given the chance in a referendum.

As Wrecsam Plaid Cymru councillor Carrie Harper says in this Nation.Cymru piece these figures point to “a polarisation of views amongst Welsh voters”. Which I suppose it does, at first sight. But looking at them from another angle what appear to be polar opposites do in fact agree – they reject devolution.

Due to many factors, including Brexit.

I’ve argued – from the time I voted for Brexit – that a difficult and damaging Brexit, resulting in Scotland leaving the UK and Ireland reuniting, will force on Wales the choice between being trapped in Englandandwales and considering independence.

In fact, that was one of the reasons that I voted for Brexit.

Given the impact events in Scotland could have on Wales I was surprised by the way the question below was framed in the poll.

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Surely, it should have tried to establish whether Scotland becoming independent would make Welsh people more likely to support the independence option? So why the obtuse question about positive or negative – are we talking about batteries?

As it’s worded, I would obviously answer ‘very positive’. Whereas a BritNat would answer ‘very negative’. But we would be saying the same thing in that we agree Scottish independence will increase the chances of Welsh independence. But the findings, as they’re displayed, don’t show that.

Why wasn’t the question better worded?

A SYSTEM NOT DESIGNED TO DELIVER NOT DELIVERING

In her article Carrie Harper says that there is a feeling in the north east that ‘Cardiff doesn’t care’. I can tell her that this sentiment is not restricted to her home patch – it’s the same in Swansea, the Valleys, Gwynedd, Pembrokeshire, Powys.

In economic terms devolution has failed every part of Wales but Cardiff.

And yet, we keep electing Assembly Members to represent us who promise the earth, then they go down to Cardiff . . . and perpetuate this Cardiff-centric system. They betray us every time, no matter where we live and no matter which party we vote for.

One reason Cardiff’s done well out of devolution is because it’s used as a ‘showcase’. Visiting dignitaries, politicians, entertainers, rugby and football fans, etc, go no further than Cardiff. They see the investment, the cranes on the skyline and think, ‘Oh! devolution must be working for Wales’.

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Using Cardiff as a showcase city, to give a false impression of prosperity and progress, is symptomatic of a more general problem with the ‘Welsh Government’, that of show over substance. At it’s worst, it’s virtue signalling. But it’s not confined to the Labour Party.

Looking at the self-styled ‘progressive’ parties – Labour, Plaid Cymru, Lib Dems – I see parties playing to a gallery made up of a tiny minority within Wales and a much bigger audience outside of Wales with which that minority identifies.

What I mean is, giving a vote to the toe-rag doing time for robbing your Nan might get favourable column inches in the Guardian but Dai Public doesn’t support it and it does sod all to improve his life.

The ‘Welsh Government’ has declared a climate emergency. Of course it won’t make any difference on a global scale, not when Japan is planning to build 22 coal-burning power stations, and China many more. It’s not even as if the ‘Welsh Government’ takes its own declaration seriously, because if it did it would organise a functioning system of public transport, and it wouldn’t be funding Aston Martin to come here to make cars with gas-guzzling V12 engines.

But Aston Martin is more likely to go bust than it is to set up in Wales. It will join a long, long list of failed investments, money wasted, by politicians who know nothing about business and are terrified of Wales having a successful indigenous economy because it would lose them votes and give the natives the wrong ideas.

So we are served up empty rhetoric and futile gestures.

Not only do the ‘progressive’ parties ignore the interests of Welsh people but very often they introduce ‘Ooh look at us – aren’t we virtuous’ legislation that actually works against the interests of Wales.

For example, people entering care homes in Wales can keep £50,000 before they have to start paying for their care. The figure for England is £22,500. This is one reason that Wales sees an influx of retirees and elderly people from England adding to the burden on our NHS. Our ‘progressives’ would like to do away entirely with care home charges.

Money to fund this generosity must come from other budgets; which helps explain why our infrastructure is so poor, why our kids don’t get the education they deserve.

But now the ‘Welsh Government’ wants to punish us even more by introducing a tax to help fund care for the elderly and disabled . . . many of whom have been attracted to Wales by the £50,000 limit, free prescriptions and other gestures.

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Abolishing care home fees will result in an epidemic of granny dumping, they’ll be queuing at the border. It will be a disaster because the ‘progressives’ will not introduce a residency qualification to stop the system being abused. That would be ‘discriminatory’. (Truth is, they’re terrified of headlines in the Sun and the Daily Mail reading ‘Welsh bastards discriminate against our brave grannies . . . Dunkirk . . . Vera Lynn . . . )

And to expose how damaging devolution is, the Conservatives and the Brexit Party would support this economic insanity because they rely on the Invasion of the Wrinklies (PG) to provide much of their support.

