Voting Brexit Party for Welsh independence

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 June 2016 I explained why I was voting for Brexit in a post on this blog entitled, ‘EU Referendum: Why I Want OUT!‘ I followed it up after the referendum with ‘Brexit, Wexit: Things Can Only Get Better!’

I’m telling you this in the hope of proving that what follows is both intellectually and on all other levels consistent with what I wrote three years ago. Consistency being in short supply in Welsh politics at the moment.

AS I WAS SAYING . . .

I explained in June 2016, with the six points reproduced below, why I believed Brexit could result in Welsh independence.

  • We shall lose the EU hand-outs and these will not be replaced by Westminster.
  • Leaving the EU will result in economic meltdown.
  • The City of London will be replaced as Europe’s No 1 financial centre.
  • Brexit is fundamentally English nationalism.
  • Post Brexit the UK will experience the most repressive and anglocentric government ever known.
  • Scotland will probably become independent.

Since writing that I have also come to believe that the Brexit shambles, and the possibility of a hard border in Ireland, could well result in a reunified Ireland.

I concluded my pre-referendum piece in June 2016 with, ‘If you care about Wales, and if you want to see Wales survive and prosper as a nation in her own right, then you must vote to leave the European Union as the precondition for leaving the United Kingdom’.

I wrote that because I hoped for the debacle we see now, the confusion of political parties imploding and new ones appearing out of nowhere, with the emergence of an intolerant English nationalism that tries to shout everybody else down. I also wanted economic collapse. Does that make me irresponsible? Maybe, but only in the short term.

After the referendum Plaid Cymru’s leadership should have sat down, held hands, and engaged in an honest discussion in the hope of figuring out why so many Welsh people had gone against its recommendation and voted to leave the EU.

Had they done so they might have realised that many Welsh voters were pissed off with falling standards in health, education, housing and so many other fields; and they were relatively poorer than they’d been ten or twenty years earlier, with their concerns ignored by politicians they felt to be ‘distant’ and out of touch.

So they allowed themselves to be seduced and they took their frustrations out on the EU by voting for Brexit.

An honest inquiry like that should have made Plaid Cymru realise that many Welsh people were pissed off enough to vote for Brexit because devolution had failed them due to the ‘Welsh’ Labour Party being less than useless.

But when presented with the ever-open goal of England’s management team in Cardiff Bay Plaid Cymru always prefers to put the ball over the bar.

Wales voting for Brexit was as much due to Labour’s and Plaid Cymru’s inadequacies as it was to London’s neglect, proven by the situation in Scotland. There the SNP took Labour on in a no-holds-barred struggle – and won. With the result that since the SNP took control in 2007 things have visibly improved across the board for most Scots, and this influenced their vote in the EU referendum.

For by 2016 not only was Scotland doing much better than Wales by every measurable criterion, but the SNP had successfully convinced a majority of Scots that any problems affecting them could be attributed to London, not Brussels.

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Plaid Cymru’s failure to emulate the SNP’s success was due to the party spending almost two decades doing no more than a little light sparring with Labour prior to elections. The enemy was always ‘them wicked Tories, innit’, even when the Conservative Party was in opposition in Westminster!

A major reason Wales voted for Brexit in 2016 was Plaid Cymru’s failure to emulate the SNP. Worse, when not cwtching up to Labour the party was pushing a discredited ideology and obsessing over ‘niche issues’ rather than the everyday concerns of real Welsh people.

Plaid Cymru is now repeating past mistakes by linking up with groups like the Green Party that view Brexit, and Wales, through an Englandandwales prism. But it has no alternative because it failed to create a Welsh dimension for Brexit.

RED QUEEN TOPPLED, PAWNS FIGHT ON!

Since the overthrow of the Red Queen it appears that Plaid Cymru has, confusingly, moved further to the left! Not only that, but the party has reneged on its 2017 election promise to secure the best Brexit deal for Wales by recently coming out as a hard-line Remain party.

Both these trends were in evidence a week last Saturday at the All Under One Banner Cymru march in Cardiff. Not only was the event restricted to Plaid Cymru and its offshoots but there was as much if not more talk of socialism and EU membership than of Welsh independence.

