Vote Plaid Cymru


5:00 pm - March 30th 2010

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contribution by by Ceri Ames, as part of Hagley Road to Ladywood‘s pre-election series.

For the first time since 1992, this year I will be casting my vote in a UK general election in Wales. In 1992, despite some reservations, I voted Labour, hoping that they would form a government. This time round I will vote Plaid Cymru, and while there may not be any great breakthrough for Plaid, I suspect that many ex-Labour voters will act like me.

There are two main factors influencing my vote. The first is my despair at Labour’s policies. Whatever lip service New Labour has paid to its leftwing over the years, and despite the pitiful attempts recently to shore up its traditional support, it remains committed to the policies that have predictably failed over the last 13 years.

Plaid offers the kind of social democratic policies that Labour shed in the years leading to power, such as a commitment to reining in the power of the financial sector, greater employment rights and the creation of worthwhile jobs, and a more progressive tax regime.

Of course, Plaid will never be in a position to implement these policies from Westminster (even a conveniently balanced hung parliament would allow a few concessions more likely to involve issues regarding increased Welsh Assembly powers or overall funding), but a vote for Plaid will strengthen its position, and show both the U.K. and Welsh Assembly governments that Welsh opinion is to the left of the U.K. political mainstream and in favour of pursuing policies based on these views thorough the Welsh Assembly.

As well as this, there is a more general reason for my vote, that of creating a more accountable democracy.

The current disillusionment with political parties and politicians will negatively affect progressive politics more than the right. A more responsive, smaller scale, devolved polity can help to combat this cynicism. The more power is devolved, the closer individuals and communities are to the decisions that affect their lives. One of the key issues in Welsh and Scottish devolution was the 18 years of Tory government that essentially had no mandate in these countries, and key decisions were made by these Governments, or worse, by one man appointed by the Government.

Whilst I wouldn’t suggest that the Welsh assembly is the answer to these problems, it is a vast improvement on what went before, and could be a step in the direction of a healthy, more participatory democracy for Wales.

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Reader comments


My constituency goes between Labour and Plaid so I decided to take a proper look at Plaid – their policies, blogs, candidates etc. and found that there is a right wing presence within the party and also a significant racist presence. And I don’t particularly like their policy in favour of culling badgers – not because it’s cruel (which it is) but because it’s ineffective. Therefore they won’t be getting my vote.

Hi ceri.

Are you a member?

Enjoyed the article, well put. But I certainly feel it does not do plaid’s offering justice.

Plaid mps have an excellent reputation in Westminster. Adam Price is one example. We also fighting on a programme for Westminster, so while I agree on your comments, the assembly is one part of our offering.

Will offer a full comment when I get to a computer.

“And I don’t particularly like their policy in favour of culling badgers – not because it’s cruel (which it is) but because it’s ineffective.”

Surely this is an issue for the National Assembly Elections, seeing it is a devolved matter.

@1 you wrote: “there is a right wing presence within the party and also a significant racist presence”

I don’t know that much about Plaid as a party, being Scottish… but criticising them for being right wing when the alternative is “New” Labour sounds disingenuous to me. I’d also need to see your evidence before I accepted that Plaid tolerated the presence of racists.. so lets see it!

As for their polict about culling badgers, altho I happen to agree with you that it’s wrong headed WRT eradicating TB etc, it’s ONE policy… if you would genuinely decide who to vote for on the basis of that one issue, I think you have your priorities wrong!

My local Plaid candidate is English born Muslim Farida Aslam. A former Labour member who realised they lost their values a long time ago.

we were out canvassing for her today, young and old Welsh speaking and non Welsh speaking with different political views. But in support of progressive social democratic Welsh government.

I take issue with the first comment. Plaid is NOT a racist party. We are a party that welcomes all, from all sections of society who live and work in Wales. It is true that we are a broad church like most parties, but I would say that we are a left of centre party, and this is reflected in our progressive agenda through the work of our MP’s in Westminster and in the National Assembly for Wales. We offer an alternative to the London parties, as we do not have our masters in London, away from the people. We are grounded in communities, and work to protect public services, developing the economy, and improving the way Wales works. It is up to us as a Welsh party to inspire people all over Wales that Plaid Cymru is their party, that Labour left them years ago, and that the Tories will not deliver for Wales.

7. Shatterface

Well, the badger culling won it for me.

Stripy-faced fuckers.

I’m going to vote Plaid Cymru – Plaid Cymru for Pitsea South!