You have to conclude that any administration planning to introduce a tax on a poor people to subsidise richer people moving to their country must hold the electorate of that poor country in utter contempt.

Another reason Wales is poor and badly run is because of the power of the third sector. Here in Wales – uniquely – the third sector has a role in government. The Wales Council for Voluntary Action, which serves as the umbrella body for the third sector, and operates almost as a department of the ‘Welsh Government’, is quite open about its role.

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This is why Wales has the biggest third sector on Earth, filled with leeching luvvies pulling down huge salaries to ‘combat’ problems they’ll never solve because it would put them out of a job; and to ensure they have enough ‘clients’ they import many of them from England.

The third sector coupled with Wales’ colonial relationship with England explains why the towns of the north coast have the biggest drugs rehabilitation industry in the known world.

Thanks to organisations such as Cais Ltd, based in Llandudno, which owns a number of properties, and is funded to the tune of £2.9m a year by the Wales European Funding Office . . . then there’s £1.6m from the NHS, £1.7m from local authorities, and a few million from other sources.

The Cais entry on the Charity Commission website says under the Documents tab that this company operates in ‘Wales And The Marches’. But the map found under the Operations tab tells the truth.

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Money given to Wales by the EU to raise standards is being used to further lower standards by importing drug addicts, alcoholics, criminals and God knows what else from north west England.

The driving principle of devolution seems to be using Wales for the benefit of just about everybody but the Welsh.

That’s why we have wind turbines that don’t turn, and hydro schemes that locals aren’t allowed to know anything about‘Saving the planet, innit’.

‘Rural initiatives’ mean tasteless and culturally damaging tourism developments, zip wires and the like. Or else it’s turfing Welsh farmers off their ancestral land at the behest of George Monbiot and his cohorts with the Summit to Sea scam aka ‘Lebensraum for Guardian readers’.

The ‘Welsh Government’ pushes through housing developments that Wales doesn’t need, funds housing associations many of which prefer not to have Welsh tenants, and does nothing while Welsh communities die when every property that comes up for sale is bought as a holiday or retirement home.

Wales is being turned into a retirement and recreation area for England, a dumping ground for England’s problems, and the pot of gold at rainbow’s end for every crook and shyster looking to make easy money.

But nothing is ever done for the Welsh.

Our politicians are insulated from the system they oversee by hiding away in Cardiff Bay, a world unto itself, hermetically sealed from reality. Where truth is whatever the third sector or the lobbyists decide best serves their interests.

An ugly place where reputations can be destroyed. And men. A cess-pit of corruption and treachery Wales can no longer afford.

AT THE CROSSROADS

There is nothing to be said in favour of devolution. After twenty years it should be obvious to all that it has failed the Welsh nation on every conceivable level. Yes, I talk of a nation; because without it there is no Wales.

Of course the Labour Party is largely to blame, but things would be no better with Plaid Cymru in control. If anything, things would be worse; for not only is Plaid Cymru further to the left than Labour, it has also been infiltrated by ‘woke’ lunatics.

Wales needs new political parties, fresh faces, and a whole new approach to running this country. No more virtue signalling, no more niche politics, no more identity politics, no more pretending that caving in to hedge funds is ‘saving the planet’, and no more ‘influence’ from the third sector.

What I’ve always said about devolution is now the accepted view of a majority of Welsh people, as the poll showed. The only question is which course we take from here. There are only two real options.

As I’ve already said, after Scottish independence and Irish reunification we can either submit to Englandandwales or else we go for independence. Devolution is dead. Nobody killed it, nobody needed to kill it, it destroyed itself.

Few will mourn its passing.

Time to get our people thinking about independence, and to do that we must have political parties grounded in the real world, in Welsh communities, determined to serve those communities and this nation of communities. These new parties must be ready to contest the 2021 Assembly elections.

And the more the merrier. Because with four or five Unionist parties run from London, and Plaid Cymru having such a narrow appeal, independence was impossible to achieve. Let’s broaden the appeal and shift the focus of debate away from London and the UK so that independence becomes the issue in Wales as it is in Scotland.

