Ukip Uniting Wales?

Last Saturday night, whilst yet again sacrificing my sobriety for the Argentine economy – a very nice Viñalba Patagonia Sauvignon-Merlot – I rummaged through the various images and tables I’ve compiled over the years and came across one I decided was worth putting out again, on Twitter. It was very well received. (Possibly because I can’t be sure I’ve ever used it before.)

In fact, it took wings. At the time of posting it’s up to 7,444 Impressions, 1,230 Total engagements, 720 Media engagements, etc., etc. Must be one of the most popular tweets I’ve put out. Anyway, those who missed it can see it below (click to enlarge). It takes various statistics from the 2011 Census and locates them on a map of the 22 local authorities.

Where born, identification, language by LA

Some of the feedback I got tried to link the large numbers of English people resident in certain areas with the increase in support for Ukip. In fact, this seems to be a common explanation for the rise of Ukip in Wales, used by nationalists and even those of a more British orientation. In this interpretation, Ukip is another form of English nationalism, just a bit less virulent and less openly racist than the British National Party.

Yet I knew this couldn’t be true because of the support for Ukip in the Valleys, at both the May 2014 European elections and the 2015 UK general election. But even so I thought it might be worth going back to the 2011 Census to compile a table showing the various factors that might prove / disprove this theory, or otherwise explain what’s happening.

Before unveiling the new table you can remind yourselves of the 2014 Euro election results with the table below that I produced at the time (click to enlarge), the results of the 2015 UK general election are here, and an analysis can be found in my review of that contest here.

Euro votes 2014

The statistics I’ve used to compile the new table are, first, the different labels people chose to use when identifying themselves in terms of nationality; then, whether born in Wales or England, and finally, the Ukip vote in the 2014 Euro elections.

It had to be done this way because the Census stats are given by local authority area, with the Euro vote available by the same divisions. The 2015 UK general election results were of course given by constituency, and while most constituencies can be grouped within local government boundaries there are some that straddle council borders, one being Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire, which makes aligning constituencies with council areas very difficult.

Even so, the pattern is consistent. Those areas that gave support to Ukip in 2014 also gave support in 2015, though at roughly half the 2014 level in percentage terms, 13.6% against 27.6%. (Also worth bearing in mind is that the turnout for the Euros was 32% and for the 2015 general election 65%.) This was entirely predictable, more noteworthy, and a better guide to the increasing level of support, was that the Ukip vote went up from 2.4% in the 2010 general election to 13.6% in 2015.

As I started collecting the figures and adding them to the new table, it soon became apparent that there isn’t a single answer to explain the rise of Ukip in Wales – there are two!

First, and as I suggested above, in the Valleys authorities, with their small percentages of English residents, most Ukip support must come from people who identified in the 2011 Census as ‘Welsh Only’. (The same can be said to some extent of the cities.) Which might be seen as holing below the waterline the idea that Ukip is nothing more than an English nationalist party, or at least suggesting that other factors are at work in the urban areas of the south.

Birth, identification Ukip

Yet the more rural areas do tend to support the ‘English nationalist’ interpretation, especially in the north. Travelling along the coast from west to east we see that Ukip topped the polls in 2014 in Conwy (with 30.2%), Denbighshire (27.0%), and Flintshire (32.7%). Given the makeup of the population in this region it is entirely reasonable to assume that the majority of Ukip’s support comes from those identifying as English or British, with most of these born in England.

Elsewhere we find results that may have been shaped by other factors. For example, Ukip’s relatively low vote in Ceredigion (20.2%) can perhaps be attributed to indigenes and academe combining to reject M. Farage. The same factors may have been at work in Gwynedd, where Ukip saw it’s worst result (19.8%). Perhaps the Welsh language also played a part. Back in the north east, it has been suggested that the Wrexham figure (32.4%) was influenced by the large numbers of EU migrants in the town.

Others may see pointers I’ve missed, or simply choose to come to different conclusions. But we can be sure that a party that gained the same 30.2 per cent in areas as diverse as Conwy and Blaenau Gwent is in one sense a national party, and in another sense, a party appealing to two different constituencies in the same country.

If I wanted to be provocative (though as you know it’s not in my nature) I could argue that Ukip is the only truly national party in Wales. That Ukip is the only party with support across the country, from golf club Blimps on the Costa Geriatrica to the helpless and the hopeless in the Heads of the Valleys.

Who’s to blame for this? Obviously Plaid Cymru. First, for lacking the balls to oppose the colonisation of our rural areas. Second, for being so utterly insipid, so ‘Let’s-cwtch-up-to-Labour’, that the party has no appeal for thousands upon thousands of people in the south who are pissed off with Labour and seeking another party to vote for.

That these desperate people, these ‘Welsh Only’ identifiers, have found Ukip more attractive than Plaid Cymru says more than words could ever say, and everything you need to know about Plaid Cymru.

Maybe for next Christmas some enterprising and politically astute manufacturer of novelties will have crackers containing the puzzler:

Q: Who is responsible for the popularity in Wales of the English nationalist Ukip?

A: The ‘Welsh nationalist’ Plaid Cymru!

Next time you hear a Plaidista get on their high horse and adopt a tone of moral superiority vis-à-vis Ukip, trying to tell us what a parcel of rogues they are, remind them who created this monster.

131 thoughts on “Ukip Uniting Wales?

  1. Red Flag

    That is just about correct. In the North it’s mainly an ‘English’ phenonama with most (but not all) of it’s vote coming from incomers.

    Whereas in the south – particulalrly in the valleys, it seems to be a general disillusionment with Labour and the lack of what the people of the south perceive as a credible unionist alternatve to Labour.

    I see latest projections for the next Assembly are UKIP taking around 9 seats and Labor unable to form a majority even with the projected Plaid and Lib Dem seats.

    1. Red Flag

      Sorry, cocked that up. I meant that Labour would not be able to form a majority without Plaid as the Lib Dems won’t have enough seats.

      But they may decide to govern in a minority on their own because the opposing parties (which will include UKIP as well now) are all far to divergent from each other to mount a coherent united opposition.

      1. You’re probably right, but I wouldn’t write off the Greens, they might get a Regional List seat and that could make all the difference.

  2. Anonymous

    Interesting stuff. It’s been pointed out on another thread that UKIP have been the recipients of massive UK national media attention which coupled with Farage’s near cult (not a typo) anti-politicians status has made voting for UKip the knee jerk response especially in post industrial south Wales.
    Perhaps gaining on the rebound from those who have changed a habit of a lifetime of voting Labour. Affairs made on the rebound usually don’t last maybe voting patterns will do likewise.

    1. Once the referendum is over Ukip should go into rapid decline . . . unless it re-focuses itself as the authentic voice of the English far Right. But given the timing, with the EU referendum coming soon after the Assembly elections, this can only help Ukip in the Assembly elections.

      1. Red Flag

        If it’s a close run thing – 5% either way, I very much doubt it. Look what losing IndyRef did for the SNP.

  3. dafis

    when the “picture” is spelt out in terms of raw data rather than sweeping generalisations it becomes evident that Plaid ( and others ) have slept at their posts while UKIP has infiltrated quite effectively. Not yet at a level to win absolute majorities but will be able to carve out a significant chunk of the regional list vote.

    What they are lacking is the quality of candidate. Even contemplating a “return” for the revolting Hamilton and Reckless is really to misjudge the nature of the potential that UKIP sadly possesses. If they were to recruit some genuinely Welsh mavericks they could go out and wipe the floor with the grey folk trotted out by Plaid & Labour, while the Tories are always drawn to a bigger picture elsewhere. Indeed ART Davies seems to be giving up already, or did he just forget to take his tablets ? LibDems used to steal Labour & Tory votes but UKIP now are better at that so the LD’s will be struggling ( apart from Ms Williams, who does a pretty good job as a representative, compared to vast majority of Senedd members ).

    1. Thinking of “Welsh mavericks” reminded me that Rod Richards is now in Ukip, but clearly they aren’t that desperate.

    1. Possibly, but as I said in my previous post: “Though the level of Ukip’s support is rather surprising seeing as the party keeps choosing unknown or unattractive candidates (the one often mutating into the other) and in other ways shooting itself in both feet. It begins to look as if Ukip’s leaders could be filmed sacrificing Romanian migrants on Aberystwyth promenade, bollock naked with their nether regions painted bright green, and still not lose support.”

    2. dafis

      His “Welshness” is something he trots out when it suits his purposes. I recall him describing Wales’ tie to England as “irreversable Anschluss, my dear boy ” while dressed up as some kind of Ruritarian generalissimo !! He was always ambitious, with ample delusions of grandeur, and would never let principles or issues of identity, loyalty, integrity get in his way. So no doubt he will be coming to a meeting somewhere near you soon !!

  4. Jeremy Wood

    Glad to see that you’re enjoying sime good wine! Probably the best Argentinean wine available in the UK (Argentina doesn’t export much of its really good stuff) is the Trapiche Single Vineyard series available occasionally from Laithwaites/Sunday Times Wine Club. You can buy it more cheaply in the UK than we can here in Patagonia.

    1. Nice to hear from you, Jeremy . . . even it does make me feel a bit guilty. (I still have the stuff you sent, and one day . . .) The name Trapiche rings a bell, I’ve seen it somewhere on local shelves, will look out for it.

  5. Ian Perryman

    I think your analysis is over complicated.
    UKIP being the only anti-EU and anti-immigration party will attract the anti-EU voters at an European election – regardless of ethnic background or geographical location.

    Rural areas, which benefit directly from EU membership through farming subsidies, would be more pro-European; which would explain the trends in Ceridigion and Gwynedd.

    There is no evidence that this will lead to a significant number of seats at the Assembly elections, as you consistently claim, because the assembly election is not about Europe or immigration.

    I would also speculate that a lot of people now see UKIP as a lost cause.
    Their much vaunted (by the opinion polls) 30 possible seats in the last Westminster election turned out to be very much a damp squib; in addition the Tories have stolen a lot of UKIP’s clothes with their spin on immigration and Europe. Their involvement in the multi-faceted Brexit campaign will further muddy the waters and make their party less distinctive.

    1. Ian, I always respect your contribution, however . . .

      If – as you suggest – farming subsidies can account for the low Ukip votes in Gwynedd and Ceredigion, then why not Powys, Denbighshire, Pembrokeshire? (And anyway, there’s less than 10 percentage points between them all.)

      And how can you argue that most people now see Ukip as a lost cause? Here’s the most recent Welsh poll, it shows Ukip on a high. The UK general election last year is an invalid comparison because in the Assembly elections, and the seats Ukip is likely to win, we are not dealing with first past the post.

      As for me overcomplicating it, I’m making a very simple point. In the south, people pissed off with Labour don’t find the other alternatives attractive and so many of them turn to Ukip; in the rural areas there is a much stronger English nationalist urge that so many want to – wrongly – attribute to the Valleys. Two distinct phenomena giving us the national picture.

      Another reason Ukip will do well in May is that the Assembly elections are, like the Euro elections, viewed by many voters as not ‘important’, so they will be less inhibited about voting for a party they would hesitate to vote for at a UK general election.

  6. Albert Hill

    Plaid are such well-behaved little ducklings and wouldn’t dream of upsetting anyone until they’ve got permission from their Guardianista pals. Not much there to attract browned-off, bolshie types from Blaenau Gwent.

  7. Non de plume

    I believe Plaid Cymru have turned their back on their core voters in the rural and Welsh language areas to chase urban Labour votes. Sadly Plaid Cymru voters are like Labour voters and will vote for a donkey, how long will this last?