I just can’t take seriously nationalist parties in developed democracies like the UK. Like the SNP, Plaid may have a role to play in representing a broadly left-leaning constituency across Britain in the devolved parliaments/assemblies and in Westminster, but at the end of the day what motivates them is not progressive social democracy but Welsh independence and the division of Britain. I have a general antipathy for people who think culture is or should be intertwined with politics and administration.

That said, parties for stateless nations are good partners of Greens and progressives in Europe and in the UK, so rather them than New Labour.

“but at the end of the day what motivates them is not progressive social democracy but Welsh independence and the division of Britain”

Rubbish.

Firstly – surely they are not mutually exclusive?

If you think about the One Wales Government actually programme of policies, it pretty clear the brand of social democracy it professes.

Free Prescriptions
No PFI in the health service
Free Bus Passes
Free Hospital Parking
The foundation phase in education
No school league tables
Well regarded environmental policies
A committment to produce double our energy needs from renewables
Free Laptops for school children (currently in pilot)

Added to this Plaid’s wider policies include;

Supporting a high pay commission
Having a 50% on earnings over £100,000
Ending Child poverty
Consistent support for a Tobin type tax
Raising the income tax threshold
Support of STV at all elections
Scrapping trident
Pulling out of Afghanistan
Providing a more comprehensive support system for veterans

If we are talking about a ‘progressive social democracy’, which on a personal level sums up my politics, then Wales’ is probably uniquely placed to bring that agenda forward. In cynical ideological terms, Wales would be centre left.

Now I dont support independence for Wales based on it being potentially a centre left politics, but to argue that an independent Wales is not concurrent with a progressive Social democracy is not in touch with the reality. Plaid support decentralist social democracy, its written in its constitution.

And its not separation – its about Welsh people having the ability to govern itself, it is a progressive, positive and inclusive view on Wales.

@9

I doubt the nationalist Parties here or abroad are much interested in convincing people like you to take them seriously. Whether you like it or not, they are now a serious alternative. On the one hand you criticise them for having a role in promoting “a broadly left-leaning constituency across Britain” (pity the Labour movement wasn’t doing it eh?), then you complain that they aren’t really interested in that, they just want independence.

If the Union is fractured, the main responsibilty will lie with the Unionists themselves. I’m not that familiar with the Welsh case, but in Scotland the rise of nationalism (and “Nationalism” with a big n) is a response to the fact that more and more Scots are convinced their aspirations are better served by separation than the status quo.

The language question obviously isn’t as big an issue in Scotland as it is in Wales, Catalonia or the Basque country – but don’t underestimate the power and influence of a feeling of community, shared history, and yes even culture on contemporary political debate.

Nobody is suggesting that xenophobia or sectarian nationalism are to be encouraged. However, don’t be too ready to accept that an antipathy for the negative aspects of nationalism mean that Plaid Cymru or the SNP can be written off, or relegated to your rather condecending role of “supporting actor”.

The Tories (from being the largest party in Scotland in the 1950′s) reaped the whirlwind in Scotland of being seen as an “English” party. Now Labour are in opposition in the Scottish parliament because they are no longer seen to represent the kind of communitarian principles most Scots hold dear, and see as distinct from the values espoused by Thatcherism, Blairism or Brownism.

Something else for you to think about, is what happens in England if Scotland (and/or Wales) does become independent, or more devolved, to the extent that their representation at Westminster is reduced? Would you be happy with the in-built Tory majority the “rump” English parliament would have? No?… I thought not!

“Now I dont support independence for Wales based on it being potentially a centre left politics, but to argue that an independent Wales is not concurrent with a progressive Social democracy is not in touch with the reality.”

To clarify, I of course support independence for Wales, but not because ‘we can be more left wing here’.

“My local Plaid candidate is English born Muslim Farida Aslam. A former Labour member who realised they lost their values a long time ago.”

Ah, Plaid Islam – I’ve heard about them. There’s an impressive march by this group through the centre of Newport on Youtube. Take a look – it’s a fine depiction of the future for Wales.

Galen,

Thanks – great post, this stuck out.

“Something else for you to think about, is what happens in England if Scotland (and/or Wales) does become independent, or more devolved, to the extent that their representation at Westminster is reduced? Would you be happy with the in-built Tory majority the “rump” English parliament would have? No?… I thought not!”