From now on Welsh politics must be about Wales, and the Welsh people. Let’s offer our people a real choice. No more, ‘What Unionist party should I vote for?’ but instead, ‘Which of the independence parties shall I choose?’

Spread the word! Devolution is dead! It’s time to move on!

♦ end ♦

 

Time to Show Appreciation of International Relationships

BY A GUEST WRITER

There are a few countries around the world with which Wales has long-standing and profound cultural, political and social ties.  The other Celtic countries, of course.  The United States, where, famously, 16 of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were of Welsh descent — with particularly strong Welsh connections with Pennsylvania (aka “New Wales”) and Ohio.  However, one of the most celebrated and enduring international relationships is with Argentina.

Welsh Settlement in Argentina

When Michael D. Jones sought to establish a settlement for Welsh people free from the cultural repression and bigotry of the British state, it was the Argentine government that he approached for permission to locate Y Wladfa in Patagonia as a new country, a “little Wales beyond Wales”, where Welsh would be the language of religion, government, trade and education.  And so it was that 153 Welsh settlers arrived in Patagonia aboard the Mimosa, a converted tea-clipper, in a bay which they named “Porth Madryn”.

The context to this remarkable venture was the hostility of the British state to the language and culture of the Welsh people which had reached new heights in the mid-Victorian era.  The official denigration and suppression of the Welsh language was legitimized and fuelled by the reports issued by the three English commissioners appointed by the Westminster parliament to head an “Inquiry into the State of Education in Wales”.  Their Reports infamously declaimed:-

“The Welsh language is a vast drawback to Wales, and a manifold barrier to the moral progress and commercial prosperity of the people.  It is not easy to over-estimate its evil effects …” (Read more.)

eisteddfod_y_wladfa_1942
Eisteddfod y Wladfa 1942 (click to enlarge)

In Argentina, however, the Welsh settlers were welcomed, and the Welsh-Argentine community continues to this day centred on the towns of Gaiman, Trelew and Trevelin, where there are today at least 5000 Welsh speakers.

“Every Bloody Cause”

The long association between Wales and Argentina experienced tragedy in 1982 during the conflict in the South Atlantic.

Many Welsh-Argentines from Patagonia were conscripted into the Argentine forces occupying and defending the Falklands/Malvinas.  One such Welshman, Milton Rhys, was sent as a young conscript as part of the Argentinian garrison to be a radio operator on the Falklands-Malvinas.  Señor Rhys has given a poignant account of his experiences during the period of Argentine rule and the subsequent British invasion.  Milton Rhys is the great-grandson of William Casnodyn Rhys, a Baptist pastor and Welsh patriot who emigrated to Patagonia from Port Talbot in the 1870s.

milton-rhys-flying-the-flag-in-patagonia
Milton Rhys flying the flag in Patagonia

Of course, Welshmen fought on both sides of the conflict in the South Atlantic.  Thirty-two Welsh soldiers of the British army’s “Welsh Guards” regiment were killed or severely wounded at Bluff Cove, with many suffering terrible burns, after they were left on board the ill-fated Sir Galahad logistics vessel for many hours awaiting orders to disembark – in a display of gross incompetence by the British military high command.

In these experiences on both sides of that senseless conflict, Alun Rees’s lines come to mind . . .

“Now Taffy is a fighter
when he hears the bugle call.
Name any war since Agincourt:
Taffy’s seen them all.

He’s fought the wide world over,
he’s given blood and bone.
He’s fought for every bloody cause
except his bloody own.”

Competing Legal Claims to the Falklands-Malvinas

The conflict in the South Atlantic arose out of a long-standing dispute over sovereignty of the Falklands/Malvinas Islands between the British and Argentine states.  Here is a brief synopsis of the competing claims.

Argentine Claims

It is accepted by both Argentina and Britain that first country with a good legal claim to the Falklands/Malvinas was in fact France, which established the first colony there in 1764 and gave the islands their original name after the port of St. Malo – Les Îles Malouines (subsequently rendered into Spanish as the Islas Malvinas).

The French subsequently agreed to transfer her claims to the Falklands/Malvinas to the Spanish. The Argentine claim that they acquired those rights from Spain in 1810 according to a principle of international law known as uti possidetis juris (basically, principle of international law which provides that newly formed sovereign states should have the same borders that their preceding dependent area had before their independence).

The Argentine claims were not effectively challenged by Britain until a British naval squadron arrived in 1833 and caused the submission of the resident Argentine garrison under threat of force.

