The Humpty Dumpty of Welsh Politics

It was sad to see that Dafydd Elis-Thomas's recently professed conversion to independence for Wales is based on a very idiosyncratic version of what independence actually is. On CF99 yesterday evening he said this:


"What I want to stress, in connexion with Wales, is that the only independence that is possible to any country in the 21st century is an independence which is co-dependence in a federal Europe, and therefore to transform the United Kingdom to make it part of a federal Europe. That's not very different from what I've been saying for years."

This is as complete a perversion of the idea of independence as it is possible to get. Why should independence for Wales only be possible if the United Kingdom is part of a federal Europe? The EU is not a federation, it is an organization of twenty seven independent member states. In terms of its organization, policies are primarily determined in the Council of the European Union, in which the individual heads of government (or sometimes other ministers, such as the finance ministers) of each state hammer out agreements. And even though the EU Commissioners have a good deal of power, they are all nominated by member states.

Our independence has absolutely nothing to do with what the EU may or may not become in the future. Perhaps we will see a federal Europe, but I very much doubt it. Are countries like France, Denmark, Portugal or Poland going to give up their seats in the United Nations and other international organizations to a single representative from a federal Europe? Of course not. Each of them realizes the benefits of being an independent state and isn't going to give that up. Tying Welsh independence into the idea of a federalization of Europe is almost guaranteed to make it less attractive to people in Wales rather than more attractive. Though, come to think of it, that might well be exactly what Dafydd wants.

What Plaid Cymru wants is for Wales to take its own place alongside the other independent nations of Europe, with the same status as each of them already has now. Wales' independence is simply not affected one way or the other by the future direction the European Union might take.


Dafydd is a victim of his own vanity. The only honest reason he could possibly give for his professed support for independence is that he has changed his mind about it. But his ego won't allow him to do it. That's why he has to twist his outspoken opposition to independence in the past in order to try and get us to believe that what he's saying now is "not very different from what I've been saying for years".

As Lewis Carroll put it:


It's pathetic. In Dafydd Elis-Thomas we have our very own Humpty Dumpty. Not only is he living in a make-believe world of his own, he's mastered the scornful tone to go with it.

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Anonymous said...

Eh? What's he saying? I would vote for DET if he only came out with a clear short sentence for independence, which what one would expect of a leader (or just lowly member) of a nationalist party, for heavens sake!

Dafydd, we tried the 'federalist', we're not nationalists, independence is so 19th century line in 2011 and it didn't work. In 2007 we were lucky cos Labour was weak. We lost seats in 2003.

By now I think Plaid members need to approach DET as an animal approaches a poisonous plant. As the animal instinctively know that the plant will kill it. It's a matter of self preservation. DET will kill the party.

Dafydd El has made a huge contribution to Wales and the language but we need leadership ... and he's not giving us clear leadership. It's basic stuff.


Dewi Harries said...

Leanne made a mistake going on the programme. Difficult for a Welsh learner to be subtle or profound. She should have been translated.

Anonymous said...

His position, as is his vanity, is practically indistinguishable from Peter Hain's!

Anonymous said...

Dewi - I think Leanne in Welsh was more fluent and effective in Welsh than Elin is in English. DET Equally slimy in either language. I think she won many friends by making the efort.

Anonymous said...

I suggest you might compare the facebook pages of the three candidates. There's a striking difference between Leanne's and the other two.

How meaningful that is, is another matter.

I thought that Elin and Leanne were dignified. Neither made any attempt to interrupt.

All the online polling I've seen, such as on Jac o North, and Cambria Politico, show Leanne far ahead. Also who performed best on CF99:

Anonymous said...

"I think Leanne in Welsh was more fluent and effective in Welsh than Elin is in English"

Come off it. I don't understand people who attack Elin's English - she comes across well and has a charming Cardi accent.

Anonymous said...

DEL made progress on Sharp End today.
I believe he stated that he would support an independence model that the SNP has proposed - and surely that is what we want?

Anonymous said...