    1. I sometimes think that Plaid has been trying to emulate New Labour: hang on to your core vote while also gaining a new constituency and attaining a position of real strength, but Plaid can’t do it. All it’s done is abandon its core, rural vote (being eroded year on year by immigration and anglicisation) while failing to gain the new constituency (in the Valleys). Falling between two stools is always painful.

      1. Non de plume

        Do you think that there are now 2 sides to Plaid Cymru? One being from the south Wales valleys with a largely English language background and the other side being the from the Welsh language crachach.

        1. To some extent that’s always been the case, but now, due to a number of factors, the sons of the manse and those who felt they should be the natural leaders of Plaid, are in retreat. If Plaid is to be a national party it needs more people like Neil McEvoy and fewer of those for whom the Eisteddfod is the most important event of the year.

          1. Non de plume

            I agree. The McEvoy, Wood and Price side is the real future of Plaid Cymru, the Welsh crachach have been holding the party back for years. It will take time but this new side to Plaid will create a strong party in the future.

            1. dafis

              McEvoy sounds like the real deal – bags of attitude with brains to underpin it. But as for Wood and Price, well my views are known and to write them in brutally blunt terms, again, serves no purpose at all.

      2. This of course is exactly what the SNP seem to have done — hang onto their original rural otherwise Lberal voters, while going for the Labour heartlands. Mind you, NuLabour never had much appeal in Scotland, so they were left with time-servers on the fiddle. Maybe ‘Welsh”Labour’ hasn’t yet sunk quite so low? And Leanne, bless her, although she really does try, doesn’t quite have Nicla’s ‘bite’, a sort of inner toughness.

        I could be quite wrong, but a careful comparison of the two situations might be informative.

  8. gwil williams

    Looking at the Valley authorities, UKIP support correlates most strongly with those NOT identifying as “Welsh only”.

    1. In Blaenau Gwent at the 2011 Census 72.4% described themselves as ‘Welsh Only’. Ninety per cent were born in Wales. The Ukip vote in Blaenau Gwent in 2014 was 30.2%. If you are right, then everybody who didn’t regard themselves as ‘Welsh Only’ (and a few of the ‘Welsh Only’, and many Welsh by birth) must have voted for Ukip. And of course the non-‘Welsh Only’ will include, Scots, Irish, Eastern Europeans, etc. Did they vote Ukip? Doesn’t add up does up. It may be unpalatable, but the truth must be faced – Ukip got a hell of a lot – maybe a majority – of its votes in the south from those who a few years earlier had described themselves as ‘Welsh Only’, certainly were born in Wales.

      1. Daley Gleephart

        Matthew J Goodwin (School of Politics & International Relations, University of Nottingham) and Gareth Harris (Department of Politics, Birkbeck, University of London) in a study ‘Rallying intolerance in the valleys: Explaining support for the extreme right in Wales’ found that the BNP was gaining popularity in the South Wales valleys due to declining job prospects for manual workers and the age old fear-of-the-unknown / xenophobia.

        Spreading scare stories about immigrants is effective in areas of almost zero immigration because the locals have no experience of living with people from different ethnic backgrounds. The doom mongers don’t have to paint pictures of half human / half beast creatures that appeared on the edges of medieval maps to get their distorted message across.

        With the disappearance of the BNP, UKIP has taken their place.

          1. Iestyn

            Yes, but the BNP were never accepted on a British (English) national scale, and thus were never seen as a genuine option. UKiP on the other hand, are not only accepted and publicised, but somehow have a “loveable rogue” image, in the same mould as white van man – and I personally know quite a few not-young-any-more valley “lads” (ie the kind who vote) who have longed for or cultivated that very image themselves. I think pint-and-a-fag Farage, appearing on page 2, (looking lustfully at page 3) is possibly the perfect poster boy for disillusioned valleys voters.

            1. I agree that Ukip is acceptable and mainstream in a way that the BNP / NF / EDL never could be, and this will inevitably result in votes from those who would baulk at voting for more overtly racist or fascist groups. And I note that you seem to be confirming my assertion that many of those who vote Ukip are Welsh, not English migrants or Britlanders, both of whom are fairly thin on the ground in the Valleys.

  9. gwil williams

    Certainly many UKIP voters were born in Wales, but perhaps not overwhelmingly “Welsh Only” identifiers. Identifying as “Welsh Only” is quite an assertion (sadly) and does not sit well with voting for UKIP. Look at the stats:
    Non Welsh Identity and UKIP vote
    Rhondda: 26.7 and 26.1
    Torfaen: 33.8 and 32.5
    NeathPT: 28.2 and 26.4
    Caerphil: 28.8 and 30.7
    BlaenGwent: 27.6 and 30.2
    Merthyr: 27.6 and 30.2
    This is a phenomenon that deserves attention.

    1. But you want to believe that almost all those who did not tick the Welsh Only box in 2011 voted for Ukip in 2014. Which didn’t happen. And in some areas the non-Welsh Only element is LESS than the Ukip vote! It might be comforting to think that those who described themselves Welsh Only did not vote for Ukip but many of them did, and I’ve explained why in my blog post.

      Compare it with the situation in Scotland. There hundreds of thousands of voters have deserted Labour – and most of them have gone to the SNP. If working class people in the towns and cities, and former mining and steel-working areas, of Scotland could switch to the SNP why didn’t their counterparts in Wales switch to Plaid Cymru?

      THIS is the question that has to be answered.

      1. Anonymous

        The census form never defines what ‘Welshness’ is. You self define it. One persons ‘Welshness’ might be another persons ‘Englishness’.

        Perhaps the Valleys definition of ‘Welshness’ is ‘Englishness’ with a Welsh accent. In that regard voting for UKIP (an English Nationalist Party) makes perfect sense.

        There is no difference between ‘Welshness’ and ‘Yorkshireness’ or ‘Essexness’ so why shouldn’t they vote UKIP.

        If that is the case the Unionist Labour Party’s 100 year rule of Wales has so diluted Welshness in the Valleys, you are spiritually a region of England in all but name already simply awaiting to officially become a region of England. Plaid Cymru have no tract here. Your simply flogging a dead horse.

        1. By self-defining as ‘Welsh Only’ a person rejects ‘Welsh and British’, ‘British’, and all other options. This is a pretty strong indicator that such people regard themselves as first and foremost, or even solely, Welsh.

          Your paragraph 3 is pure bollocks. Who would describe themselves as ‘Yorkshire Only’ or ‘Essex Only’, thereby rejecting Englishness and / or Britishness?

          The further bollocks in para 4 makes me wonder where you’re coming from. Even more so if you think I’m speaking for Plaid Cymru.

          1. Anonymous

            Your definition of Welshness prevents you from voting for Unionist or English Nationalist Parties (ie UKIP).
            Their definition of Welshness does not prevent them from voting for Unionist or English Nationalist Parties (ie UKIP). As voting patterns and intentions have shown. So the only reasoning we can conclude from this is that there is not ONE agreed definition of Welshness. So you might find it illogical to vote for a Unionist Party or UKIP they might find it perfectly logical. These voters might be looking for an alternative UNIONIST party to vote for and have found it in UKIP, even though they are ticking Welsh Only on the Census Form.

            Your thesis seems to be: you have rejected Britishness on the Census Form therefore “there is a large constituency” out there ripe for a Welsh Nationalist Party to cultivate and Plaid are not scoring any goals albeit whatever problems they might be having. My contention is define “Welshness” not from your point of view. But from the point of view of a Valleys Voter.

            More importantly what is the psychology of the valleys voter have you entertained the option that
            i: Ticking Welsh Only and voting Unionist is not a mutually exclusive concept for them – ie they are not looking for a nationalist party to vote for. To assume ticking Welsh Only on the Census form must eventually electorally translate to voting for Non Unionist Parties might be a little too logical. Voters are anything but logical. There is that old problem of old habits die hard, disinterest etc

            ii: Conceiving of an independent Wales when no one has made the case for it and you are persistently told you are poor and there are no jobs in your area might translate at the ballot box to why “WASTE MY VOTE” on a nationalist party – that’s just pollyanna pie in the sky rubbish? As opposed to I am Welsh why am I voting for an English Nationalist Party. They might even contend I have always voted for Unionist Parties, UKIP is NOT an English Nationalist Party, I am simply voting for an alternative Unionist Party.

            iii: Grievance politics always works when your in a dark hopeless community.

            What is the percentage of Eastern Europeans in the Valleys, a lot less than other areas in the UK but you can take your anger out on an invisible threat. UKIP is not going to create jobs or ameliorate the economic conditions in the Valleys but that sort of rational or reasoning does not work when you are in a negative place. Hence the reason why UKIP can be in all sorts of disarray and maintain a poll lead. Anger does not do logic or reason, these are angry people looking for someone to blame and the Knight in Shining Armour has arrived to tell them all will be well if you vote for me. Your correct observational standpoint is that’s illogical – you ticked Welsh Only on the Census Form, how can you vote for an English Nationalist Party. One persons illogicality is another persons logic, perhaps focus on what do you mean and understand by Welshness, where do you see your community and this country(that is if you even see Wales as a nation, country in its own right) in a decades time (ie what is the vision – Indeed who is selling a vision of Wales in a decades time?) and how does this translate when a voter goes into the ballot box.

            There is no Yorkshire or Esssex on the Census Form if I remember correctly and considering there is a Yorkshire First Party it would be interesting to see how many people in England would tick Yorkshire and English or Yorkshire Only if the option was available.

            UKIP does not poll well in Scotland(do they even get past 1%), perhaps because the Scots definition of Scottishness is not Englishness with a Scottish accent. So perhaps you are making my point for me about the definition of Welshness and UKIPs success in the Valleys.

            1. First, I refer you to the comment from Gwilym ab Ioan.

              Second, while I accept your point about varieties and degrees of Welshness (it has ever been thus), but it still doesn’t explain why a volatile electorate, looking for something new, finds Plaid Cymru so unattractive.

              All in all, good points. But my reading of this is that if Wales had a party more like the SNP and less like Plaid Cymru we wouldn’t be having this exchange.

        2. Y Ddraig Las

          That’s nonsense. Is Scottishness just a form of Englishness with a Scottish accent then?

    1. Proves my point. The non-‘Welsh Only’ element – inc Irish, Scots, Poles, etc – makes up only 26.8% of Merthyr’s population yet Ukip got 33.8 per cent of the vote in 2014.

  10. gwil williams

    Jesus Jac. I’m not saying every single non Welsh identifier voted UKIP and every Welsh only identifier did not, just that there is a strong correlation in the Valley towns of identifying as Welsh only and not voting UKIP.

    1. You started this exchange with, ‘Looking at the Valley authorities, UKIP support correlates most strongly with those NOT identifying as “Welsh only”.’

  11. Y Ddraig Las

    In my experience (Merthyr and Rhymni Valley), a lot of these UKIP voters are patriotic and pro-Welsh. It’s a reaction against the largescale Eastern European immigration to the area and a stand against Islamism. Corbyn is seen as a wimp and Plaid Cymru aren’t on the radar.

    The Valleys don’t exist in a vacuum, most people here fear the creep of a greater Cardiff and want to retain sense of community and identity. People feel as if they’ve been taken for granted.

      1. dafis

        “The creeps from a Greater Cardiff” – best description of the enemy within I have seen for years ! Bravo Y Ddraig Las. Cardiff is the major Welsh concentration of Islamic communities, so the “threat” is local if that’s how we wish to perceive it.

