Friday, 27 January 2012

Wales needs a Party of the Left not another Centre right one.

Gwion Owain, the Chair of the Dyffryn Nantlle branch of Plaid Cymru. has written an article on Click on Wales attacking the Left in Plaid Cymru,  arguing that they promote polices that "are trapped positions that have little resonance with the real world of the electorate".

Gwion writes....
I believe that Plaid has rooted it’s socialism more in the intellectual rather than real issues that concern the everyday voter. This can be explained by the over-reliance on policies based on the community and environment rather than those that appeal on an individual level. Contrasted with Labour’s ability to gain the support of those dependent on public services and the welfare system Plaid has wrapped itself up in the Guardianesque politics of the intellectual left. Any textual analysis of Plaid policy documents will lead to this conclusion given the reliance on policies aimed at the community level and the preponderance of policies addressing sustainability and environmental issues.

What is so bloody wrong with being on the  Intellectual Left notwithstanding the Guardianesque jibe. It is reminiscent of people being accused od being a dogooder . Though why this is worse then a dobadder or donothinger is beyond me.

Actually I no longer read the Guardian switching to the Independent because it seemed more in line with my progressive left thinking.

Gwion may have a point on the resonance with the Welsh Public. But  at the moment the idea of Welsh Independence attracts only a small percentage of Welsh Voters  . Should Plaid abandon this because its currently receiving the support of anything like a majority of the people of Wales? Of course not because this is a core belief. Similar  the Blaid should have  a idea of what an  Independent Wales  will look like and be prepared to argue for this even if the vast majority of people are as yet  not enthusiastic about.

That is what Political Parties are about . The shame of the Blair years was the emphasis on focus groups to find out  what the public wanted and shifting policy to meet this . Nothing wrong in listening  to the public, but Political Parties must also argue for what they stand for and be prepared to go on arguing this even if this is rejected until they win through otherwise whats the point in having any beliefs?

Green leader recently committed on question time on Labour's s  recent  move to say  Labour government would not be in a position to commit to reversing the Conservatives' cuts by saying that "Britain doesn't need  another Tory Party"

There has been arguments over Plaids unique selling point (USP) being Independence. But (and I know its an oxymoron) . Why can't we they have more than one USP.

Its all well arguing for Independence . But what sort of Wales will we have .

A mini Britain with 3 or 4 political parties with no real ideological differences all focusing on a dwinderling number of people who vote (whilst wondering why this is) at the beck of call of big business and the banks. Who set thew policies for them.when they are in government.?

Or a beacon of progressive government galvanising the whole of Wales ?

Gwion Owen's article however is clearly  attack on Leanne Wood in particular he writes

Leanne Wood’s leadership election vision makes much play of community ownership of the means of employment. However, Plaid ought to consider very hard before succumbing to the superficial temptation of unrealisable abstractons at this point in it’s history.
What would be unacceptable for a Independent Wales to carry on a system of unfettered Capitalism which as seen our communities from Gwion'sDyffryn Nantlle to Leanne's Rhondda open to the a market that sees successful companies with a hardworking workforce simply move production to another country .Because Labour cost are cheaper and they can make bigger profits   in order that the directors can achieve larger bonuses

Gwion also write..

 There are plenty of further examples of the manner in which Plaid haslocked itself into a certain type of socialist viewpoint which has very limited appeal. We could include the recent debate in the Assembly on smacking unruly children and the impassioned speeches from Plaid members, dismissed by Andrew R.T. Davies as “emotional nonsense”. The nature of these leftist positions have v
Surely sometimes politicians should take up a cause simply because they believe in it . Not because it is popular.. Was abolition of the Death penalty popular? Women's rights over divorce? Gay and Lesbian rights?

The call for the release of Nelson Mandela  "very limited appeal outside the liberal political class" but once he was released it seemed nearly  everyone had believed it it all along

They took place because courageous  politicians fought for them. Politicians should not ignore  a cause simply because it is popular . They should do what they believe is right.

As Caroline Lucus might also have argued . Wales does not need another Tory Party.