One speaker, Sandra Clubb, of Undod – Plaid’s ‘independence-but-only-if-it-means-a-socialist-dystopia’ group – even called for a socialist feminist republic. I bet that would be jolly!

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Sandra Clubb is the wife of Gareth Clubb, Plaid Cymru’s CEO.

Consider this: Plaid Cymru was never able to shake off the perception that it’s a party for Welsh speakers. This belief limited the party’s appeal and cost it the votes of otherwise well-disposed, Welsh-identifying anglophones.

Rather than learning from this difficulty Plaid Cymru is now further limiting its appeal by saying, ‘We are the party of independence – but also a socialist party wanting EU membership’. Thereby alienating non-socialists and those none too keen on the EU . . . in a country where the majority voted for Brexit!

This self-destructive positioning can only happen when there is a monumental misjudgement of the public mood brought about by echo-chamber ‘debates’. Social media does indeed have a lot to answer for.

As for the undoubted increase in support for independence, this is due to the same anger as influenced the Brexit vote – but with three more years of it! And there are more who feel this way.

With growing numbers of people increasingly pissed off it’s inevitable that some will look with fresh eyes at Welsh independence. But this has little or nothing to do with anything Plaid Cymru has done.

Yet we see Plaid Cymru trying to ride this wave, and even control it, by presenting itself as the only party offering independence. Which explains why Ein Gwlad was not even informed of the Cardiff march, let alone invited to participate.

One obvious manifestation of this mood has been YesCymru.

A GOOD IDEA BEING SUBVERTED?

I was so glad to see the emergence and growth of this new movement, bringing many new faces into the independence tent by avoiding ideologies and having no links with any political party – as is the case with All Under One Banner in Scotland. But it couldn’t last.

That’s because despite having made little or no contribution Plaid Cymru still wants to both capitalise on and control the growing mood for radical political change within Wales. While also being the local franchise for a UK-wide anti-Brexit movement of the woke and the ‘progressive’.

My understanding of YesCymru is that it’s a loose collective of independent local groups. But to counter centrifugal tendencies it has a Central Committee, and a Constitution. Towards the end of last year, first at an Annual General Meeting, and then at an Emergency General Meeting, both were changed to personnel and rules more attuned to the thinking of Plaid Cymru’s leadership.

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To cover all the bases, in January, Plaid Cymru launched Undod, an outright socialist group, which as we’ve seen, is calling for a socialist feminist republic. Now some tell me I’m out of touch, so maybe there are tens of thousands marching for this feminist republic. If so, they have not marched past Château Jacques.

And although YesCymru maintains the pretence of being ‘a non-party political grassroots organisation’, this pretence is wearing a little thin. A couple of recent incidents will explain what I mean, in relation to both the EU and Plaid Cymru.

Last Wednesday, Nigel Farage visited Merthyr, and the local branch of YesCymru was out protesting. More than that, they blocked a road to stop people from attending the Brexit Party rally.

Then on Saturday, when Plaid Cymru was out leafleting in Chepstow, the local YesCymru crew turned up in support.

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We’ve seen (in the passage of the Constitution I linked to above) that YesCymru claims to be ‘non-party political’, but what does the Constitution say about the EU?

What it says is (my highlighting):

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That reference to ‘the wider European family’ could mean cousin Helmut in Düsseldorf, but I suspect it hints at something else.

If you’re going to write something as soppy and vacuous as what we see in the panel above then why not start with something along the lines of, ‘A new relationship based on mutual respect between the nations of these islands’ before moving on to Europe and the wider world?

Though in fairness, I must say that many YesCymru branches do remain ‘non-party political’, and also avoid the Brexit debate. Using a rule of thumb, the further a YesCymru branch is from the poisonous influences of Cardiff Bay the more likely it is to be true to YesCymru’s espoused principles of neutrality and focus on independence.

WAITING IN THE WINGS

As a student of history, I know that Welsh independence is more likely to emerge from political chaos and economic disaster than from the Tory party anchoring itself on the centre right, Farage’s new party imploding, ‘Welsh’ Labour and its third sector continuing to run Wales (down), the UK remaining in the EU, and Plaid Cymru . . . well, just being Plaid Cymru.