On repeated occasions since the British invasion of the Falklands-Malvinas in 1833, the Argentine government has restated its claims.

In due course, the status of the Falklands/Malvinas was recognized as a territory to be decolonized under United Nations General Assembly Resolution 1514 of 14 December 1960, titled “Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples”.

Furthermore, earlier this year, the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS), sided with Argentina accepting their maritime claims and fixing the limit of their territory at 200 to 350 miles from their coast – so awarding the seas surrounding the Falklands/Malvinas to Argentina.

south-american-archipelago

Although widely denigrated or misrepresented by the British government and much of the British media, the Argentine claims to the Falklands/Malvinas have considerable substance in law.

British Claims

In a nutshell, the validity of the British claims to the Falklands/Malvinas rests on two questions:-

  1. Was a plaque left by the British when they abandoned a brief settlement on the Islands in 1774 sufficient to entitle the British to re-assert a claim 60 years later (in 1833) and eject the existing Argentine settlement by threat of force?
  2. Had France’s claims, which pre-dated any of the British claims, which France had transferred to Spain, and which Argentina had assumed on its independence, been extinguished by 1833?

To any objective observer, the basis of the British legal claims to the Falklands/Malvinas is decidedly shaky.  When this was realised, the British government decided to switch the basis of their argument to one based on “self-determination”.

The self-determination argument has more than a touch of the Ealing Comedy “Passport to Pimlico” about it.  How can a community of less than 3000 – smaller than Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen – and utterly reliant for all practical purposes on the umbilical cord with Britain, the colonial power, some 8700 miles away, assert a sovereign right of self-determination for its inhabitants?  The Islanders are, of course, a transplanted population of British character and nationality.  To attribute sovereign rights of self-determination to this tiny group of people is as ludicrous as astronauts claiming sovereignty over the moon.

Just as the British government and media persistently downplay and distort the basis of the Argentine claims to the Falklands/Malvinas, so too do they brush under the carpet the fundamental weaknesses in the basis of the claims of the British state to the islands.

Pragmatism and Self-Interest

Ultimately, the Falklands/Malvinas sovereignty issue is not going to find its resolution in legal arguments over fine points of international law, since the arguments of both Argentina and Britain have been amply aired and found to be riddled with weaknesses.  The time has therefore surely come for both states to consider rationally and pragmatically what the right result should be.  For example:

  • Which country is best placed to administer these islands?  Britain at a distance of 8700 miles or Argentina some 300 miles away.
  • Could the British state put the vast sums spent defending and artificially sustaining the tiny settler population to better use?
  • At a time of increased international tensions and security threats, should the British state be distorting its strategic defence priorities to defend the Falklands/Malvinas colony?
  • Can the British state continue to rely in the 21st century, and post-Brexit, on political and military support from the US, EU and any countries in South America to maintain its occupation of the Falklands/Malvinas colony?
  • Following the Brexit vote, and the pressing priority for the British state to establish and upgrade trading relationships beyond the EU, should the British government be perpetuating trivial colonial conflicts at the expense of valuable trading relationships with the emerging economies of South America?

The Future Role of Welsh Politicians

Given our unique, long-standing and treasured relationships with the Argentine government and people, isn’t it time that we in Wales stood up to the British state and voiced our opposition to the intransigent and counter-productive stance of successive governments on this issue?

Four years ago, the Argentine government reached out to senior members of Plaid Cymru to enlist their support for moves to resolve this dispute.  These approaches were apparently rebuffed by Plaid at that time.

Isn’t it now time for a rethink on this – especially following the election of the pragmatic President Mauricio Macri in Argentina?

END

Jac says . . . Not long after the conflict in the South Atlantic I got to meet a few of the surviving guardsmen. One of them, from my part of Swansea, was here to marry a local girl. And of course his mates turned up for the wedding.

People still talk about the first time these survivors of the Sir Galahad heard the low-flying RAF jets come down our valley. Regulars in a Welsh village pub saw Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder at first hand.

sir-galahad-at-bluff-cove
The Sir Galahad was moored in Bluff Cove, with Welsh Guards aboard, inviting the attack from Argentine aircraft that inevitably came.

I’m not sure how many of them are still alive. The bridegroom from Manselton died in 1995, and this sad entry tells us that in 2010 his grave still had no headstone.

That’s the personal, the human, aspect of this tragedy. The wider picture can only be appreciated if we by-pass the British media, for the truth is that England stands almost completely isolated, virtually no one supports her claim to the Malvinas.