        The E Europe migrants are probably a bigger sign of EU indifference – the consequences, intended or otherwise, of massive shifts of people are now disregarded, indeed treated as “rights” without any concern about the rights of the natives and prior inhabitants. Very telling is the reaction of earlier immigrants who have been here since say 70’s or 80’s who are often just as vociferous in their rejection of uncontrolled volumes of newcomers.

        This recent “first wave” from E Europe creates a precondition – a reflex – that automatically dislikes and responds negatively to the prospect of large numbers of refugees/migrants from conflict zones, whatever their merits. At the individual level, a refugee family is still likely to treated with respect, but the institutions and politics that enables large scale movements will inevitably be rejected by ordinary folk.

        UKIP is the only party that has adopted a clearly defined stance, and therein lies the reason for their success. Yes, it feeds fear and feeds on fear, but offers some kind of superficial solution. There again that’s what most democratic parties have been doing for a long time except they have become increasingly limp wristed and reluctant to act, spouting promises, raising fears but doing nothing of any significance. The posh boy Cameron exemplifies this with his “deal ” at the EU. Another posh boy, Jacob Rees Mogg, summed it up nicely as “thin gruel”, much huff and puff and posturing. Farage has a field day slamming into the P.M’s ribs with a grin on his chops and the natural reaction among the common herd is to see him, Farage, as their advocate.

        So we get to where we are today with 4 long established parties, who should have a sound grasp of the dynamics of Welsh politics and its socio economic predicament, and should be raring to go at improving our economic performance, revitalising our language and cultural identity, planning to steadily push us up the league table of smaller nations. Instead we have 4 parties wedded to dependency culture engaging unashamedly in a pissing competition to see who can fill up the begging bowl with handouts from Brussels and London. ART Davies says he wants out of EU, and I said earlier that he must have forgot his tablets, or did he swallow another empty promise from someone in London that Wales’ poverty allowance will be maintained at its current subsistence level if he’s ever in charge. All in all this is getting to look like a fine mess and UKIP could hold a balance of power which will have the other 4 mincing around desparately seeking out old recipes for compromise to set us back another 5 years.

        1. Daley Gleephart

          It’s the ‘creep’ of a Greater Cardiff not ‘creeps’. A case of seeing what you want to see?

            1. Daley Gleephart

              Well, anyone who views a former commodities trader as the advocate of the common herd and sees Islam in Wales as a threat, when 1.5% of the population here is Muslim, has more than a problem with eyesight.

          1. dafis

            Very deliberate play on the word but you must surely see there’s plenty of grasping creeps in Cardiff and you don’t have to look too hard to see them fostering the creep of Cardiff into adjacent territory. These boys & girls want a much expanded City Region cos it fits in with their grant grabbing power crazy delusion. The rest of Wales is just a hinterland to be exploited by the “City State” that is at the heart of their delusion.

    1. Daley Gleephart

      Large scale eastern European immigration in Merthyr and Rhymni Valley? Do you have verifiable data? There’s some info on a Guardian article of 2011 that records 3.6% of Merthyr’s population were born outside of the UK. See: http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2011/may/26/foreign-born-uk-population
      Merthyr has a poverty rating that’s worse than the eastern European members of the EU.

      Corbyn seen as a wimp? – That’s propaganda from the usual suspects in the media and in right-wing political groups. Doesn’t explain the election results of previous years though.

      Hopefully, the patriotic and pro-Welsh inhabitants in the valleys have woken up to realise that UKIP is not exactly on their side. Neil Hamilton suggested to Jeremy Corbyn that he recruits IRA terrorists to shoot pensioners and thereby eliminate poverty in old age. See: http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1987/dec/01/elimination-of-poverty-in-old-age-etc-1#S6CV0123P0_19871201_HOC_204

      1. The only sizeable recent migration to Merthyr that I can recall was at a meat-packing plant where the company insisted locals were not interested in the jobs and so they had to look further afield for workers. Though I believe those recruited came from Portugal not eastern Europe.

        1. davidlewis

          There are very few Portuguese here in Merthyr Tudful these days. You are far more likely to hear Eastern European languages spoken than Portuguese. The meat packing factory now mostly employs Eastern Europeans.

          1. I stand corrected. But didn’t there used to be a lot of Portuguese working at the packing plant? Was that before the east European states came into the EU?

            1. davidlewis

              The meat-packing plant did open in 1999, well before the East European countries joined the EU in 2004. I moved to Merthyr in 2006 and have noticed a steady decline in the numbers of Portuguese relative to East Europeans in the last ten years. It seems likely that the original workforce was largely Portuguese but is now largely East European.

  12. Mabon

    Jac, if you had magically comtrolled Plaid Cymru policy since 1971, what would you have had them do?

    1. That’s a hell of a question. The short answer is I suppose that I would have done the opposite to what Plaid Cymru actually did, or didn’t do.

      Primarily, I would have ensured that the party did not drift to the Left. That it did not become more concerned with pats on the head from Guardian readers, Greens, LGBT activists and others at the expense of gaining the respect of ordinary Welsh voters – the very people Plaid expected to vote for the party despite being ignored!

      I have said it before and I will say it again. I believe that from the 1980s on there was within Plaid a small but very influential group whose members had either been subverted or infiltrated and the role of this group was to ensure that Plaid failed.

      This group has succeeded beyond the wildest hopes of those controlling it.

      1. Anonymous

        There’s no rule on where in the left-right spectrum those who support independence must lie. So a preference of a right of centre or left of centre Cymru are equally valid. I’d prefer a left of centre one and so (being aware of the many differences between Scotland and Wales) I see a route forward broadly “following” the one that’s been successful for the SNP.
        I understand your preference is for a right of centre future but this clearly isn’t Plaid Cymru’s . Therefore it seems to me that your criticism, which I agree with, that Plaid are not as adept as the SNP conflicts with your wish that Plaid be a more right wing party and therefore logically a very different independence party than the SNP. Unless you think that the SNP being a left of centre party isn’t a significant factor in their success.

  13. gwil williams

    Jac, you stated, “in the Valleys authorities, with their small percentages of English residents, most Ukip support must come from people who identified in the 2011 Census as ‘Welsh Only’.” I honestly don’t believe that is the case. In RCT, for example, I think most (by no means all) Ukip support came from Welsh-born people who identify as British or Welsh and British along with a the growing numbers of English-born residents. I have spoken to loads of people in the Western Valley of Gwent and the Ukippers are primarily English migrants and the more numerous, if less vocal, Welsh-born Brit identifiers.

    1. I stand by that because I cannot accept that ALL those who did not identify as ‘Welsh Only’ voted Ukip. The figures don’t add up. You quoted the example of Blaenau Gwent where 72.4% of the population in 2011 identified themselves as Welsh Only in 2011, yet the Ukip vote in 2014 was 30.2%. OK, so it could be that many of the Welsh Only did not vote in 2014 and a much higher percentage of the non-Welsh identifiers did vote, and voted Ukip. But without the evidence to support that we have to assume that the same percentages in all identification groups voted, and in that case then the figures do not add up, because the Ukip vote exceeds by some margin the percentage of non-Welsh identifiers.

      Do you have any evidence to support a) your contention that almost all Ukip voters in the Valleys belong to the non-Welsh groups and b) that they turned out in higher numbers to vote in 2014?

      1. Not sure the logic of gauging how people vote according to how they self-identify is sound. People are fickle, and often do some of the most unexpected things – I know you are aware of that Jac, as that is, if I understand you correctly, exactly your point. I once remember being quite taken aback at meeting a very died in the wool Plaid Cymru supporting family in darkest Carmarthenshire who were also huge fans of the English royal family! I mean huge, in that they seemed to have just about every commemorative mug and plate going back to Queen Victoria in their china cabinet. I find this kind of behaviour distinctly worrying in the families of relatives who actually do stand up when God Save the Queen is played on the TV or the radio – at home, let alone amongst those who are supposedly nationalist supporters.

        I think someone here hit the nail on the head when suggesting that the reason for UKIP’s relative popularity amongst Valleys people is that it is a protest against Labour, irrational fear of those described as immigrants, (though as you state, immigration to this are of Wales is low) and the complete lack of a backbone on the part of Plaid Cymru.

        Plaid’s biggest mistake over the past 30 odd years has not been it’s increasing move towards the left, (it’s hardly radically left wing, even by the standards of the 1960s Labour Party, Trotskyists they ain’t) but rather it’s clear lack of an idea of where it wants to go, and where it’s at. I don’t think that independence has ever really been a big problem to potential voters in the Valleys and wider South East Wales, but Plaid’s constant dithering over the issue, some would say lack of honesty has been a huge problem, to the point that for considerable period of time all a Labour politician had to do to cut Plaid in it’s stride was to taunt them over the issue of independence, knowing full well that Plaid would go into a tail spin of denials and justifications that took the heat very nicely off Labour. Support for Plaid in the Valleys has been quite strong for nearly 50 years now, certainly strong enough to scare Labour to the point of vitriolic hatred for the ‘nationalists’.

        If Plaid came out with a clear message about independence and what Wales really needs, and actually started campaigning on the basis of the discussions held with people on what they want from the Wales they live in then Plaid might well gain some real traction and kill the beast that is UKIP, and oust Welsh Labour too.

  14. Fi

    I think one mistake being made is that you are assuming that the %age of people voting from each category is the same. I doubt that, and I suspect the turnout figures for the indigenous, welsh-identifiers might be lower than the turnout for the incomers who identify as English.

    If we look at Merthyr, for example, with around 72% of the identifying as Welsh, and around 28% therefore identifying as not welsh. The population of Merthyr is around 80k I guess (sorry, I haven’t had time to research the here), so there might be 50,000 voters, 36k of them Welsh identifying, 14k not. Now, lets look at a hypothetical situation:

    If the turnout was 60%, then 30,000 people voted. To gain 30% of the vote, UKIP needed only 9,000 votes, which is 64% of the non-Welsh identifying voters. Now, this is still quite high, but if we were to assume that the incoming English voters might be more inclined to vote, AND to vote for UKIP, then it’s not unreasonable to expect that the vast majority of the UKIP votes did come from that group.

    If the turnout for Welsh-identifying voters was 50% (19.8k) and the turnout for non-Welsh identifying voters was 75% (11.5k), then if 5% of the Welsh-identifiers voted UKIP (975 people) then they would only need 70% of the non-Welsh identifiers to get their 30%. I accept of course that even 70% is unlikely, but this is meant just to illustrate a point.

    Thank you for your blog – it is magnificent. Sorry if I rambled a bit above, I just wanted to put something down quickly before going to bed 🙂

    1. But there is no evidence for differing turnouts in groups that identify differently. In the absence of such evidence I must work on the assumption that the turnout was the same in each group. Anything else is speculation.

      Glad you enjoy the blog. Sleep well.

      1. Fi

        There is, similarly, no evidence that the turnout amongst different groups was similar. Your assumption is speculation.

        Basically, whilst you can speculate over the share of the vote that UKIP received, and you can speculate as to the political character of the “valleys”, the data you presented can’t be used to support your speculations or theories, because of this unknown element. Just as you can make an assumption (or speculation) of equal turnouts for the different groupings, it is equally valid to assume (or speculate) that the turnouts were different. Without knowing that, I’m afraid that the data itself doesn’t have much value, because – as I demonstrated – an alternative assumption paints a different picture. Sorry.

        1. You’re obviously persistent so, in the interests of compromise, I’m prepared to offer that voting patterns were not the same across all groups, and that a higher percentage of those in the ‘English Only’ and ‘British’ groups voted Ukip. Even so, given the small numbers in these groups found in the Valleys it still means that a hell of a lot of the ‘Welsh Only’ must also have voted for Ukip.