"I think Leanne in Welsh was more fluent and "effective in Welsh than Elin is in English"

"Come off it. I don't understand people who attack Elin's English - she comes across well and has a charming Cardi accent."

yes once you get beyond the "ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh............." in every sentence. I'm sorry she is not a leader, she comes across as a teacher or a careers worker, but not a leader of a party, not to mention a nation. If she gets in, or the dark lord for that matter, they will remain for a short while, whilst presiding (no pun intended)over a further fall in fortunes for the party, to be eventually called in for a curry, before Adam Price takes over.
The fact is, to be serious. DET is not capable of uniting the party and the country. The small n nationalists of the south where I live would not countenance backing a guy who revels in his Lord status and would therefore stick with Labour donkey voting. Elin is too parochial and west walian, she will be seen outside the remaining fragmented parts of Welsh speaking wales as a standard example of Welsh Speaking Plaid. In other words the party for welsh speakers.
Leanne, did a sterling job in a second language last night, but was hampered by her lack of first language cut and thrust (as would anyone) the Leanne Wood in her natural language (eventually languages) is sufficiently statesmanlike and eloquent, whilst coming across as her roots are, as a person of modern, two language Wales.
FACT. Soon, Plaid will lose the western strongholds by virtue of immigration, after Gwynedd falls, there will be nowhere else to go, unless breakthroughs have been made in the industrial south and east, which is where Plaid must concentrate. Caerphilly is eminently possible, with ground work as should be the Cynon and Rhondda valleys, but parochial crachach from the north and west will not break through into these areas.
Dwi yn dwad o Sir Fon yn wreiddiol gyda llaw!

Anonymous said...

Agree with everything in the above post! as a monoglot english speaker from SE Wales i feel very impressed that Leanne had not only the guts to do it but by all accounts ive read say she held her own very well 8-)i would think most people wether English or Welsh speaking would have been impressed i'm sure!
Loved the dark lord lol!

Anonymous said...

Anon 00.04

I agree with your school teacher or careers worker comment (I've seen another blog describe her as the 'Sali Mali' candidate) but her English is fine, she just lacks leadership.

I'm not sure about Leanne's 'left-of-Labour' approach. Just look how many people in Pontypridd and Merthyr voted Lib Dem at the last UK election.

I'm from the Rhondda btw.

Anonymous said...

Having seen Elin on Question Time, where she was terrible, sadly, it's clear to me that she has no projection or charisma. She's hesitant, her sentences are contorted , and she looks blinky and stuttery on TV. Pity, but there it is. Th eproblem with Leanne, whom I also admire, is that part of Plaid's problem over the years in Soiuth Wales has been messing around with student and gesture politics. The Valleys vote is not ideological left, but conservative left. They don't care about Chavez, Catalonia, and those endless reference points of the pre-Blair Left. They're pragmatic and traditionally Labour, even when, as is the case, it's an endless disaster for themselves. Out-lefting Labour is a loser's game, because there is no radical vote of any size to mine. DET is smooth and about as trustworthy as a fox in a box. Whatever they choose, Plaid are going to struggle. Add to this their almost suicidal tendency to wash their dirty washing in public, and to systematically lose or get rid of their best people (Wigley, Nerys Evans, HMJ) in order to land themselves with AMs who are a mix of student politicians (no names) and overpromoted councillors, and those of us who've been in the party for years have every right to worry. It's going to get worse before it gets better.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it the case that the Lib dems have actually overtaken us in Pontypridd and Merthyr by positioning to the left of Labour?

And their slump now gives us an opportunity to reclaim that?

If we had done better in those kinds of seats we might have been looking at 2 regional AMs for SWC not just 1.

Plaid Cymru simply is left of Labour on almost all of its policies. It always has been. It's not that difficult. Doesn't mean we have to go around saying that or using that line. But it's true and it's time to be comfortable with ourselves and push our agenda at all levels.

Anonymous said...