The claim is founded upon imperialist aggression and sustained by a combination of lies and yet more aggression, with contempt for international law and UN Resolutions thrown in. The excuse used is self-determination, ‘the people of the islands wish to remain British’.

You might as well ask the denizens of the Shankill Road if they support a united Ireland. Or go to a meeting of the Abbasock Holiday Home Owners Association with a petition demanding that Gwynedd doubles council tax on second homes.

Finally, let us not forget that throughout that conflict in defence of democracy and freedom – so memorably dismissed by the great Jorge Luis Borges as ‘two bald men fighting over a comb’ – Britain relied heavily on intelligence and other support from Chile. A country then controlled by Margaret Thatcher’s great friend General Pinochet, a man with firm views on democracy.

~ ♦ ~

Why I Detest The ‘Welsh’ Labour Party

1/ FOR DENYING US OUR HISTORY

In the nineteenth century, whether or not they had the vote, the overwhelming majority of Welsh people supported the Liberal Party. This loyalty went with them as they migrated from the rural areas to the new industrial communities of the south and the north east. Support for the Liberals might even be seen as one of the ‘pillars’ of Welsh identity, along with the Welsh language and the nonconformist chapels.

But of course our industrial areas also attracted workers from outside of Wales, especially towards the end of the nineteenth century when, as historian Gwyn Alf Williams memorably put it, the ‘human reservoir’ of rural Wales began to run dry of surplus manpower. These immigrants either found the established Welsh identity uninviting (especially if they were Catholic), or else they rejected it, for with their homeland then approaching its imperial zenith many English would have dismissed Welsh identity as inferior or ‘backward’.

Rejection of Welsh identity became a cornerstone to the growth in Wales of the Labour Party. From the outset, Labour in Wales was a non-Welsh party, in direct competition with the party most Welsh people supported. The report accessed by this link and the passage I hGower 1908ave extracted from it (below, click to enlarge) gives a good indication of the Welsh / non-Welsh split in the Swansea area in 1908. It is written by Kenneth O. Morgan the Labour historian and propagandist.

Politics was not the only area of division. Despite now being the beneficiaries of an English education system more Welsh children in 1914 knew of Glyndŵr and Twm Siôn Cati than know of them today. That’s because these and others were the heroes and legends of their people, part of a cultural inheritance that was still being orally transmitted. Because this was alien to the non-Welsh something new was needed; and so, not for the first time, or the last, we find socialists re-writing history.

In this new version, Wales before the Industrial Revolution was nothing more than a region of primitive pastoralists and exploitive landowners with, in still earlier times, warlords and feudalists making a nuisance of themselves. Depriving a nation of its history is of course an old imperialist ploy; not surprising then that few wish to remember how the Labour Party in Wales adopted the same tactic. One that was still being employed until quite recently.

With pre-industrial Wales now dismissed it only remained to re-interpret more recent history. Episodes and movements such the Scotch Cattle, Chartists, the Merthyr Rising, all needed to be integrated into the new schema. We were asked to view these as forerunners of the Labour Party of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Glossing over the fact that hanged Dic Penderyn spoke no English and that the Gwent Chartists who marched to their deaths in Newport called for a ‘Silurian Republic’! (This reference to the ancient Silures being a perfect example of the knowledge of history I mentioned.)

With the writing on the wall many more Welsh eventually went over to Labour. A party formed in opposition to Welshness and all its expressions now justified rejection of Welsh identity as being for our own good because, for example, speaking Welsh was ‘holding us back’. (From what, exactly, was never satisfactorily explained.)

2/ FOR DENYING WALES AN INDIGENOUS ECONOMY

Well into the twentieth century there was a political grouping called ‘Liberal-Labour’; the most famous representative of which in Wales was probably William Abraham, better known by his bardic name of ‘Mabon’, Liberal MP for the Rhondda from 1885 to 1910, the year he joined the Labour Party (four years after its founding). Despite the name, this was no combination of Liberalism and the new Labour Party; it was Liberal politicians supported by trade unions, labour not Labour.

During this era the industrial south developed its own trade unions often dealing with Welsh companies and major Welsh capitalists such as David Davies, David Thomas (Viscount Rhondda), the Dillwyn Llewellyns and others. Many of these employers and most union representatives would have been Liberals, nonconformists, and Welsh David Daviesspeakers. Making it possible to argue that by the second half of the nineteenth century Wales had developed a largely indigenous economy. Yes, it depended on England and the empire to a great extent for its markets, but it was still more identifiably and distinctively Welsh than anything we have seen since. Labour was to change all that.