          1. Fi

            Obviously 🙂

            The %age that voted for UKIP from the Welsh identifiers could be as small as 2.5% of the electorate. It could be even smaller, but I think 2.5% is a reasonable number.

            I’m not actually disagreeing with your assesment, just your use of data as evidence, which it clearly isn’t.

            1. If you want to comfort yourself by believing that only 2.5% of the ‘Welsh Only’ identifiers – or even less! – voted for Ukip then that’s fine with me.

            2. Fi

              I don’t. I wanted to point out that your statistics were completely irrelevant to the main thrust of your argument, and I think I did that.

              You have two sets of unrelated data (total population and voters), so you cannot extrapolate meaning from one set to the other, however much you’d like to. Obviously, if you knew the turnout for each group, the two sets of data would become related.

              Regardless, it’s led to a very interesting discussion.

  15. Before I start apologies for the length of my post Jac!

    Whether we like it or not, many within the industrialised south Wales valleys are an anomaly. Having lived and worked in Cwmbrân for nearly a decade and the Rhondda for fifteen years, there were many aspects to the population there that were totally alien to me as a Cardi Cymraeg, and it’s not just the language – it’s the basic culture. They sometimes fall between Cymru & Lloegr! Except on Rugby International day when they can have a full share in something as accepted ‘fully paid up’ Welsh people.

    In the eastern part of south Wales are the very Anglicised ‘Welsh’. In my time there many in Cwmbrân & Newport bore more resemblance in thinking and attitudes to people from the other side of the Severn estuary – but if asked they would swear their allegiance to Wales, and on the basis of being born within it’s borders they would proudly consider themselves ‘Welsh’. Then you also had pockets there that were (politically) historically very radical. They tend to embrace certain political ideals with a huge gusto, or they can get scared or spooked into changing direction very quickly. What makes them stand out is that it happens not slowly to a small percentage at a time, but to large swathes, and at the drop of a hat. Think Gwent Valleys, they can turn on a sixpence. from frantic support for Labour, to a sudden change to Plaid (early days of the Senedd) or they can, under certain circumstances, drop Labour and put in an independent. If pushed they can’t be trusted not to jump into bed with the likes of UKIP (as long as no one tells them they’re voting for Tory English Nationalist – they WILL draw a line there!).

    The Rhondda & Cynon Valley people are slightly different, but just as likely to make strange ‘U’ turns, only to revert back to type again, which of course means Labour. Don’t forget Merthyr Tydfil was where Kier Hardy won the first Labour seat. Simply because the people there can be easily drawn into an action quicker than elsewhere. They have recently toyed with UKIP – not a surprise to me. Merthyr has in the past also rallied to the Plaid call.

    There are a few reasons for this. Many in the valleys are a hybrid Welsh tribe. You only have to browse the list of surnames to see that their roots are often from the West country and other ‘labouring’ areas of England. Their forefathers got sucked in during the second expansion of the coalfields, after the coal owners ran out of suitable labourers from the rest of Cymru. Bernard Manning famously said (although for all the wrong reasons based on racism) “I can put my dog in a pig sty, but that doesn’t make him a pig”. Cultures, attitudes and general outlooks take a long time to change, sometimes they never do. Ottoman Turks in the Balkans from the fourteenth century to this day attest to that.

    This poor ‘hybrid’ Welsh tribe in south Wales have had a tough time of it. They’ve been exploited, worked to death, kept in abstract poverty, been shunned by the Welsh speaking ‘crachach’ and ridiculed and shunned by their native ancestors in England. They themselves often refer to people with a west/ north Walian accent as ‘Welshies’ (a funny thing for a fellow Welshman to say – but consider their lineage and the original attitudes towards the Welsh by their ancestors in their new country). You’ll often hear them say “he/ she is very ‘Welshy, isn’t he/ she?”. Then they in turn get confronted by the English people (and I include Cardiffians here) with derogatory remarks like “they’re thick ‘Valley Boys’ or ‘they’re sheep shaggers from the Valleys’. Is it any wonder they sometimes get a chip on their shoulder? Their reaction is often a rebellious political outpouring, through attachment to something like UKIP – in the hope that someone will fight their cause.

    Without a shadow of a doubt they carry a big burden, and added to that is a deep natural xenophobia towards outsiders. I loved going to the Rhondda on social visits to my first late wife’s family, a greater degree of hospitality and friendliness you couldn’t wish for – you’d swear they’d fallen in love with you. Go and work there and you soon see another side, distrust, cliqueiness and a harbouring of resentment that you may be thinking that you’re better than them – they are deeply insecure and lack confidence when it comes to outsiders. Beat a drum and chant the BNP or UKIP mantra about ‘foreigners’ and you soon realise why they respond.

    It would be wonderful if Plaid had the balls and vision to help them, by fighting for our nationalism, patriotism & independence proper, but they are a hollow shell – like a mermaid’s purse. Labour abuses the the hybrid Welsh, and they in response latch on to something else occasionally, but when the heat comes on, they flee back into Labour’s arms..

    You can crunch statistics to your heart’s content, the proof of the pudding lies in something far deeper than what you see on and between the lines of a piece of paper with numbers on. It has very little to do with whether someone views themselves as Welsh or not. Granted, the more colonisers that invade the stronger the leaning towards UKIP, also you can expect the same in the on-border counties

    Even if UKIP make a mark in the Senedd elections – which I very much doubt – it will be very short lived. I’ll stick my neck out and forecast the same success for UKIP in our elections as they got in the last general election. A lot of huff & puff and no result. This will be especially so as our elections are around the same time as the EU referendum – can you see UKIP fighting an Assembly election and a referendum at the same time? Especially given their rabid anti European interests.

    It will be back to the status quo. In fact, I believe that what may have come as a windfall to ‘Welsh’ Labour is Jeremy Corbyn who will make many disillusioned grass roots Labour supporters in Cymru feel more comfortable again. After all, many in Cymru still haven’t understood the difference between devolved politics and UK politics – that’s why the Labourites always hoot on that a lost Labour vote will open the door to the Conservatives, even when the Conservatives were in oblivion after Thatcher’s antics.

    1. This is brilliant, you’ve excelled yourself.

      That said, I think you’re wrong about Ukip not doing well in the Assembly elections. What stuffed them last year was FPTP, but in the Assembly elections they’ll be going for regional list seats. And they won’t be stretching their resources in fighting an election and a referendum because to all intents and purposes these’ll be one and the same, with all the free publicity from the referendum helping their Assembly campaign.

      Again, an insightful analysis that raises the obvious question: If we are dealing with an insecure population given to sudden changes in political allegiance how come Plaid Cymru hasn’t benefited?

      1. Brychan

        Gwilym, one thing is unique about the ‘central valleys’ is that (not so much now) different villages have different ethnicity because of the recruitment policy of the coal owners. Coffin started this off with the Dinas who recruited from Shropshire, Navigation having the Cornish, Ocean and Dare (Davies Llandinam) had a whole family recruitment policy from rural Wales which is why there were pockets of Welsh speaking in Treorci and Trecynon (no Blue Book and no nots in the chapel school). Combine and consolidated owners who also recruited from Ireland, and Ebenezer/Thomas’s recruited by housing bond. I was always surprised to see “Welsh spoken here” signs on a counter in café’s elsewhere in Wales but in the Rhondda you can have a conversation in English for hours with someone until they find out what side of the street you’re from before switching to Welsh (a generation which pre-dates Welsh schools). What really pisses me off is the political establishment brand ‘the valleys’ as some kind of homogenious monoculture, a kind of dustbin of culture, sometimes branded as cultural half-breeds by Plaidies from elsewhere in Wales and the Labour Party treating people some kind of ‘invented prolaterian utopia’ to be mined for votes by outsider candidates parachuted in. The votes that go to Ukip in ‘general’ elections are the same votes that often go to the maverik chopsy independent upstart that can stand can turn over a sitting Labour paracite by a swing of a thousand votes in just one ward on a council election. It’s refreshing to see the influence of Leanne. No longer are people from the valleys ‘sent down to Cardiff to phone up Cardi’s and Gogs on election day’ when knowing there’s a streetfull of Plaid votes going begging, them waiting to be doorstepped in the Rhondda. As Jac points out, nearly 80% define themselves as ‘Welsh only’, these are the people who can’t get their kids into a Welsh language school as there’s no places available, these are the people who have to beg a European handout to buy the goalposts on a football pitch, these are the people who goes down as ‘jobs created’ which turns out to be a call centre in Cardiff on the minimum wage, these are the people get scrapped when the polikoff factory closes, these are the people who get shafted when the hall and chapel is demolished because the assembly restoration cash has been spent on some grand norman castle or botanic garden for tourists. The party that will win these votes is the party that can address these issues. I think it’s wise to keep an eye on what’s happening in the valleys these elections, things are changing…..sorry for the rant.

        1. Big Gee

          Don’t apologise for the rant – I for one thoroughly enjoyed it!

          What you say about the social deprevation is spot on, as I’ve seen & experienced it with my own eyes. In the past I’ve also canvassed for Plaid both when I lived there and by going back down there after coming home here to Ceredigion – so I know what the reactions are on the doorsteps. The problem is more to do with Plaid than the people. I say that because Plaid have been unable to present a genuine and trustworthy alternative to Labour. Aping them is not the answer, and hiding behind the soffa when the independence subject used to raise it’s head is not the way to endear yourself to those people. They react far better to a principled party with fire in it’s belly & not a whimpering poodle that tries to please everyone – sometimes in what appears to be a two faced way.

          Generally valley people feel left out – a problem enhanced by being reminded that they are not fully Welsh! It reminds me of the historical problem with Monmouthshire – as one wag put it “Monmouthshire is the bit of Wales that was given away to the English, but the English didn’t want it” so the population feels isolated and the odd one out.

          They need to feel inclusive from a national point of view, and that’s easier said than done because of the chip on the shoulder they carry based on their known cultural origins, which they are reminded of by the Welsh speaking ‘crachach’ from the more northern & western areas of Cymru. However the only way to win them over is for Plaid to roll up it’s sleeves and get stuck in at street level to help them out – very much the same as Sinn Féin have worked hard to do to gain political support in northern Ireland. Going around chanting socialist crap that sounds like Labour won’t do it.

          Sinn Féin & the SNP have shown that the only way to win hearts is to set out your stall, stick with your core values & principles (regardless of how unpopular they may be at the beginning) and by intelligent debate get the message over and win the arguments.

      2. Big Gee

        Thank you for your kind words Jac!

        In answer to your question: “If we are dealing with an insecure population given to sudden changes in political allegiance how come Plaid Cymru hasn’t benefited?”

        That’s pretty simple, if you’re contemplating jumping off your ledge you want to land on a ledge further up not further down.

        A) The greater part of the southern population have no natural attraction to a “Welshie” party – we’re dealing with an Anglo-Welsh hybrid here (most still see Plaid as the party of the Welsh speaking hinterland and don’t believe they are genuine in offering anything to them). That is not necessarily obvious by their hybrid ‘Wenglish’ dialect, but it comes from deep rooted and ingrained cultural characteristics and attitudes that originally come from England and which have been passed on from generation to generation.

        B) If they get tempted to let go of mother Labour’s apron strings, then they need to feel that Plaid (or some other party) has something better and more progressive and exciting to offer them in their predicament.

        Plaid as I said earlier, is a mermaid’s purse – hollow and useless that just gets blown about on the sea shore – they don’t even offer the wider population of Cymru anything – much less the insecure population of the Anglicised south. The exception was the first Assembly elections when some in the Valleys saw Plaid as the natural party of the Assembly – in fact some thought that the Assembly WAS Plaid Cymru! After a short period of realisation they then drifted back to Labour.