Interesting that 09;27 Anon uses some of the same reference points that an anonymous Labour source used in their backhanded compliment of Leanne. She's obsessed with Chavez, Catalonia etc.

The Tories are not a threat to Labour. The only concessions since devolution that have been forced on Labour are from Plaid Cymru. Plaid has to be a leftist party in a modern and relevant way- NOT the same as Labour or the Lib Dems.

Anonymous said...

"The Valleys vote is not ideological left, but conservative left. They don't care about Chavez, Catalonia, and those endless reference points of the pre-Blair Left. They're pragmatic and traditionally Labour, even when, as is the case, it's an endless disaster for themselves."

Completely agree.

Anonymous said...

"Isn't it the case that the Lib dems have actually overtaken us in Pontypridd and Merthyr by positioning to the left of Labour?"

No. They attacked Labour from the right - attacking corrupt Labour councillors, supporting small businesses, town centre regeneration etc. Socially egalitarian, centrist politics.

Anonymous said...

The South Wales Valleys are not a radical haven. anti-Tory sentiment in the valleys has more to do with a quite conservative dislike of middle class Englishness that is also shared by many in rural Wales. People would vote for a centrist/centre-right party providing it was Welsh in spirit.

Anonymous said...

"No. They attacked Labour from the right -
attacking corrupt Labour councillors, supporting
small businesses, town centre regeneration etc.
Socially egalitarian, centrist politics."

I wouldn't describe the above as attacking from the right. The point is about about fighting on a platform of job creation and regeneration, ideas that the Leanne Wood and Adam Price school have articulated in far greater detail than anyone else. At a substantive level, this means left-leaning policies, centred on an enabling and activist state facilitating both private and social enterprise through which individuals and communities can empower themselves. It is right-wing neoliberalism which has failed both business and workers accross the Valleys and accross Wales. Whether such an approch should be branded as "left-of-Labour" is a seperate question. What is clear is that the right have nothing to offer.

Anonymous said...

I'm anon 9.27, and I've got bugger all to do with the Labour party. I've campaigned and canvassed for Plaid for over 10 years, still do.
My point is that out-lefting Labour on what are essentially symbolic issues (i.e refusing to attend the queen's assembly opening) has not worked because - as a strategy, rather than a matter of principle, which I share, incidentally - it's a serious mis-identification of where our votes come from. Being a 3rd party to the lib dems in the very areas where we should be putting the wind up Labour is evidence of that. If we don't deal with this and comprehend what it implies, we are in for a long and possibly irreversible bout of wilderness. I'd also remind you that we are nowhere near a constituency seat in any of the places where our Leftism is most pronounced, and yet those constituency seats are held by what is nominally at least a Leftist Party - Labour.
Our futur is centre left social democratic nationalism. I think that Leanne can help us with that, and is the best of the 3 candidates, but there will be work to do on the centrist front or we will lose our only safe constituency seats with no perceptible gain in the South.
The sooner we understand that, the sooner we get back in the game, which at the moment, we're not.

maen_tramgwydd said...

Anon 00.02

Re: Sharp End

I think it was a helpful programme, which covered a fair bit of ground and without much interference from the host.

I tried to watch it objectively, even though I had already made up my mind how I'm going to vote.

Leanne came out on top. Her answers were clear and unambiguous. She was dignified, and had a manner and charisma which I think has the potential to appeal to a lot of ordinary people in Wales. She didn't put on airs, and avoided convoluted language. I think she will appeal especially to younger voters.

Elin, articulate and confident, did well although she didn't project herself enough. She lacked Leanne's charisma. She displayed a measure of gravitas, coming over as politician who must be taken seriously. Her performance in English was not as good as it was in Welsh on CF99.

DET has a lot of experience, as he kept reminding us of his time as PO. It's not a trait which I find endearing. He was articulate, but lacked clarity of thought, and even expression. He seemed to think on the hoof. If I heard him properly, then what he said regarding independence last night was rather different (yet again) from his utterances on CF99. I don't have a link to the programme so I can't remember exactly what he said. He appeared to support independence for Scotland, as long as it retained the monarchy and the pound, in line with SNP policy. He didn't much elaborate on Wales, perhaps because he was long-winded and ran out of time.