Labour, with its centralising tendencies and its hostility to Welsh particularisms had little truck with anything that wasn’t big and ‘national’. Welsh companies and Welsh unions were all swept away in pursuit of size and ‘unity’. (Always an important slogan for Labour, ‘unity’.) Predictable that a new party hoping one day to become the government of the UK should want its affiliated unions to be UK-wide, but in the process Welsh workers became no more than cannon fodder in a bigger struggle, used and abused by people who didn’t give a toss about them or their country.

Having encouraged the demise or the takeover of so many Welsh enterprises it was important to ensure that no new ones sprang up to replace them. So ‘Welsh’ Labour kept a tight rein on its flock and its wider patch, discouraging entrepreneurial spirit by defaming those who displayed such errant behaviour as ‘enemies of the people’. All of which served to make Wales an undefended target for English business, a captive market for English-produced goods. The perfect colony; achieved not through military conquest ordered by a bunch of toffs in a far-off land, but by local socialists who viewed native initiative as a betrayal of socialist principles. All done in defence of the centralist, English-dominated State.  

Had it not been for Labour Wales would have developed a healthy local economy along the lines of Catalunya or Scotland, looking after her own interests rather than being shackled with what we have today – an economy almost totally integrated with that of England, and in which Welsh interests are always subordinated to those of England.

3/ FOR MAINTAINING ENGLISH COLONIALISM IN WALES

Subordinating Welsh interests to those of England was justified by arguing that organising on a ‘national’ level with UK-wide trade unions, gave workers ‘more clout’. This made sense, up to a point, especially in the post-war period when so many major industries were nationalised; coal mining in 1947, road transport (British Road Services) in 1948, with other industries in the years following, including of course steel and tinplate, which saw the Steel Company of Wales (a very dangerous example) subsumed into British Steel. Few in the Labour Party considered that Welsh interests might be better served by some less centralised system. But as Bob Dylan put it, the times they were a-changing.

Labour reluctantly organised a devolution referendum in 1979 in response to the rise of various forms of Welsh consciousness over the previous twenty years. Due in no small part to most ‘Welsh’ Labour members and supporters opposing devolution the referendum was lost. It finally took more than a decade of Margaret Thatcher to make Labour realise the benefits of devolution . . . for Labour, that is, not for Wales. Control of a Welsh parliament being seen as a consolation prize for losing power in Westminster. What was best for Wales didn’t come into Labour’s thinking. And so – despite another Labour rearguard action led by those champions of the people, Lords Kinnock and Tonypandy – the devolution referendum of 1997 was won, just.

But devolution is a sham. Wales today is run by faceless civil servants answering to London and Labour’s cronies in the Third Sector, financed with misappropriated EU funding; ‘(Wales)’ is inserted in the title of English laws and passed off as legislation originating in the Notional Assembly; Welsh students are paid to leave the country, their places taken by English students; but perhaps worse, is ‘Welsh’ Labour’s consistent refusal to legislate for the benefit of Wales and then defending this by arguing that to promote Welsh interests would be a concession to ‘narrow-minded nationalism’. (By which argument, every independent country on earth pursues ‘narrow-minded nationalism’, including of course the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.) Here are a couple of examples.South Shropshire

The first concerns the current First Minister, Carwyn Jones. Ten years ago he was Planning and Countryside Minister, and was asked by local authorities to consider introducing planning rules to favour local people then being excluded by the booming housing market; in fact, the example he was asked to copy was working just over the border in South Shropshire. He refused, saying that it would pose “legal problems”. So we were asked to believe that legislation already working in England could not be implemented in Wales! Obviously the interests of English holiday home owners and colonists had to take precedence, for helping the less wealthy get a home would bWatere making concessions to ‘narrow-minded nationalism’.

The second example concerns one of our greatest natural resources, water. During the premiership of Tony Blair, the Government of Wales Act (2006) was passed. Section 114 (1) (see panel, click to enlarge) makes it absolutely clear that should a Welsh Government make any moves to get a fair return for the water England takes from Wales then the UK government will intervene. This law was passed by a Labour government in London, agreed to by a Labour government in Cardiff, and the Secretary of State for Wales at the time was Peter Hain, MP for Neath. This is how ‘Welsh’ Labour serves Welsh interests – Welsh consumers paying more than English consumers for water from the same Welsh sources.