        Plaid, instead of gradually becoming more hard-line and radical, just carried on being as useless as a chocolate teapot, stupidly thinking that what they needed to do was become Labour MK 2. Unlike the SNP who pressed on and finally offered something different to the disillusioned, traditional Labour voters in Scotland. The faffing about on the independence issue totally highlights Plaid’s lily livered tendencies – unlike the SNP who stuck with their principles – come what may – and finally cracked it.

        A disillusioned population doesn’t want to support a wishy-washy party that can’t be trusted to tell the truth about where they stand (see also Lib-Dem). At least UKIP (disillunioned English Nationalist morons as they are) stick to their guns – hence the passing but fleeting appeal that they offer to some of the less sophisticated voting public.

        Can you think of anything exciting or different that Plaid has to offer? I can’t. That’s why they haven’t benefited.

    2. Rhywun

      That’s a load of bollocks, I’m afraid. Take Merthyr for example: in 1891, when the town’s population was at its peak of over 80, 000, 68.4% of it inhabitants were Welsh speakers. Even by 1911, Welsh speakers were still a small majority of 51%. If you read ‘The Merthyr Rising’ by Gwyn Alf Williams, you’ll find that at the time of the famous uprising, for example, less than 6% of the population was English.

      You’ve fallen completely for the myth that the Valleys were never that Welsh. That’s incorrect. The English element is massively over-emphasized. Just look at what I’ve outlined about Metrhyr above. There were never enough English there for a ‘hybrid’ identity to emerge. For the vast majority of its history (until the 1922 Census) it was majority Welsh speaking, with the ‘foreign’ element never being more than 15% of the population. Do some research before coming to such lamentably shoddy conclusions.

      1. Brychan

        “The English element is massively over-emphasized”. If your surname is O’Sullivan, Sterlini, or McDonald in the valleys, why do you risk being branded as ‘English’. Bizarre. How many Labour politicians go round Luton branding voters with the surname of Singh or Patel as being ‘un-British (in the England sense)’? That would be racist. But the Labour Party, and the media will happily consider Welsh people as automatically ‘foreign stock’ based on exaggerated (and miss-labelled) ‘minority’ work migrations of the turn of the last century.

      2. Big Gee

        Don’t be afraid it’s ‘bollocks’ because it simply isn’t my riend. If you think the huge in migration into the south Wales valleys had no effect on the politics, mindset and general cultural makeup of the area (up to this day) then you need to do a bit of wider research, instead of cherry picking snippets from Gwyn Alf Williams. Up until the 1890’s it is true that the valleys were predominantly Welsh, in fact it’s ‘Welsness’ had been increased due to the movement of Welsh speaking workers from traditional Welsh cultural backgrounds into the coalfield. However from the 1890’s on it’s a different story.

        Here is an excerpt from the AGOR web-site. AGOR is a loose partnership between two constituent projects:

        1. CWM (Coalfield Web Materials), led by the University of Wales Swansea, and relating to coal mining in South Wales

        2. Llechwefan (“slatesite”), led by Gwynedd Council (Culture section), relating to slate quarrying in North Wales

        “Between 1851 and 1911, it is estimated that some 366,000 people moved into the South Wales Coalfield. The peak of this migration occurred between 1901 and 1911 when 129,000 people moved into the area. Such was the rate of growth at this time that South Wales absorbed immigrants at a faster rate than any where in the world except the United States of America.

        Up until the 1890s, many of the people who moved into the Coalfield were from other counties in Wales, such as Cardiganshire, Montgomeryshire and Merioneth. After the 1890s, many more immigrants came from England, particularly from Somerset, Gloucestershire and Cornwall. People also came from further afield, such as Ireland, Scotland and even Australia.

        In Dowlais and Abercrave, there were communities of Spaniards. In Merthyr, there were small communities of Russians, Poles and French and in many of the Valley towns, Italians opened cafes.

        Two statistics tell the story: in 1801 the population of Glamorgan was 70,879 – in 1901 it was 1,130,668. In 1851, the population of the Rhondda was 1,998 – in 1911 it was 152,781”.

        Now try telling me that the huge influx of migrants (mostly from England) who settled in the area did not change the cultural, linguistic and political face of the south & I’ll show you a nice seafront property that I have for sale in Birmingham.

      3. treforus

        I must support Brychan and Gwilym. You may be correct that there was not a major influx into the old areas of Aberdare and Merthyr but after the Ocean Company hit the deep seams at Cwmparc and started the Welsh Klondyke of the last quarter of the 19th century, most of the newcomers to Rhondda and the nearby areas such as Garw were from away. Englishmen such as Hartshorn, Hodges and Cook took over from the likes of Mabon as representatives of the colliers. Ironically there were more native Welshmen among the coalowners than the union leaders in the central valleys.

    3. Brycheiniog

      As somebody from the Valleys whose attention has been drawn to your post, I am deeply surprised, indeed, indignant at your claim that the people of the Valleys are somehow ‘hybrid’ Welsh. It is a claim that just doesn’t stand to reason, and is frankly offensive.

      Firstly, you need not look far at all to realize that the majority of people in the Valleys have typically ‘Welsh’ surnames. On my school register, there were large blocks of Williams, Jones, Owen, Powell, Thomas, Pritchard, Probert, Evans and so forth. That is no anomaly. Look anywhere, and such names abound in the Valleys. The ratio of ‘English’ or other names there is not that much different to y Fro Gymraeg, for that matter. This is as the main population base of the Valleys was rural Welsh dwellers drawn from the overpopulated country wards. Hence why many Valleys towns were majority Welsh-speaking until the beginning of the 20th century. By your logic then, are Caernarfon and Aberystwyth, fortified towns founded by the English, ‘hybrid’ also as a result?

      Yes, there has been immigration to the Valleys, but no population is static. Most of Wales has experienced such immigration, especially the industrialized areas. In the Valleys, most of the immigration was concentrated nearest Cardiff; north of Pontypridd, that influence lessens. Moreover, if having been the receiver of immigration renders a population ‘hybrid’, what the hell is most of Ceredigion, Gwynedd and Môn where you’ll struggle to find a town with less than 30% of the population English born? If immigration from England renders a place ‘hybrid’ Welsh, or in other words, somehow not fully Welsh, how are the Valleys less Welsh than say large parts of Mid Wales, where the English are a majority, whereas the Valleys remain over 85% Welsh on the whole?

      Most pertinently, the idea of the Valleys being ‘hybrid’ Welsh is completely new to me. Go and tell the people of a Valleys town they aren’t fully Welsh, are ‘hybrid’ Welsh! They certainly don’t consider themselves hybrid.

      No wonder Welsh nationalism never takes off when people from a part of Wales who feel most Welsh, and are Welsh, are considered ‘hybrid’. Even as regards y Gymraeg, most people in the valleys have/had a grandparent, or grandparents who spoke Welsh.

      Bizzare.

      1. Tarian

        Spot on. The roots of valleys people are predominantly Welsh. Many may have a non-Welsh ancestor but the most incomers came from rural Wales. Even in the case of English incomers assimilation into a Welsh identity has been complete. The Welsh speaking communities of the Glamorgan valleys were very adept at assimilating incomers, even linguistically. In terms of anglicisation it was the education system that broke the back of the Welsh language in the valleys. English immigration was a neccessary but not sufficient cause of this shift.

        It’s also worth bearing in mind that the valleys showed strong support and sympathy for MAC, FAW and MG. They have also at least times shown support for the more dynamic Plaid politicians. I’m not advocating violence here, just pointing out that valleys people will not respond to the grey non entities that have led Plaid in recent times. The valleys are there for the taking, but Plaid in its current incarnation will do well to tread water.

        1. I remember the snide arguments used against Dafydd Wigley, such as, ‘he gets excited’ and ‘he loses his temper’, and yet polls showed that this did not affect his popularity, in fact, many people preferred a politician who had blood in his veins. But of course it sealed his fate with the grey men and women who control Plaid Cymru. And we’ve all seen how successful it was to remove him and replace him with a man who was a small town solicitor and should have stayed a small town solicitor.

  16. But you’r making the mistake of all critics of the national movement that we have seen over the last 100 years, Jac bach! Blame Plaid! Blame Cymdeithas! Slag other nationalists off. We have 10% support lets fight amongst the 10%! Fuck working together in an attempt at persuading the 90%!

    Divide and Conquer, is an old Brit Nat trick which seems to be hale and hearty amongst the Welsh National Community at present, sadly supported by you, Royston!

    1. Alwyn, the question should be, ‘Why is support at 10%?’ It’s because after 90 years of trying Plaid Cymru is a total failure. As John Dixon said last Saturday, we need a more broadly-based movement.

    2. dafis

      hello Alwyn You are so right to focus on divide and conquer but you are looking at it from the wrong direction. Some of us on here have become disaffected/disillusioned by those who got into positions of power and influence within the movement and now driving it to a blind alley and possible destruction.

      The way in which Gwilym was pilloried for stating an evident truth was wicked, even 14/15 years later Plaid leaders were twitching at the thought of having to confront demons raised by the “white settler” issue. Racism ? No it was a legitimate defensive remark that was pilloried by the real racists whose classic deflection tactic was allowed to succeed by the Plaid leadership of that time. Do the present shift have more backbone – don’t think so.

      Elsewhere we have the long term fixation with funding. Yes we are a relatively poor nation, but if we continue to focus mainly on maxing out on claims on UK and EU funds we will remain in relative poverty. That Plaid leadership is loaded with graduates in diverse disciplines but no one among that lot has made an impact in the business world. I think the last big hitters were Wigley and Ap Gwilym, with almost everybody else coming from a public sector or academic background – well equipped to spend money but no track record of making any. Today we go into 2 campaigns armed with not much more than begging bowls. There is no evidence that any of that current leadership devotes much time to radical thought on the social/economic front, just refining of existing public sector interventionist folies, in a sad attempt to “out-left” the dinosaurs of Labour. Stay on board that crock – no thanks ! Maybe Dixon and the YES movement can start some new thinking among interested folk, but those diehards at the top of Plaid will be most reluctant to dump their “thought leadership”

      1. Big Gee

        A lot of home truth sense there dafis – you’re absolutely right. Wigley and the likes of ap Gwilym were the very few that I can recall when I was on the NEC who had ANY sense and knowledge of how the real world works. The rest, like Cynog Dafis, Ieuan Wyn, Rhodri Glyn, ‘Hairy Melon’ Jones et al along with the other ‘academics’ and a few tree huggers and a lot of the Triban Coch mob lived in cloud cuckoo land. Sadly that’s the way it continues up it’s own blind alley. A lost cause unless it wakes up from it’s trance. That’s why I couldn’t even contemplate darkening it’s doorstep again.

        1. But to a certain extent haven’t us nationalists who have complained that Plaid is part of the establishment, without creating a viable National movement outside the establishment helped UKIP and British Nationalism?

          What pisses me off most about those of us who criticise Plaid Cymru is that we are over concerned about the 5% who vote Plaid, and tend not to give a shit about the 95% of our compatriots who don’t know what the Welsh National cause is! The 95% is the target – the 5% is arguing about how many nationalists can stand on a pin head!

          1. That’s what I’m saying. This is why Ukip is so successful in Wales – because Plaid just doesn’t appeal to enough people. And I’m not even sure it tries.

  17. A Black

    Jac what has happened since the General Election, the kippers have fought a number of by elections, and have failed to take a single seat, in fact they have only defended 3 successful, thier percentage of the vote has dropped sharply, and are at the bottom of the table.
    Whilst you’re statistics are correct they are not up to date.