The thing is, I am fully supportive of England having devolution, if it is does in an equitable manner to Wales. I am chuffed when I see this argument brought forward by progressives in England. My position for wanting independence for Wales is positively pro-English democracy – as Adam Price once said on Question Time – English independence is a great idea.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sp2mxuL5I5w

At the moment in Wales we are about to have a referendum on merely allowing for us to have the power to make law on already devolved areas (ie – areas that only affect Wales). While I do not play down the importance of it, it is a piecemeal reform in what is a dogs dinner of a system.

“Ah, Plaid Islam – I’ve heard about them. There’s an impressive march by this group through the centre of Newport on Youtube. Take a look – it’s a fine depiction of the future for Wales.”

Eh? Firstly, that is a (former, now a tory) Plaid AM on a march, not a Plaid march itself.

Secondly, the video was done by the ‘Welsh BNP’. Those bastions of truth givers!

Why is anyone shocked that Plaid Cymru (or the more obvious Scottish Nationalist Party) have right-wing elements? They’re bloody nationalist movements, so will (if not hijacked) obviously incorporate a variety of political opinion. When was nationalism ever likely to equate to exclusively left-wing (originally typed socialism there, then realised quite where that was going…)?

@14 Marcus

Thanks..glad you liked! Sounds like we are in violent agreement m8 ;-)

As an expat Scot living in England, I agree that English independence is a good idea. I’ve always thought that (from a Scottish perspective) devolution would eventually lead either to full independence, or a federal system which left so little for the “UK” Westminster parliament to deal with that it would increasingly come to be seen as an irrelevance.

I’ve come to believe that independence for Scotland and Wales is probably for the best, and would in fact be a good thing for England too. The problem is that most English people still define themselves as “British” and have a fairly stunted sense of their own nationality in comparison to most Welsh, Scots or Irish people.

As for the Welsh gaining a proper parliament rather than a watered down assembly…..more power to their elbow’s!

“Ah, Plaid Islam – I’ve heard about them. There’s an impressive march by this group through the centre of Newport on Youtube. Take a look – it’s a fine depiction of the future for Wales.”

“Eh? Firstly, that is a (former, now a tory) Plaid AM on a march, not a Plaid march itself.

Secondly, the video was done by the ‘Welsh BNP’. Those bastions of truth givers!”

Damn them fascist cameras! The march, of course, was carried out by true patriotic Welshmen and it was just the BNP’s clever editing that made Newport it look like Islamabad.

I used to live in Newport, and even now live on the Cwmbran/Newport border. Your view does not match the reality. You can also be a proud muslim and a proud welsh person.

You are defending the BNP’s use of media. Words fail me.

Galen

“The problem is that most English people still define themselves as “British” and have a fairly stunted sense of their own nationality in comparison to most Welsh, Scots or Irish people.”

Indeed. I think there is the beginnings of a genuine attempt for a non-racist vision of English identity, which I welcome. Mark Perryman is a good example;

http://whatenglandmeanstome.co.uk/?p=274

The problem in England is that it has to a large degree been cornered by the BNP, or at least people wont touch it for fear of being labelled racist.

The English should be proud of their identity as an entity aside from the UK. To me the notion of the UK is one that is increasingly looking alien to many. Devolution is a process, not an event and all that.

I like how people here seem to have deluded themselves into thinking that more than a small minority of people in Wales actually want independence.

Hi Alun.

I have never argued that, do you have any actual evidence of your initial claim?

Consistent poll support is for further devolution in Wales. The direction of travel etc..

@21 Alun

I don’t think anyone specifically addressed that point. It’s true that only a minority may want it now, but things change. I doubt many people until recent years thought the SNP would form the Scottish government.. even if it is a minority one!

Even if they don’t want independence.. I bet more than a small minority want some form of devolution. In the Scottish case, I’d argue that the failure of the unionist parties to deliver any meaningful devolution before the late 1990′s, and the disasterous attempts to impose Thatcherism on a self-identifying community which didn’t want it, are the biggest fillip Nationalism has ever had.