4/ FOR BEING WHAT THEY ARE

Looking at it from the other side, as it were, the Labour Party in the UK always did a great job of defusing discontent and preserving the existing order. In many respects the UK Labour Party was the best friend the capitalist and imperialist system ever had. It ensured that Britain was always spared the upheavals seen on the continent and elsewhere. Which makes Tony Blair not so much an aberration, or a betrayal of what had gone before, more the inevitable outcome.

From the perspective of the English Establishment it never really mattered whether the dominant political force in Wales was the Liberal Party, the Labour Party, the Conservative Party or the Aberdare Anarchist Collective. All that ever mattered was that that dominant political force maintained the colonial relationship between Wales and England and allowed no change in that relationship other than the most cosmetic.

Which explains why, after a century of Labour dominance, Wales (and especially those areas where Labour has been most dominant) is today the poorest country in Western Europe, possibly the whole of Europe. While Ukip may fear an influx of Roumans and Bulgars many Welsh would be better off heading in the opposite direction . . . if they had any skills to offer. Few do. Because our education system is now on a par with that of Burkina-Faso and our health service is the envy of . . . well, no one, actually. Though I’m sure the horse-drawn ambulances will soon become a tourist attraction.

Our rural areas are nothing more than retirement and recreation areas for the English. In many parts of Wales the Welsh are now in a minority. Every attempt is made to kill off the Welsh language and destroy all vestiges of Welsh identity other than the most frivolous or touristy. Few of our people can afford to buy the homes being built in our countryside and are then denied social housing in favour of English people who have never set foot in Wales. Soon  the term ‘Wales’ will have lost all meaning, and then the assimilation into England will be complete. Welcome to Tibet, UK!

Today, stripped of ideology and purpose, plus the industries and trade unions that sustained it, the principled and visionary movement that scrambled to dominance over the fallen bodies of Liberalism and nonconformism is just a freak show of dilettantes and chancers; people for whom the party is a stage, or else a means to promote their real interest, whatever that might be. While its diminishing band of followers vote Labour much as people support a very poor football team – with blind, unquestioning loyalty but no enthusiasm. While the Labour machine just goes through the motions of politics for no better reason than stopping somebody else occupying county hall, winning Cwmscwt North, or ‘running’ the Assembly.

Labour rose to pre-eminence in a country with a burgeoning economy and a prosperous and confident people; now, after a century of Labour hegemony, we are a broken and impoverished nation on the point of ceasing to exist. This is Labour’s legacy to Wales. ‘Welsh’ Labour has failed on every conceivable level. No-one should question why I detest this gang of back-stabbing, bipedal vermin.

UPDATE 27.03.2016: Here’s an interesting essay that throws further light on the emergence of the English & Irish Labour Party in Wales.

Margaret Thatcher: A Personal View

Before settling down to write this piece – in what was probably a futile attempt to whet appetites – I tweeted that, “Thatcher and the Left needed each other like two drunks”, by which I meant that each used the other for support, even justification. Maybe exhausted heavyweight boxers would have been a better analogy; and if I’d used that, then it would allow me to say that socialism is down and out while Thatcherism is still standing, triumphant.

Let us cast our minds back to pre-Thatcher times. Those on the Left too young to remember seem to view this period as when the Left was powerful and we lived in a more ‘caring’ society. Bollocks! The UK was alternately ‘governed’ (I use the term very loosely) by a Conservative Party that had lost its way and an equally enervated Labour Party in hock to trade unions. The trade unions of the ‘closed shop‘ and the political levy whose power Mrs Thatcher curbed . . . and for which most people – including trade union members – were grateful. I was a union member myself, I attended meetings, and more than once I saw how ‘a dedicated few’ could take control. Resulting in trade unions pursuing political agendas subversive of democracy rather than serving the interests of their members. With trade union bosses being celebrities in their own right and big-time political players. To the stage where I used to get really pissed off with hearing some little git with a Napoleon complex mouthing off on TV and threatening to bring down a democratically elected government.

So Mrs Thatcher helped free the Labour Party and the population at large from the trade unions, but the rest of her legacy is rather more mixed in lasting value. Because if New Labour was a thoroughbred foal then its parentage would be ‘By Bilderberg out of Maggie’. For Mrs Thatcher is undoubtedly responsible for New Labour; the worst bunch of sociopaths and emotionally crippled control freaks I have known in my lifetime. That anyone could ever have believed in and trusted Blair, Mandelson and the other con men remains one of the great mysteries of modern politics. Just remind yourself of those excruciating soirees at No 10, where Tony and Cherie would try to play JFK and Jackie to assorted luvvies and ‘celebs’ . . . remember them? Just writing about it still causes me to shudder.