    1. But as I keep reminding people, Ukip has been undone by the FPTP system. In May’s Assembly elections they will gain seats through the Regional List system. All polls show this, all political commentators accept it, the question is, how many seats? My latest prediction here was 10 seats and the most recent poll put it at 9. First Past the Post elections are no guide to the Assembly elections except in the number of votes gained, and even then it can be misleading because in May everyone will have two votes, which obviously doesn’t apply in other elections.

  18. dafis

    I tend to agree D.T’s comment above somewhere ( 22.21 on 23/02 ) – “….. anyone who views a former commodities trader as the advocate of the common herd and sees Islam in Wales as a threat, when 1.5% of the population here is Muslim, has more than a problem with eyesight…..”

    However the grim reality is that the political values and judgements of a significant and possibly growing slice of ( the myopic/blind) electorate share that ex trader’s vision. It might begin to lose its gloss when they see the standard of candidate put up in Wales, ranging from the Anglo rejects like Hamilton and Reckless to local bully boys who can possibly count memberships of NF, BNP , BF etc in their political past. That said they will have short term impact this year mainly due to the concurrence of the EU issue, which will spill over into the Assembly election with very strong possibilities of regional wins.

    My overriding concern in all this is that UKIPers have been able to acquire a highly visible presence mainly because the other parties have been sleeping on the job. My preference would have been to see Plaid either in government or actively harrassing the ruling party(ies) but most of the last 16/17 years have been spent pissing into the wind arguing whose design for a bigger begging bowl works best.

  19. The Earthshaker

    Good blog Jac and a good discussion, plenty to agree and disagree with, my comments a bit lengthy as well.

    There as are almost as many reasons for voting UKIP as there are voters, but here some thoughts.

    The pollsters and academics tell us UKIP voters tend to be older, white, less educated, employed in manual jobs and are anxious about their future, when you compare that to the demographics in the Valleys you start to understand the appeal of UKIP trope that its all the foreigners taking your jobs and stealing you future guff.

    Also at every election I’ve been aware of for the last 20 odd years the number 1 priority for Valleys folk in surveys and on the doorstep is jobs or the lack of them, for them and their kids. So when Labour talk about creating good jobs and does sweet FA, it allows UKIP to come along and say the reason for you inability to get a job is these Poles and other foreigners taking you jobs its chimes with their experience, how flawed.

    Racism is also part of the reason for backing then and there is a strong anti-EU feeling despite the billions spent. Most people I know think what been provided, (revamping community centres, repaving town centres, training courses and apprentice schemes) are things the local council or the Welsh or UK government should have been providing anyway and don’t understand how much worse things would have been without that cash.

    I also agree UKIP is the acceptable face of the far right and a useful stick to beat Labout with and with the BNP folding they’ll get voters there to. UKIP will get regional seats in May and we shouldn’t forget the BNP came within 2,600 votes of getting list seat in North Wales in 2007; far right politics in Wales is not new.

    But my worry with UKIP is yes they’ll provide plenty of ‘entertainment’ and easy stories for lazy journalists and they’ll undoubtedly undermine the Welsh Assembly (although Labour are doing a cracking job on their own), but they’ll also start turning us against Welsh self rule altogether which suits the establishment and the BBC. I can’t stand the venal, parasitic Labour scum who rule Wales but even they’re preferable to mouth breathing, rote leaning, careerist kipper trash.

    Anyway on to Plaid, as Gwilym said Plaid Cymru does have a track record of attracting voters in the Valleys and of good Council leaders like Pauline Jarman and Lynsey Whittle. It’s easy to forget that Plaid ran Caerphilly Council until 2012, Rhondda Cynon Taff council until 2004 and Merthyr Tydfil under Dafydd Wigley in the 1970’s; perhaps the problem’s sustaining the gains rather than not attracting voters.

    Thinking about it in 1999 after Plaid did so well in the Assembly elections, UK Labour then flush with cash set up two offices in the Rhondda with full time staff to win the seat and Council back and Plaid simply couldn’t compete. Labour also launched the Welsh Mirror an abortion of a news paper, anti Welsh in every sense and full of stories with every old trope about Plaid you could imagine, fascist leanings, language conspiracy you name it. It worked a treat in 2003 Labour won the paper was scrapped.

    Another reason for Plaid Cymru’s lack of votes in their invisibility down here, in Blaenau Gwent, Merthyr & Rhymney, Pontypridd and Torfaen they don’t have councillors and there’s not enough party members to canvass for them at election time. Without that basic infrastructure and platform in place why would you expect people to vote for you? Especially when in election survey after election survey voters say they are more likely to vote for party they’ve spoken to on the doorstep or at a stall in the town centre.

    Alwyn’s right about the divide and rule tactic, but Plaid Cymru never seem to learn and that where the frustration come in. Its entirely possible that Plaid could be in fourth place as the SNP start a third term in Holyrood. The party’s been in freefall since Dafydd Wigley was stabbed in the back and the leadership under both Ieuan Wyn and Leanne seem oblivious to that or how to engage voters all over Wales not just in the Valleys.

    Perhaps I was a bit hasty dismissing the Yes Cymru lot, if they can start making things happen maybe Plaid will follow, stranger things have happened.

    1. As far as I’m concerned, at the moment, Ukip is a bundle of laughs, getting the self-righteous Left in a lather, scaring the shit out of Labour, and exposing Plaid’s lack of appeal, especially in the Valleys. It’s great entertainment and I don’t mind giving them publicity in order to annoy those I’ve just mentioned.

      Another reason not to get too worried is that Ukip, a single-issue party, should have a limited shelf life. If the referendum vote is for Out, then for Ukip that’s the job done, and if the referendum says Stay, then most Ukip supporters will accept that the issue is settled and drift away.

      Unless (as I’ve already suggested) Ukip can carry on as a new far Right party. The BNP with a pint, a fag, and a hail-fellow-well-met guffaw. This transformation is not so implausible because the issue that makes most people vote for Ukip is immigration, and that’s not going away no matter what the referendum result.

      If that does happen, and if Ukip continues to enjoy similar levels of support in Wales, then obviously my attitude to Ukip will change. As the established far Right party it becomes the perfect target to aim for in order to discredit English rule, explain white flight, etc., etc. I say that because there are out-and-out loonies in Ukip just begging to be exposed. (Worse than the ones you already know about!)

      But unless or until that re-birth occurs, and for as long as Ukip is putting the shits up all those individuals and political parties I detest, I shall sit back and enjoy the show. Because it’s bloody hilarious!

    2. Big Gee

      There’s not a lot I can disagree with there Earthshaker.

      The only addition I would make is the makeup of many who consider themselves “Welsh” in the valleys. They have very little knowledge of our history as a nation, and believe that ‘Welsh’ culture is based on the hybrid (Anglicised) culture that has developed in the south since the second wave of in migration to the coalfield at the turn of the twentieth century. Their natural attraction to Britishness & how they view the English monarchy is evident to all (re. the lovely post war pictures of street parties and Union Jack flags plastered all over the place, and hordes of little schoolchildren excitedly waving at royalty when they made the occasional visit) It is the natural norm for them – they are the ones who would vote for Tom Jones (born Thomas Jones Woodward) or Shirley Bassey when asked who was the most important people born in Wales. Of course in recent times that tendency has been heightened and extended thanks to the propaganda of the British (English) media

      It is not their fault per sey there is a reason for it and, as I’ve said previously, it goes back to the culture of those who came in from England to work in the pits. It is an ingrained part of their psyche, because they are the descendants of those workers. For that reason they ofen have difficulty grasping what it’s all about when we talk of ‘Welshness’, nationalism and independence – or even the Assembly. That knowledge has not been passed down to them by their parents/ grandparents, and certainly not through their schools – unless they went to a Welsh medium school where some of the teachers there might have instilled a little of of the truth into them.

      There always have been pockets of core Welsh families in the valleys – they are mostly the descendants of those who came to work in the pits during the first wave of work migrants from other parts of our own country. Those were the ones who supported Kitchener Davies & co. and more recently the Geraint Davies, Jill Evans’ & similar recent Plaid people. Years ago they were easily recognised as the ones who attended the Welsh Calvinist chapel, as opposed to their neighbours who arrived via a different route and worshipped in the English Wesleyan chapel or a lesser minority who went to church (along with many colliery managers & officials). It is more difficult to distinguish the groups today, except possibly by their volting paterns

      At the risk of sounding tiresome, I again suggest that this problem could be reversed and wiped out if we had the correct education system in place.

      http://sccambria.com/essays/erth-add_saesneg.htm

      A basic understanding of our country’s history, culture and linguistic roots is missing from these people’s knowledge – it is not their fault. Consequently they see nothing wrong with voting for UKIP because UKIP may appeal to their immediate needs, and their work fears rooted in xenophobia. A lot of the Irish workers who settled in the coalfield experienced similar hostilities towards them years ago, because they were viewed as foreign job stealers.

      Voting for UKIP for this group can also be viewed as a protest vote. Once UKIP melts they’ll all go back to voting Labour.

      I think I’ve now said enough on this subject . . . . .

      1. The Earthshaker

        Thanks for replying Gwilym, I read you link and passed it on last time you posted it should be compulsory read for AM’s and MP’s.

        It’s difficult to fully disagree with the hybrid idea, but i’d call it English language Welsh culture instead, a culture that’s lost confidence and been in retreat since before the mines closed in the 80’s and is slowly being swamped by Britishness. Politically the Valleys are frozen, the majority under 40 don’t vote and reviving Wales means connecting with them in all parts of Wales, that’s the challenge for all parties.

        I very much agree that welsh history need teaching in schools, its still shocking to me that Valleys folk I work with and friends of mine don’t even know a bit of local history. A group of us went to the Merthyr Rising festival (mainly for the bands and music) last year and most had no idea of the raising of the red flag, Dic Penderyn or the reason for the rising itself- what hope is there if even Labour history isn’t being taught.

        You also touch on something most ignore when talking about the Valleys and that’s they are small c conservative in outlook after decades of poverty, worklessness, strikes, political defeat and social breakdown that feeds into the UKIP despair offer as well. Immigrants are to blame for you troubles is an easy answer to long term economic woes.

        UKIP probably will lose steam after the EU vote, but they’ll still have been elected to the Assembly for 5 years and can cause no end of harm to welsh democracy, the endless splits and spats before a candidate has even been chose are a sign of what’s to come.