Marcus – You appear to be suffering from a very strange type of naivety. How on earth can a Muslim be a proud Welsh person?
Look – To Muslims, ( even converts) Owen Glendower and Cadwallon were just a couple of infidels. All Muslim politicians – whether they pretend to be Labour, Lib-Dem, Plaid or Tory (and as you have already noted, they happily flit from one to the other) – are only really interested in furthering the cause of Islam.
Please wake up. Take a look at Tower Hamlets. Watch the footage of Labour’s Shahid Malik predicting a Muslim House of Commons and a Muslim PM.
These people do not give a damn about Wales! They don’t care about England, Scotland, Germany, Italy or France, either. Come on, do you really think they do? Nations are irrelevant in Islam… all that matters is the Ummah. And they will happily indulge in electoral fraud to achieve their aims ( google 2005 postal vote fraud).
Words fail you? Try thinking things through… oh, and read the Koran. Someone pretending to be a Welsh Nationalist Muslim is just taking the urine in an attempt to get into the Assembly where he/she can further the Islamic cause. Don’t be such a dupe, Marcus.

Look – To Muslims, ( even converts) Owen Glendower and Cadwallon were just a couple of infidels.

I love how you’ve set yourself up as a representative and speaker of all Muslims worldwide.. assuming they all think the same as you. And if they did they say they were proud to be Welsh, Scottish or English – I assume you’ll think they’re just lying.

@ Dave N 24

Why on earth do you assume that no Muslim can be a proud welsh person..or any other natonality for that reason? Presumably you’d feel no Roman Catholic cold be a true Welsh person either….? Your paranoid fantasies about the manichean nature of Muslim plans for world domination would do credit to the Russian anti-semites who invented the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” to demonstrate the supposed dangers of Jewish conspiracies in the 19th century.

The fact that there are more than a few Islamist nutters out there hardly supports your frankly bigoted view that Muslim = fanatic Islamist.

There is a dupe posting here Dave..and it isn’t Marcus!

‘I bet more than a small minority want some form of devolution’

Of course; the number of people who want a return to the way things were before the late 90s is probably not much larger than the number who want independence (which, given how close the referendum was, is amazing). But I disagree with the assumption that devolution = the long road to independence. That’s obviously something that a lot of Plaid members believe (and understandably so), but there’s no reason to assume that this is so, once you accept (if you can) that the constitutional question is not binary.
As far as the experience of the 80s being the greatest boon to nationalism goes, well, yes. Thats obviously true even when ‘nationalist’ is defined extremely broadly. Were it not for the damage that the Thatcher government inflicted on Wales then there would be no National Assembly.

“But I disagree with the assumption that devolution = the long road to independence. That’s obviously something that a lot of Plaid members believe (and understandably so), but there’s no reason to assume that this is so, once you accept (if you can) that the constitutional question is not binary.”

Hi Alun,

Well of course I agree with you on, further devolution does not equate to rising desire for independence in binary terms. Indeed, the only people who do make that argument are the small, vocal minority who don’t want devolution at all.

What repeated polling has shown is that the Assembly is growing in popularity and two thirds want a parliament with tax raising powers. Added to this, a clear majority want the Welsh Assembly and not Westminster to be in charge of a growing number of our affairs. The abolitionists are generally wanting to repeat the same battle that happened a decade ago. Even True Wales accept that this will not happen. Devolution is here to stay, and its final destination is in the hands of the Welsh People.

As a Plaid member, I am comfortable that the direction of travel is on our side. Remember also that Westminster has probably lost any semblance of respect to a good many people as an institution, while the devolved parliaments have been light years ahead in terms of being a modern, responsive democracy. From the voting system, to the expenses to the fact you can literally just walk into the Assembly and view parliament at work. It is comical to see the Westminster Circus froth at the mouth about potential ‘hung’ parliaments. Ed Balls told us all that coalitions dont work and they get weak governments. He might want to remember that in 3 months time that Carwyn Jones could be the most senior Labour politician in Government in the UK – all that in coalition with Plaid.

David N,

“Look – To Muslims, ( even converts) Owen Glendower and Cadwallon were just a couple of infidels.”

So to be Welsh, you have to respect Owen Glendower (a man whose rebellion started after killing his neighbour, and felt burning English towns was a sensible activity…) and Cadwallon (presumably the possibly Northern British (try Cumbrian or southern Scottish, Lancastrian at the outside) ruler who set out to exterminate the Northumbrian people, at least according to the very biased report of Bede, who is our best source however).

That is akin to being English involving respecting Edward I for his violent activities towards all neighbouring peoples. It is not really a very useful way of assessing whether someone is Welsh though, since it is possible to be Welsh and to disagree with historical figures’ actions…

Incidentally, why would Muslims not respect an infidel (purely a religious label). I’m sure that there are plenty of Islamic legends about non-Muslim figures, e.g. Alexander the Great (splits opinion a bit) in the same way that Christians created a positive image of Saladin (in fact a far better one than the general image in the Arab world…). Most of us can recognise a good man, even if he is of a different faith. Unless you are blinded by labels and refuse to recognise humanity?