I'm left not knowing where he stands on the most important goal of his party. Goodness knows what he'll have to say about it tomorrow or next week, let alone if he becomes leader.

It's clear that under DET Wales would be saddled with the monarchy, as we should have, 'our Prince of Wales' - Charlie appears to be a favourite of his. He made no reference that the issue should be decided by the people of Wales, post independence, which is Plaid's policy.

His passion for nuclear generation is undiminished. He interrupted the others on the issue, when they tried to state their views and party policy which is against nuclear generation in Wales.

It seems he favours two new nuclear plants in North Wales, one in the middle of Eryri - the only inland site in the UK - in a very beautiful part of Wales. This is at a time when control of energy resources and generation lies at Westminster, not in Cardiff. Apart from a few construction jobs, Wales would gain little long term benefits, whilst bearing all the risks and the hazards.

Leanne and Elin are capable of leading the party imo. Where Leanne has the edge is her potential for achieving an electoral breakthrough which the party has largely failed to make under other, less charismatic, leaders.

It is impossible to know how a leader will perform in the role, and there's always an element of risk in any leadership election. Plaid members have to choose one of the three and must balance the potential gain against risk.

I think it's time for the party to step out of its comfort zone. It isn't exactly spoilt for choice in this election - it can either look forward or take a step back.

Last night's programme confirmed my choice.

Glyndo said...

"yes once you get beyond the "ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh............."

You're having me on, if anyone was umming and arring and stumbling on Sharpend it was Leanne.

Scrutineer said...

"No. They attacked Labour from the right - attacking corrupt Labour councillors, supporting small businesses, town centre regeneration etc. Socially egalitarian, centrist politics."

How is that right-wing? Social egalitarianism and town centre regeneration conflicts with centre-right politics. Town centre regeneration in any meaningful sense conflicts with the capitalist right of big business to develop out of town retail. Social egalitarianism inevitably requires either collective or state involvement. Unless you mean it like IDS' "Centre for social justice".

The problem with Plaid is that many people are not politically literate or aware what centrism is, what democratic socialism is, and so on. This contributes to their identity crisis, because independence on its own isn't enough to keep a party going through the transitional periods.

Anonymous said...

One thing I would criticise Leanne for Yesterday is that if I were her, I would refuse to be labelled 'left wing' in the way that she allowed herself to be. I would talk about shared Welsh values of fairness and co-operation, (the same thing, but less likely to frighten the horses. These values transcend geography - the 'liberal' traditions of our heartlands who are deeply suspicions of 'socialists' actually share the ideas of equality and community enterprise - which really encapsulates Leanne's philosophy far better than 'Left Wing' does.

Apart from that, she won hands down. Elin came across as a decent person, but neither intellectually nor charismatically equipped to lead the party, let alone Wales. If the contest was to be won by measuring self regard, then DET would win hands down, but thankfully, it is decided by the members.

If you want to see the difference between Leanne's well thought out plan for how we gain support, then independence, look HERE and DET's grand vision for his elevated status in the enhanced principality, read HERE.

Can't find Elin's master plan at the moment, as my computer is running rather slow, but I'll come back with a reference when I've tuned up the old cyberbeast.

Anonymous said...

To Anon 9:35 and 9:45 ...The LibDems benefited in Pontypridd from a maverick candidate and the Labour Party launched a very negative campaign against him, which included bullying, and smears. This actually played to LibDem's favour. It's Plaid who need to show some grit. There is one appeal I would make to DET and Elfyn, and that is when the Labour Party in Rhondda try to scare Plaid supporters from putting up placards because of the need for 'planning permission', stop us canvassing old peoples homes due to 'council covenants', and Labour councillors asking coppers to stop Plaid members entering the count, we need heavyweight legal and constitutional figures to intervene and stop Labour bullying our supporters.

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