  20. Stan

    At the risk of sounding a complete numpty I’d like to add a comment.
    The intellectual debates on Jac’s excellent site often go way beyond me but I love tuning in and feel privileged that there is somewhere I can turn to to see these arguments and theses laid out for me.
    I was brought up in the Neath Valley having moved there while in Primary School via Kent and before that Bridgend, where I was born.
    No-one speaks Welsh in my family with the exception of a nephew who went to “Welsh School” and is bilingual but I have never heard even speak it.
    But my whole family class ourselves as “Welsh”. After all, every one of us for generations has been born in Wales and most of us will die here too. Neither me nor my siblings can help the way we were educated with Welsh as a bit player in our education. Mam and Dad studied French instead in school (none of their parents spoke Welsh) and what was sauce for the goose became sauce for the goslings likewise.
    Like lots (most?) people, a large number of my family have no interest in politics whatsoever. But nearly all of us vote at main elections but rarely local ones. I don’t know what my wider family vote but I suspect it is Labour. Not necessarily because they identify with Labour’s policies but more to do with the fact that where else would they put their cross.
    Tories – who in the ex-coal mining communities would admit to voting this way even if they did? Lib Dem – aren’t they these oddballs who are all social workers and have beards and they once had a dodgy leader who hired a bloke who shot Rinka? Then Plaid. Bunch of “Welshies” who aren’t really the same as “us”. Would have us all speaking Welsh as a first language and close our pubs on a Sunday and make us go to Chapel instead. I know these comments are extreme and are stereotypes but really, I’ve lived in these communities and this is what it boils down to for lots of people.
    For me, late now in life, I really regret not being taught our Mother tongue and I wish I was fluent rather than just have the command of a smattering of words and phrases. But I’ve a strong gut feeling there are thousands and thousands of people just like me. Totally disillusioned by all politics and politicians but particularly in Wales by the Labour Party. There has been nothing but Labour in many areas such as mine. If places like NPT are what we have to show for it then God forbid they should hold power for even another week. I must be missing something because surely there is a golden opportunity for another political party (PC?) to appeal to the likes of me and these many thousands like me – so why do we feel untapped for our vote and what exactly is Plaid’s message for me? In the last local elections in NPT there were four seats that no-one contested Labour at all so they were gifted these on a plate.
    I’m sorry this was so long but this has come from the heart. For Christ’s sake, will someone in our political world grasp this nettle because there’s an opportunity going begging for whoever is brave enough. Don’t let the old Order steal what should be your inheritance. Get off your arses and offer me some hope for my future. My vote is waiting for you.

    1. What I’ve argued consistently is that Ukip is now strong in Wales because it was able to step into a vacuum. A vacuum created by people turning away from Labour (or wanting to) but finding no other party attractive enough to support – until along came M. Farage’s Merry Men. This, I believe, is what you’re saying, Stan. And it’s what others know, but, for various reasons, would rather not say.

      1. Anonymous

        Plaid Cymru claims to be a nationalist party but it does not operate in a full nation. The assembly has Mickey Mouse powers compared to other nations, so where is this nation? Where are the other Welsh institutions associated with nationhood, where are the discussions on their establishment? Plaid don’t have their eye set on independent nationhood in the future either. They cause confusion and therefore distrust with these contradictions and are actually a divisive party because people can sense they are going nowhere on a fundamental level. At least UKIP might actually affect something even if you don’t love them, and people like to feel like their vote counts towards something even if that something isn’t ideal.

        1. dafis

          Agree with the first 6 lines of your comment – spot on summary of Plaid’s “predicament”/malaise, call it what you will.

          UKIP will only ever offer Anglo centric “solutions” although a good dose of cost reduction (which they allude to, more than promise ) by getting rid of pet projects and 3rd sector scams would be nice preparation prior to a renewed push for independence.

          1. Anonymous

            I agree, anglocentric to the core. Though I don’t think you can underestimate the allure of backing a group that are portrayed like they are going somewhere, as helped along by the media. Even if in reality their policies are not that relevant to your interests. Similar to when people wear the sporting tops of ‘winning’ teams from other countries.

    2. Brian

      Great comments, before devolution I had dragons on everything but over the years feel Wales has changed so much I no longer belong here, Cymryfication of everything. Most people I know are Welsh but they don’t despise being British even if it isn’t openly visible, that’s why I believe UKIP does well in east Wales just the same as it does well in any other similar area of England, a welder in Wrexham has more in common with a welder in Bolton than a farmer in Gwynedd. I don’t agree that UKIP votes and who ticked what on a census form are relevant in any way.

    3. Y Ddraig Las

      “Bunch of “Welshies” who aren’t really the same as “us”. Would have us all speaking Welsh as a first language and close our pubs on a Sunday and make us go to Chapel instead.”

      Haha, that reminded me of this video on Sunday Opening from Pontarddulais back in 1961…

      1. Y Ddraig Las

        Here’s another old clip. The views of Merthyr residents on dubbing films into Welsh on HTV from 1978, just a year before the first devolution referendum.

        Some of the responses creased me. People are much more pro-Welsh language these days but these attitudes remain.

        1. There’s a proto-Ukip type at 8:05 (complete with moustache). “Disgusting” he says, “Cowboys speaking Welsh” . . . “entirely wrong”. Two points for the benefit of a man who is almost certainly no longer with us.

          A: There were Welsh-speaking cowboys, and many of them. And many more ‘cowboys’ of Welsh descent, such as Frank and Jesse James.

          B: Great films are dubbed into many languages. Can you imagine a Russian audience walking out of the cinema or switching off their TVs because they think that cowboys speaking Russian is “disgusting”?

      2. I knew it was them conscientious objectors responsible for Sunday closing.

        I remember I was in Harlech for a later vote and Ron Hopkins (originally from Aberdare) who ran the Castle and the Queens in Harlech and the Ship Aground in Talsarnau (all owned by his local wife), convinced himself that Sunday closing was a communist plot hatched in the Kremlim. Ah! happy days. Cheers!

      3. The pontificating ‘Mr Jones’ at 4:32 strikes me as one of those of whom we have too many in Wales, a smug bastard who likes the sound of his own voice but doesn’t listen hard enough to what he actually says.

        He seems to believe that the pubs in Carmarthenshire were shut on Sunday because of diktats issued by those in “the top half of Wales”. In reality, Carmarthenshire’s pubs were shut on Sunday because local people had voted for it. And one reason for that was that the chapels could mobilise their vote but too many of those he claimed to represent couldn’t be bothered to get off their arses.

        And I loved the inferences to ‘Welshies’ because everyone interviewed was Welsh and I guarantee that most if not all of them spoke Welsh. I suppose this takes us back to the 57 varieties of Welshness. Though Mr Jones was clearly a Gogophobe.

        Just before the cheesecutter-topped Mr Jones appeared we were entertained by a shoneen, replete with dickie bow and pencil moustache, who worried about what “our English friends” were thinking. If there’s one phrase guaranteed to make me laugh, because it betrays both the political disposition and the psychological hangups of the person using it, it’s “our English friends”.

  21. Stan

    Yes. Very succinctly put. I think UKIP has benefited on two fronts, as follows:

    The disillusionment (or vacuum as you say) in politics and politicians generally. Along come an outfit comprising some rather odd and disparate personalities, many of them deeply flawed, but still they attract the vote of the common herd. I believe Farage himself must take the credit for a lot of this, unpalatable though many may find it. Without him I doubt they’d have scaled such heights in terms of votes.

    The second front is that of Europe and the world beyond. This is basically UKIP’s trump (only?) card, the xenophobic one, and it is very much in the public mind with the huge immigration figures year on year, and the more recent Syrian (and wider) migrant crisis. Once the EU Referendum settles the issue of our membership one way or another, I wonder what further success they might have in the polls.

    Personally, I find UKIP a one trick pony that I think people will eventually get tired of seeing the same trick played over all the time.That’s why I see such opportunities for others to step in and seize the moment.

    1. Big Gee

      I think you’ve summed up UKIP pretty accurately there Stan. I’m of the same opinion, after the referendum (one way or another) UKIP will be on the heap. Having put all their eggs in one basket and having been lucky enough to get a character like Farage as their charismatic mouthpiece and marketing tool (we have to concede that he IS charismatic in a vulgar sort of way & does particularly well on debating platforms), he and his party will disappear back into the woodwork.

      As they haven’t developed any policies and have no credence on other topics apart from ‘Euro bashing’ then it will be too late to develop anything after the EU issue is sorted.

      “They were an entertaining side show distraction whilst they lasted” will be their epitaph.

      However – as you rightly say – what they have exposed is a vacuum that exists – possibly a nationalist one in Cymru, that someone should step into. Contrary to Plaid’s belief that we are all born with a Labour tattoo on our forehead in Cymru, we are in fact a nation of conservatives (with a small ‘c’) BUT with a highly defined sense of fair play, social justice, equality & identity for all – a bit like Plaid was under the leadership of Saunders Lewis, that is before they got high-jacked by the loony leftists under a pseudo Labour ‘socialist’ flag.

  22. Brian

    Some great points being made here, especially from Big Gee. At risk of getting myself blocked I identify as a Welsh person Who’ll be cheering on Wales when we play England even though I regard “Welshies” as more alien to me than say scoucers, can promise you most people in NE Wales look east culturally than west but call them “English” and you risk a punch in the mouth. Wales is very diverse from within I’d say people 20 miles or so each side of the border are far more alike than those further east or west, this isn’t so in Scotland which was once a fully fledged nation in its own right. I don’t see any change ever happening in Wales without an Irish style split, with all the good will in the world I’ll never be Cymry but you can’t say I’m not Welsh.

    1. Big Gee

      An interesting point you raise there Brian. When Jac, Owain Williams (the current president of Llais Gwynedd), John Humphries (retired editor of the Western Mail), Basil Thomas (retired head of the European Patents Office) & moi, got tpgether under the Independent Wales Party flag in the early naughties, guess where the backbone of our support came from? The eastern areas of Cymru, predominantly the Gwent valleys & the Wrecsam areas! The very places where you would expect less nationalist ferver, but not a bit of it – those people were desperate to be counted as Welsh Nationalists, (some even had Polish surnames) and felt totally let down by Plaid. There’s a lesson there somewhere!

      The party described it’s aims and methods as being:

      “People voluntarily organising and pursuing their aims by peaceful political activity freely associating together according to the provisions of the Party’s Constitution. The party is non-sectarian and inclusive of all people who consider themselves Welsh.

      Our aim is to secure full Independence for Wales as a democratic and sovereign state ensuring economic prosperity and social harmony for the people of Wales and safeguarding our common Welsh heritage, language, culture and identity”.

      A pity that we never managed to get properly off the ground. Who knows, under that sort of flag we might have been able to forge a more united Cymru than we have in 2016. Now we have to debate the ins & outs of an English Nationalist Party on our soil – UKIP.

  23. kenny

    Having read all the comments above, i agree with alot , but disagree with many points raised. I should explain that im born and bred here on ANGLESEY, am welsh speaking ( first language ) i think in welsh, i even dream in welsh, been a member of plaid cymru all my life.have lived in hope that i would see the day that our country ( wales ) would be freed from the shackles of the english establishment. im a great admirer of DAFYDD WIGLEY, he was the person many of us thought would and could lead us from oblivion, indeed he led plaid to gaining five members of the english parliament, a position we thought at the time we could build upon, sadly as was mentioned, he was stabbed in the back by people he trusted. Many were disillusioned after that, some left, others just couldnt be bothered, we had infighting here on the island, and other parts of wales im sure. Having said all that, when leanne put her name forward for leader, i got exited again in politics. I had followed her career for a long time and liked what i saw, what she stood for, thats why i voted for her as leader. I,D been saying for years that we had to somehow connect with people in the valleys of south wales, to show them that we,re not a party for welsh speakers only, that the crachach dont speak for every member of plaid. I firmly believe that leanne is the right person, i,ll back her to the end if i have to. But i also agree that we need to do many things differently, the SNP have got it right, we need to learn from them, Please dont knock leanne, give her a chance, rome wasnt built in a day. I think its unfortunate timing for plaid as a party that the problems with europe, and the immigration situation has arised at this time, ukip are playing on people,s fears im afraid, as its been said, they are a one trick pony, that pony soon gets tired of doing the same trick, then it will time to look for another pony.It makes me feel sick to the stomack that english nationalists could be present in our assembly. I would like to thank everyone for their comments, which i,ve read avidly Even at sixty yyears of age, i feel i,ve learnt quite a bit.

    1. Glad to have you here, Kenny, we have some ‘spirited’ debates and frank and open exchanges of opinion. Because – I hope – we all want the best for Wales; which for me means keeping the best of what we’ve got and ridding ourselves of those and that which does not serve Welsh interests.