@27 Alun

Agreed, even most nationalists wouldn’t assume that devolution automatically = the long road to indepdendence, even if that is their desired end. It is quite possible that devolution (of whatever stripe) will be enough for people in wales and Scotland.

The issue surely is how does devolution, even if restricted to Wales, Scotland and N Ireland, affect the general constitutional settlement for the UK? I for one happen to think that Scots and Welsh MP’s sholdn’t vote on legislation which only pertains to England, but would that work if it led to say a Tory majority in England, but a Labour majority in the UK?

Whilst by no means an automatic process, I do think the appetite for more and more devolution will tend to increase support for outright independence. If you have control over most of the levers of power, why not go the whole hog and take ultimate responsbility for the remaining “macro” economic and foreign policy areas too?

31. Planeshift

“I do think the appetite for more and more devolution will tend to increase support for outright independence.”

I think it depends on 2 factors; (1) whether the powers gained are exercised with a greater degree of competence than they were previously, and (2) what happens between a conservative westminster government and a lab/plaid coalition pursuing different policies. I suspect we could well see a tory government trying to remove powers from Wales if they became left wing and popular (see GLC in 80s) but the attempt to do so would increase support for outright independence.

There is also a seperate point to be made here about WAG – in areas where it does have responsibility, it has the advantage of not having its actions constantly distorted and misreported in the press. The Daily Mail basically doesn’t care about what it does. This means it can actually do some sane stuff (and I for one think it has been more succesful than can have been imagined). A lesson here for westminster.

Watchman – your grasp of Welsh history is sadly very lacking – Cadwallon was not a Cumbrian, a Scot or a Lancastrian. He was the King of Gwynedd who defeated King Edwin of Northumbria at Hatfield Chase in 632.
Sunny H – Yes, they’re either deluded or lying. From a Muslim point of view, just what is there to be proud of? You tell me. After all the English, Welsh, Scots and Irish are non-believers ( a greater sin than murder) – and Islam repeatedly forbids Muslims from being friends with non-believers. I think that fact alone effectively prevents them from joining the “proud Welsh” club.
Galen – If Roman Catholics followed a religion that said they could not be friends with their fellow countrymen, put his superstitions before the long established rights of his countrymen and constantly attacked their freedom of speech ( with death threats) whenever his religion was mocked, forced his wife and daughters to dress like Ring Wraiths and Dementors and forced his children to marry first cousins from another continent, I would indeed say that they were not true Welsh.

@32 Dave N

Oh my.. where to begin….?!

Watchman’s potted biography of Cadwallon has at least as firm a grasp on “Welsh” history as yours: given the early date, and questionable nature of the original sources, it a moot point if it makes sense to talk about “Welsh” history at all in the 630′s, as large parts of Southern Scotland, NW England and the midlands were probably still Brythonic.

You seem inacapable of accepting that there are Muslims who don’t hold the extreme views you so blithely attribute to them all, without exception. It’s about as valid as me saying that all Christians MUST obviously follow every tenet in the Bible.

As for your last paragraph… well, words fail me. Even if there are some extermist, Islamic fundamentalists in Wales who hold these views, if they live in Wales (hmmnn.. maybe they were even born there…?), does the fact that their views are obnoxious, bigoted and possibly illegal make them any less Welsh?

You can see where this is going, can’t you….?

re. 16 by Watchman. If you’re going to slag off the SNP at least try to get the name right! It’s Scottish National Party,not “Scottish Nationalist Party”. Yet another example of an Englishman voicing his unwanted opinions on Scottish affairs based on half truths,ignorance and lies! The vast majority of English people I’ve encountered know little or nothing about the Scots or the Welsh and even less about the reasons we want independence from London! If you’re going to voice an opinion then please at least make an effort to know what you’re talking about! Of course we’ll be a lot more left wing when we’re independent,we already are with the limited powers at our disposal!


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  1. James Anthony

    "The more power is devolved, the closer individuals and communities are to decisions that affect their lives." #Plaid http://bit.ly/aEp799

  2. Luke James

    @iamheartshaped I have lost all faith in the Grauniad for ever! Now read this :) http://tinyurl.com/yd2o2wt





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