For these, or any combination of them, will keep Wales in the UK.

Which is why I have always believed that leaving the EU acrimoniously and using the resultant shitstorm to our advantage will be the best outcome for Wales in the long run. I say that because this election on Thursday isn’t really about the EU, or Brexit; it’s a preliminary skirmish for an impending conflict to determine who controls the UK.

In Scotland, the SNP is using the 2016 Remain vote to push for a second independence referendum that it might well win. Across the water, la revanche du berceau continues to undermine Unionist supremacy, with the possibility of more moderate non-Catholics preferring unification with a now secular and prosperous South to remaining in a poor, bigot-heavy statelet.

Quite possibly the Brexit Party will cobble together a manifesto and stand in the next general election – which might be called before the year is out – which means we might end up with a coalition of Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Nigel Farage.

Of course, such a troika will need to reach out beyond England, but it already has allies north of the border and in the Six Counties in the form of the Conservative and Unionist Party, the DUP, Orange Lodges, Glasgow Rangers fans and assorted Loyalist gangs.

And they’re already on the streets. Saturday saw a little sabre-rattling in Glasgow.

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There are dark forces waiting in the wings, using organisations and groups like those in the panel above. These shadowy elements are determined to gain power by one route or another. (And I’m not the only one who sees this.) Which is why nothing must distract us from the bigger picture and the best interests of our people.

Voting for the Brexit Party and encouraging their shadowy friends to show their hand is more likely to draw a response that results in Welsh independence than voting for Plaid Cymru in a meaningless election when the party’s long-term objective seems to be – wait for it! – a return to the status quo ante referendum!

Do you recall those halcyon days, boys and girls? When Wales was a land of milk and honey (or beer if you preferred); those talented and imaginative politicians in Cardiff Bay ruled wisely, making all corners of our land prosperous, and we all danced in the streets shouting, ‘Good old Carwyn, may he reign forever!’

Cos I must have missed it.

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CLARIFICATION: From the many comments received to my Facebook page it seems that some people think I actually support the Brexit Party. Let me explain . . .

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The Brexit Party and their shadowy friends are the means to an end. Socialists will understand this as ‘raising the revolutionary consciousness’ of the masses. Putting it bluntly, Dai Public is more likely to want independence after a kick in the nuts than yet another patronising pat on the head.

Call me cynical, call me an absolute bastard, but I’m a realist, and I know that just drifting along as we have done for 20 years – which is what Plaid Cymru wants – will get us nowhere.

It was neatly summed up in a letter in today’s Western Mail where someone concluded by saying that Brexit would result in “economic collapse and the breakup of the UK”.

Which is exactly what I’m saying. Short-term pain for long-term gain.

The left and Europe, Brexit, independence

I felt compelled to put finger to keyboard because I’m tired of hearing arguments for the EU but against the totality of Europe. The kind of people guilty of this are now taking an increased interest in Welsh independence.

To re-state my position – in June 2016 I voted to leave the EU. My reasons for doing so were set out in ‘EU Referendum: Why I Want Out!’ and a few days later, after the result was known, I followed up with ‘Brexit, Wexit: Things Can Only Get Better!’

What I hope to explain is that despite being a Brexiteer I regard myself as a European, and that’s because I see Wales as part of a wider European civilisation. This being so, Wales cannot leave Europe, we can only exit the European Union.

THE LEFT AND EUROPE

For me, there are two main variants of the left. On the one hand we have the hard left, or old left, some of whom may even be ‘tankies’, still mourning the demise of the USSR. Then we also have the soft or new left, who like to view themselves as ‘progressives’, but who I often view as the ‘butterfly’ left, flitting from one colourful issue to the next.

Another difference would be that, unattractive as it was, the old left, the Marxists and the Trotskyists had a coherent ideological basis in the writings of assorted philosophers and political theoreticians.

By comparison, the new left is almost without form or ideological substance, being made up of those who believe that what’s important to them, or the latest popular issue, is of vital importance to humanity (whether humanity is interested or not). Which often makes the soft left appear to be nothing more than a loose alliance of single-issue groups – ‘We’ll support you if you support us’.