For her own party Mrs Thatcher was also a mixed blessing. She may have rescued the Conservatives from Ted Heath, she may have given them eighteen years of government, but she also took the party away from the grandees to make it more welcoming to the ‘aspirational’; with a less charitable interpretation being that the Conservative Party became more materialistic, abandoning the one-nation Toryism of the past and repopulating the party with the spivs and the swivel-eyed who helped gain it the soubriquet of ‘the nasty party’.

Since her death I have read so much myopic condemnation, much of it from stand-ups and spads (whose opinions I value so highly). One criticism is that many of the council properties sold to their tenants under the Right to Buy scheme are now owned by major property companies. Which may be true, but overlooks the fact that Labour had thirteen years in power to do something about that. It did nothing. Perhaps the greatest proof of her influence over New Labour is that she is still being attacked from the Left for policies and legislation that New Labour in power never thought of reversing. Or maybe it tells us that the terms ‘Labour’ and ‘the Left’ are now forever divorced. If true, then that is some achievement for the grocer’s daughter.

Other criticisms may be more justified. While I could not oppose privatising utilities on ideological grounds, replacing a State-owned monopoly with an unregulated cartel of private companies, diverting profits to major shareholders, rather than using them to improve infrastructure and reduce consumers’ bills, is no improvement at all; certainly not for the consumer, in whose name the privatisation was carried through. Furthermore, once Mrs Thatcher got the taste for privatisation it went too far. The break-up of the railway network was a disaster in more ways than one. Not only did it give us a confusing system of competing companies and separate infrastructure, it also made a mockery of privatisation by having to be regularly baled out with taxpayers’ money.

Even so, she was a towering political figure because she broke with the past and she shaped the future. Britain in 1990 was as different to Britain in 1980 as Britain in 1980 was to Britain in 1930. Britain in 2013 is still Thatcher’s creation. And in the absence of total economic meltdown leading to a collapse of social order, everyone knows there’s no going back. Of course she had help along the way; because when you can count among your opponents Callaghan, Foot, Galtieri, Kinnock, Scargill and others, then you know you were born under a lucky star. I suspect there were times when even she couldn’t believe her luck, looking at the incompetent and inadequate men she had ranged against her. With enemies like these, who needs friends?

Seeing as this is a Welsh nationalist blog I suppose I am expected to ask what Margaret Thatcher did to, or for, Wales? The answer is, not a lot. Wales may have suffered as a result of her policies, but I don’t think she was in any way anti-Welsh. I don’t think she singled us out, in the way she did the Irish and the Scots, for special treatment. If you want to find the anti-Welsh, the quislings and the traitors, it’s best to look in the Labour Party.

Yet Welsh Leftists, faux socialists and others, still use Margaret Thatcher to frighten Welsh electors – or at least, the more gullible, who vote for what they believe are socialist parties – into believing that the only defence against Thatcherism is to vote Labour, or Plaid Cymru, even Liberal Democrat. But even if Welsh Labour was a socialist party determined to roll back ‘Thatcherism’, it would be futile for Welsh people to vote Labour in Wales because the UK Labour Party is Thatcherite. Consequently, the only way Wales can truly defend itself from ‘Thatcherism’ is through independence, which of course ‘Welsh’ Labour opposes.

Margaret Thatcher’s influence on Wales may have been substantial but it was tangential and unintentional. By comparison, Labour’s damaging influence is direct and deliberate, year in year out. Who undermined the devolution referendum in 1979 – Margaret Thatcher or Neil Kinnock, George Thomas and the rest of the Labour gang? Who has been responsible for squandering the EU and other funding that has come to Wales since 2000 – Margaret Thatcher or the Labour Party and its cronies in the Third Sector? Who fought against holding the 2011 referendum on greater powers for the Assembly – Margaret Thatcher or Peter Hain and others in ‘Welsh’ Labour? For a century, the real enemy of Wales, and the biggest threat to Welsh nationhood, has been the Labour Party, which is always looking for somebody else to blame. Don’t you be deflected or distracted from the truth. Because until enough of us grasp that truth there is no hope for Wales.