      You quote what’s been said about Ukip being a one-trick pony, and I tend to agree, but the ‘one trick’ is immigration (‘Europe’ is just code for it) and little will change no matter what the result of the referendum. That’s why I fear Ukip could survive the referendum and become the acceptable face of the far Right and English nationalism.

  24. dafis

    Tarian at 22.00 on 25/02 strikes two issues smack on the button –

    1. assimilation, when he describes earlier influx of working people into the South Wales industrial communities. They came, they merged, some even learned the language through intermarriage and living cheek by jowl in crowded housing. Today’s influx, indeed that which has arrived since c.1950 has become increasingly strident in inflicting its values, culture etc on the host communities – “I can’t stand the local accent” being one of the more polite refrains.

    Hence the problem of colonisation that Jac and others have hammered on about.

    2. In tandem with that colonisation we have the residual effects of over a century of Anglicisation through the education system. I have written before about my own early years where only Welsh O level was taught through Welsh, and subjects like history were taught with Anglo centered themes ( King & Queens, industrial revolution driven by British engineers etc ). You had no chance of exploring Maths or Sciences through the medium of Welsh, yet other countries seem to do well in those fields.

    Since 1960’s there has been a steady growth in Welsh medium education, but it somehow still smacks of niche, fashionable, and in some areas elitism. Not for one second would I advocate ditching it, but Welsh medium learning needs to get stuck in to its communities in a far less apologetic, more assertive way. It is better – so let every youngster have access. Take a “slower” kid from another school and bring him/her up to a higher standard. Word soon gets around and suddenly it’s a practical solution worth getting into.

    When we reflect on all this and much that’s been written over recent years it is evident that the current shambles derives from an increasing momentum in the corrosive effects of factors driven by government and its agents – the social dilapidation caused by shifts of economically inactive Anglos into Wales, with attendant criminality and demand on health, social services and “justice” services,
    – “tokenist policy from central and local government which do little to genuinely promote the language, and cause suspicion among native non speakers.
    – absence of coherent opposition committed to change. Plaid has “gone along ” with much of this, engaging in tinkering around the edges when in reality a demand for root and branch change would have been far more credible, with some clarity as to the content of those alternative strategies and policies.

    Finally Kenny – you say don’t knock Leanne, well she is in a position where she could be now be well on her way to taking big bites into this challenge. It appears , however, that she is advancing on a path of fantasy politics, ably assisted by Elin, HMJ, & others, all schooled in the arts of “giving” but no idea how to fund these ideas other than by taking the proverbial begging bowl to London and Brussels. So, I can’t see the merit of prolonging that bit of pain.

  25. Martin

    I rarely (almost never) agree with Jac but find the discussions really interesting.

    It does seem that a mixture of English retirees, and valleys Welsh people vote for UKIP. Like Jac argues, they are a true ‘national’ party in the way they have a broad appeal.

    I wouldn’t agree that Plaid Cymru ‘standing up for independence’ would have the same broad appeal, or has had to date.

    I do completely agree with the sentiments around Dafydd Wigley. Plaid has simply never recovered since him. Let us not forget that he actually played down independence, rather than emphasised it. It wasn’t the main reason for Plaid’s relative success at the time, as a bad leader who played down independence wouldn’t have gotten away with it. He was confident.

    Leanne Wood on the other hand has been more associated with independence; but has some support even among people leaving comments on a right-leaning and non-Plaid blog. Why? Because she is hard working and whatever might be said about ‘Guardianistas’ or ‘left-wing’ matters, she is genuinely of her community and of course, will beat UKIP in the Rhondda because of a mix of local roots and TV coverage. Plaid will potentially not beat UKIP elsewhere in the valleys, even where it has outspoken nationalist candidates like Lindsay Whittle. Believe it or not, some would be UKIP voters will go for Leanne because they trust her.

    Finally there does need to be a realisation that EU membership and European immigration into Wales are serious issues. There was a poll out last week which suggests foreign immigration was the biggest issue here. And no, there isn’t a concern about English immigration outside of specific Welsh language communities. Plaid Cymru simply does not agree with the public on these issues, and on EU membership has more pro-EU voters proportionally than any other party. The same latest polling suggests Welsh-speakers are more pro-EU than those who don’t speak it. Plaid Cymru genuinely believes in the EU and it is very hard to see how they could reach out to anti-EU voters, and there are lots of them. I’m not slagging Plaid off for this- if they really and genuinely believe in it, what else can they do? But they and their supporters must accept that holding pro-Europe principles in this day and age has an election cost, because there are plenty of parties competing for the pro vote, but not the anti vote.

    Alot of Plaid’s problems are down to Welsh public opinion simply not agreeing with Plaid’s fundamental beliefs. Contrary to alot of the comments on this post, Plaid hasn’t really changed its main messages that much over the years. Maybe we think they have in our world, but to the public Plaid still stands for Welsh language and independence.

    1. Brychan

      Both Dafydd Wigley and Leanne Wood have had real jobs working in the factories of the South Wales valleys. Real people. Neither were ‘plastic candidates’ drawn from the ranks of political advisers, third sector spivs, eco-good-lifers, barristernistas or university hangers-on. They are able to capture votes from people who don’t give a shit about political parties but want someone to stand up for real communities, regardless of race, religion, language, or background.

      1. dafis

        to split some hairs – only got a few left, so may have to be yours – I think Leanne only worked in a factory while a student , got her degree and sped off to do social work / public sector . Good for her, but it did not leave her with any lasting urge to drive the nation’s recovery by focussing on improving its economic activity. Ability to squeeze funds out of assorted EU and UK in the forms of aid, grants etc seems to be the primary “economic” skill which is all well and good if a secondary client status satisfies her ( and our ) ambitions.

      2. Martin

        I reckon that’s fair enough but Leanne Wood did go Uni as well and cares about “ecological” issues, though she doesn’t make them forefront in Plaid’s releases. There’s also nothing wrong with being from uni. Adam Price for example went to Harvard and is academic and intellectual, but he has kept his local roots and is authentic. You can be an intellectual if you know how to campaign as well. Wigley was a man of the people but extremely cultured and sophisticated. People respected that and didn’t mind being led by a slightly posh quite old man, because you could tell he was a campaigner. Wigley also did alot for the sometimes derided “charity sector”. I sound like an evangelist for him but he was the real deal.

  26. Oenlli

    AS a welshman from Pen Llyn ( we are all proud- always hated the ‘proud Welshman tag) am enjoying the debate , agreeing on the Plaid failiure, fascinated on the immigration ecosystem of the valleys ( though find too much in history on the influx of workers to areas, and not enough on them leaving again to pastures new- Irish miners to Cornwall, to Wales to New Worlds?). Am also a hanging vote, as it were, lost to Plaid , never to vote Labour because of my belief they are all about the South, and apart from Leyton, am mortified by what characters they roll out, in total disbelief that the Liberal party make no atempt to try , in the stronghold of Lloyd George! Where am I heading? Well where most voters will be, not to the mam with the fagg and a pint, but just for a pint – another vote lost to all. As a point on the side, there is an interesting push amongst a few here in North Wales , that we would be better off to. Split from South Wales, and join with the Scoussers- a sort od Wales and the Marches thinking – interesting topic?

    1. Daley Gleephart

      Estate Agents are ahead of you on this. Wrecsam and Flintshire re-named West Cheshire.

      1. dafis

        sad thing is that a lot of local residents seem to like it that way. Up market scousers with limited ambition and bags of petty snobbery.

    1. Martin

      This is the link mate : http://blogs.cardiff.ac.uk/electionsinwales/wp-content/uploads/sites/100/2013/07/February-2016.pdf

      So for Welsh Assembly constituencies, Plaid Cymru and Labour voters are noticeably pro-Remain in the EU compared to Conservative and UKIP voters. I am not saying this is a good thing. These are the 19% of people who already vote for Y Blaid. But if Labour’s remaining voters are majority pro-Remain,
      Plaid should be able to take more of them….but they don’t.

      So based on the evidence you can see that leaving the EU is a really big factor to also vote UKIP. There’s alot of people on thjs thread going on anecdotally that UKIP voters are pro-Welsh and patriotic, and as
      Jac says some of them must be. I agree. But my argument is Plaid cannot win on the EU question when it comes to UKIP voters or to European immigration. It probably also can’t win anything on English immigration outside people who already vote Plaid.

      When Jac says about Plaidistas being on a moral high horse sniping about UKIP, lets just remember that alot of Plaidistas don’t like UKIP’s Britishness and have a genuine pro-EU stance. I am not being a smug bastard, and i’m not saying its a winner! But they really believe in the EU stuff.

      1. When I talk of Plaidistas getting on their moral high horse I’m alluding to a wider problem on the Left. It’s the way that too many socialists tend to look down their noses at what they consider to be uneducated people who support right wing parties and politicians, because in their view only stupid people support the political right.

        I’m not saying that it doesn’t apply to the knuckle-draggers in the EDL or the BNP, but when you to try to extend that view to millions of decent people simply because they hold different views, then it becomes patronising and insulting. Also wrong.

        It can be seen now in the USA where the liberal media is in hand-wringing mood about ‘rednecks’, ‘racists’ and all sorts of monsters supporting Donald Trump – because in their view only such people would support Donald Trump. Yet those who support Bernie Sanders are ‘enlightened liberals’.

        What those I’m criticising fail to see – or maybe are just afraid to admit – is that Trump and Sanders attract very similar voters, those who are rejecting machine politics, political dynasties, and others they blame for the problems affecting them.

        It’s a phenomenon sweeping the Western world. People are pissed off with professional politicians, their banker friends and all the others they hold responsible for everything from the financial crisis to immigration to ISIS. And it doesn’t really matter which way they jump, right or left, because this isn’t really an ideological issue, it’s about who provides the most persuasive narrative.

        And it explains everything from Jeremy Corbyn to Donald Trump.

        1. Completely agree with you there Jac, and I’m probably far more radically left-wing than any in Plaid or Welsh Labour! People do feel that the mainstream left-wing politicians ignore them and their concerns. We all know that immigrants are an easy target, and a convenient scapegoat, which needs to be challenged, but the fears leading to such xenophobia and scapegoating also need to be taken very seriously indeed and addressed. The appeal of UKIP then would largely evaporate.

  27. Mabon

    I know this is hypothetical Jac, but if every constituency was 80%+ Welsh speaking, with most being first language Welsh, and if English colonisation was minimal, how would Plaid Cymru and UKIPs support levels differ?

      1. Brychan

        Actually in the last European elections (to take the two extremes) in Blaenau Gwent Ukip got 4300votes (an expected 30%) but in Gwynedd Ukip got 5780votes (an alarming 20%). I don’t think it’s language. It could be argued that ‘incomers’ to Gwynedd are the ones who vote Ukip but what’s happening in the eastern valleys (Welsh identifying but English speaking) is that Ukip are stealing votes off Labour.

  28. Brian

    Too much is being read into what boxes people ticked while rushing through a form they didn’t want to fill in a few years ago. In my experience Welsh people don’t like enthusiastically admitting they’re British but there’s a subconscious acceptance they are, UKIP isn’t an English nationalist party though no doubt there’s some in there because they have nowhere else to go.

    I believe people in Wales who vote for UKIP for exactly the same reasons as they do in England and its as simple as that.

      1. Brian

        Well written and entertaining as it is there’s an element of denial on this blog, maybe its because I live near the meaningless border in the east of Wales where things are obviously different.

Now what do you have to say?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.