The Labour Party contains both varieties, with the old left perhaps in the ascendant under Corbyn, but Plaid Cymru is very much home to the latter.

In the good old days of the Soviet Union the hard left had an example to hold up as an alternative to the Western model. An idyll exemplified for me by Peter Sellers’ shop steward in I’m All Right Jack, who dreams of Russia as, ” . . . all them corn fields and ballet in the evening.” A line that never fails to make me smile.

” . . . all them corn fields and ballet in the evening.” click to enlarge

The economic collapse of the USSR discredited the hard left’s alternative model, and opened the door to the soft left, with no obvious political agenda beyond changing the West from within through social and cultural pressure.

Even in the good old days of the Soviet Union, among elements of the left, hostility to the capitalist model spilled over into a rejection of the achievements of ‘decadent’ Europe and its offshoots.

As with the old, so with the new, which often dismisses centuries of human achievement as being all about ‘dead white men’.

Yes, these achievements often went hand in hand with colonisation, exploitation and even slavery, but millions of Europeans were also enslaved, by Turks and North Africans. How many today have heard of the Sack of Baltimore in west Cork? Communities from Cyprus to Iceland suffered from Muslim slave-raids.

The Crimea, the fate of which now so vexes Western governments, was taken by the Russians in 1774 to stop the peninsula being used by its Tatar population to export thousands of captured Russians and Ukrainians into Turkish slavery every year.

By even using the term ‘European civilisation’ I will have had a few leftists reaching for their smelling salts (or whatever they use), for it will have conjured up images of wicked capitalists, oppressors and colonialists, pith helmets and shackles.

Their chosen interpretation of Europe is as distorted as their view on almost everything else. It’s chiaroscuro without the light. In its distortions the touchy-feely left can ignore the genocide being practised by China against the Uighurs yet hold up something said by a politician of the right as a crime against humanity.

This comment (possibly to a piece on Nation.Cymru) refers to Steve Bannon. Now I accept that Bannon is not everybody’s cup of tea, but remarks like this display a myopic ignorance of history that is truly worrying. Click to enlarge.

For them, crimes can only be committed by white men. When it comes to global warming it’s rapacious white men destroying the planet, never developing economies with their coal-fired power stations, or third world countries destroying vast areas of forest every year.

This ‘blame Whitey’ approach betrays another dangerous failing of the soft left, and that is the refusal to accept that the past is another country, they did things differently there; which results in them judging people from previous eras by contemporary mores.

The fact that someone in 1887 was homophobic makes them a creature of their time, not a monster to be vilified by immature individuals who are easily outraged. I’ll let you in on a little secret – back in 1887 most people were homophobic.

To conclude: I’m proud to be a European. I reject the European Union.

THE LEFT AND BREXIT

The hard or old left has usually been hostile to the Common Market and then the European Union, the ‘Rich Man’s Club’ as Marxists were wont to call it. But the real reason for the hard left’s hostility was the same as my original enthusiasm – we both saw the EU as a bulwark against the Soviet bloc.

Three decades after the demise of the USSR the comrades of the hard left still have a lingering affection for Russia. The fact that Putin is viewed as a threat by the West goes some way to explaining the hard left’s ambivalence towards the EU, and Corbyn’s refusal to take a stand on a second referendum, or anything.

The other consideration for the hard left, and Jeremy Corbyn, is that Labour voters from Sunderland to Stoke to Swansea voted for Brexit. They also voted against out-of-touch elites, so Labour really can’t afford to be perceived as aligning with the metropolitan elite.

Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters need to hold on to their middle class support, their ethnic minority support, and their white working class support if they are to form a government. And the largest of those three constituencies remains the white working class in post-industrial areas.

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Generally speaking, the soft left wants the UK and Wales to remain in the European Union. This they regard as the only option for ‘progressives’. This is why we hear them berating Brexiteers as ‘gammons’, ‘racists’, ‘Nazis’, and calling for a ‘People’s Vote’.

The soft left can afford to be openly hostile to Brexit and those who support it partly because these ‘progressives’ are free of electoral concerns and partly because they have ‘disengaged’ themselves from the white working class they regard as irredeemably stupid and reactionary. For the reasons already given, Labour and the old left behave differently.