  1. This is the issue when people are given platforms online to sound off without providing any evidence for their assertions. Nobody in the contest has drawn left-right battle lines, and the unity has been impressive. What a crass article. Plaid did loads of non-intellectual, bread and butter stuff from the left in government. Built thousands of cheap homes, saved thousands of manufacturing jobs (bailing out the workers, not the banks), kept the forests in public hands through Elin Jones. It was the most left-wing government Wales has ever had but it was in a way you could hold out achievements that meant something to people. The problem was not communicating that impressive track record. Wales needs a Welsh left party that can speak in both intellectual terms and woman-on-the-street speak. I'm not even going to bother noting which leadership candidate can manage that, because its now blindingly obvious.

  2. Gwion makes raises some interesting points with which I have some sympathy.

    However, Plaid is electing a leader, not deciding party policy.

    I totally disagree with Gwion's conclusion that Elin Jones is the best candidate to take the party forward.

    Her election would ensure that Plaid would continue in its present rut, mainly because she is in the mould of previous leaders. Moreover, she lacks voter appeal, charisma and dynamism.

    Leanne posesses those qualities and has the potential to make the required electoral breakthrough, which is why I'll be voting for her as my first and ONLY choice.

  3. I don't think that Glyn's response to Gwion is a fair response. Gwion did not suggest that Plaid should shift its position on the political spectrum. What he suggested is that it should shift the way in which it delivers its message, and I agree with him.

    To give a non political example of how I read, Gwions post:

    As a Christian, how could I best persuade you to come to church next Sunday?

    A) By advertising a 2 hour lecture on dialectical theology
    B) By advertising a discussion on the best way to offer practical help to homeless people as an example of Christian sharing?

    If you are a committed Dawkinist, neither approach will appeal, but if you have no particular view either for or against the church, the second option might appeal to you because you agree that offering help to the homeless is good in itself; and that may give me an opportunity to persuade you of the merits of dialectical theology; but I suspect that even the most committed churchgoers would jib out of option A

    Now change dialectical theology in the above example to Community Socialism!

    My reading of Gwion's article wasn't that he was opposing Plaid's Left Wing Credentials, just asking that the left wing ideology is explained in bread and butter terms rather than in "ideological" terms and I agree with him.

  4. Alyn I agree that dry dialectical lectures on politics or theology is a turn off ( It is to me actually) but But Leanne commitment to community ownership of the means of employment is not an a example of this.

    The current Parties in Westminster have no solution to the deprivation in our communities only the hope that if we encourage private enterprise there will be a trickle down effect. It is not working.

    What also will not work is and i'll grant you this is the sort of centralist socialist planning that you hate.

    Centralism does not work either on the Left right or Centre.

    But community socialism is not the same and offers a different solution to central planning that favours only the City of London.

    To my mind this a practical measure and she seems to me to be a practical politician who however is prepared to put ideas forward that can if presented well and this she does can resonate with many who are disillusioned with the mainstream response to the current crisis. Recent reports on co-opratives in wales appear to show that she's on the right track.

    To dismiss a idea just because it does not fit into the mainstream political is plain wrong.

  5. Co-operatives could turn out to be just another branch of the third sector; simply funding jobs in unprofitable industries. And stuffed by trendies who view them as socio-economic experiments, or political statements, rather than serious businesses.

    In fact, that's my prediction.

  6. Jac.

    That's the challenge but the experience of the Mondragon corporation in the Basque country where it is currently the seventh largest Spanish company in terms of asset turnover.Should serve as a role model . In fact it should have nearly 30 years ago when the idea was first taken up in Wales.

    I would have thought every Welsh Nationalist or anyone with the interst of Wales in mind would like to see successful companies owned and run by the people of Wales.

    Its time we took up this challenge and offer a new vision.

  7. Jac - of the building societies that de-mutualised, not a single one remains independent and solvent.

    It is Northern Rock, TSB and Halifax (and their successors) which are now funded by the State. It was these who were "stuffed by trendies who view them as socio-economic experiments, or political statements" whilst the mutual societies were regarded as old-fashioned and boring.

    Also, it is large "inward investment" projects seemed to get massive subsidies.

    A privately-owned business (such as a co-op) only has to be concerned with keeping customers and staff happy, not "share-holder value".