Whether or not they had achieved this status before the Brexit vote, the new left, the ‘progressives’, have certainly become the patronising metropolitan elite those who voted for Brexit wanted to punish.

I outlined earlier the soft left’s largely negative view of Europe and its history, culture, and contribution to humanity, so why is it supportive of the EU? I can only assume that in their minds there must be some disconnect between the Europe of the Borgias and Wagner with the European Union. For isn’t the European Union Napoleon’s (even Hitler’s) dream realised?

Apparently not.

And that’s because the soft left regards the EU as ‘progressive’. The EU is perceived as breaking down national barriers, welcoming migrants, and generally being a force for good in the world.

Which is fair enough, and entirely consistent with the soft left’s wider – dare I say, globalist? – outlook, but perhaps inconsistent with support for Welsh independence.

THE LEFT AND INDEPENDENCE

As I hoped when I voted for Brexit in 2016, the utter cock-up that politicians are making of the process has both increased the demand for Scottish independence and the likelihood of Irish reunification.

Wales has not been immune to this counter-London shift in public opinion, and now we see a marked increase in support for Welsh independence. This has taken a number of forms including the formation of Ein Gwlad, a new, Wales-focused nationalist party, and also YesCymru, a group campaigning for independence.

YesCymru now seems to have been joined by other groups. One being IndyCymru and, more recently, Undod, and it’s on the second of these I wish to focus. Undod is a socialist grouping, perhaps formed following a failed takeover of YesCymru.

I have no problem with Undod being socialist, as far as I’m concerned, the more the merrier, with just one proviso – the desire for independence must transcend all that divides us.

Which is why I was disappointed to read on Nation.Cymru the old-style sloganising about, “international solidarity . . . unfettered capitalism . . . foreign capital . . . rising threat of the far-right in Wales and beyond . . . excesses of Tory rule . . . “.

A disappointment compounded by seeing no reference to the Labour Party that has mis-managed Wales for two decades. Admittedly, in its conclusion, the article says, “Devolution has shown itself to be incapable of protecting us against the excesses of Tory rule”, without mentioning that devolution could have done more – as it has in Scotland in recent years – had it not been for the Labour Party.

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And the dismissal of “foreign capital” I find odd. Given the traditional neglect of Wales from London (whichever party was in power), and the cowardice and incompetence of the English Labour Party in Wales in its managing of devolution, had it not been for companies and capital from Germany, the USA, Japan, France and other countries investing in Wales we’d have been in an even worse mess.

I’m at a loss to understand how a socialist Wales, which I assume would be hostile to both indigenous entrepreneurialism and foreign investment plans to sustain us. Answers on a postcard, please. (But for God’s sake, don’t tell me it’s state-owned industries!)

Even so . . .

I have said it before, and I will repeat it here – I would accept a Welsh socialist republic if that was the route to independence. I say that because for me, independence is the priority, everything else can be worked out later.

Obviously I would not be happy in a socialist republic and I would seek to make changes, but after we had won our independence; and in the meantime I would defend that socialist republic against all external threats.

Finally, we must consider Catalonia. Over the past year or so I have noticed members of the soft left advocate independence for Wales, remaining in the EU, and support for an independent Catalonia. I’m unclear how such a position can be intellectually rationalised, but some obviously have no problem with it.

From where I stand, anyone belonging to a small European nation within the EU, and seeking independence for that nation, should have been disgusted both by the Spanish state’s treatment of Catalan political leaders and also by the EU’s silence.

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You can read here what the great Breton singer Alan Stivell recently said. I feel the same. (For those too young to remember, here he is singing Tri Martolod.) Like me, Stivell wants a Europe that respects all identities. Not a Europe that promotes homogenisation and tolerates or encourages state terror.

The new/soft/touchy-feely/butterfly/’progressive’ left is wrong about lots of things. Certainly wrong about Europe, and the European Union. Despite this unpromising start we can only hope that its approach to independence is more clear-headed, and sincere.

But I want to make this absolutely clear: anyone imposing ideological preconditions on the kind of Welsh independence they will accept is clearly more concerned with ideology than with Wales, and therefore does not truly believe in Welsh independence.

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