I'm voting Labour tomorrow

It probably won't surprise anyone that I would never vote for the Tories or for UKIP, but I have seriously considered the others. Under a preferential voting system, my first preference would go to the Greens; Plaid and Labour would vie for second and third depending on the particular circumstances of the election and the quality of the local candidates; and the LibDems would come fourth, although at present their policy of holding a second referendum on Europe (even if for the wrong reason) makes them a rather more attractive proposition than they would usually be.


At present, Wales is part of the UK. At a UK level Plaid Cymru are all but irrelevant. Even if Wales elected 40 Plaid Cymru MPs it would probably not make any difference in a House of Commons that has 650 members.

Plaid Cymru have developed two particular conceits which annoy the hell out of me: that they are the only party that speaks for Wales and that they are the only party that represents Welsh interests. Plaid Cymru will only ever be able to claim that it "speaks for Wales" when more people in Wales vote for them than for any other party. If you want to use that sort of language, the party that "speaks for Wales" is, and has been for generations, Labour. Plaid needs to do the hard work of winning more votes before it can make that claim. Additionally, no party can claim that it uniquely represents Welsh interests. What is in our national interest is a matter of political opinion, and election campaigns are all about presenting different political positions and persuading voters about the merits of each. Even parties like UKIP and the Tories stand in Wales because they believe that their policies are in the best interests of Wales and, even though we might not like it, a good number of our fellow countrymen and women vote for them ... and are no less Welsh because of it. For me, Plaid Cymru's current leadership has given up on trying to persuade people about the merits of their policies, and instead started to go down the very dangerous road of suggesting that some parties (and by implication the people who vote for them) are anti-Welsh.

My advice to Plaid is to give up on this approach and concentrate instead on how and why their vision of what they want Wales to become, and their particular policies for getting there, are better for Wales than those of other parties in Wales.

Plaid's manifesto for this election was cringeworthy. Time and time again they promised to deliver on things which they couldn't possibly deliver .... even if Plaid were to win every single seat in Wales.

In contrast, Labour are a far more realistic choice at a UK level. For the first time in several decades, Labour have put forward a manifesto which will move the UK more to the left. Under Jeremy Corbyn, there is a glimmer of hope that the UK might become a significantly better place in which to live. That's good while we're part of the UK and good if the UK breaks up, because the people of England will always be our neighbours.


I want Wales to be independent for two reasons. The first is that Wales is a nation, and we deserve to stand on our own two feet as a nation, side by side with all the other nations of the world. However I realize that this is a sentimental view, perhaps more a matter of the heart than the head.

But the second reason I want Wales to be independent is that I do not like the political direction that the UK seems determined to travel in. The UK, and specifically the welfare state and public ownership of key sectors of the economy, that our parents and grandparents built after the second world war was something to be proud of. I benefited from it enormously. But over the past few decades it has been, and still is being, systematically dismantled. A Labour-led government under Corbyn, McDonnell and their colleagues offers the hope that this will be stopped, and perhaps even reversed. In my opinion that is worth voting for, although I half fear that it's already too late.

Will Labour deliver if elected? Who knows? I don't think any government achieves everything it sets out to achieve, but it might succeed in changing some things for the better and pointing the UK in a different direction of travel. Perhaps I'm being sentimental in this too.


Being more hard-headed, it is still unlikely that Labour will win tomorrow. To form a government they will probably need a supply and confidence arrangement with the SNP. Perhaps all that voting Labour will achieve is to give the Tories a couple of dozen fewer seats, which hopefully will force the Tories to take their foot off the accelerator so that the car crash which is Brexit will be a little softer.

However, I'm sure of this: if the Tories do form the next Westminster government, it will be a catalyst that helps bring about a united Ireland and an independent Scotland more quickly than would otherwise be the case. If I were more Machiavellian, I might encourage people to vote Tory for that very reason. But it would be like voting to leave the EU knowing that Brexit would make a united Ireland and an independent Scotland more likely. I can't in all conscience do something bad in order to bring about something good. No, I want to be able to argue for an independent Wales as the only way left for us to be part of a society which values public ownership and control of key sectors, rather than ever-increasing privatization and marketization of things that should be held by us all for the common good.

This election might well be the last chance the UK has to reverse its ever-rightward direction of travel and the inevitable self-destruction it will bring. For that reason I will be voting Labour tomorrow. I want to be able to say that I tried.

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WelshnotBritish said...

So you are going to vote for someone who loves austerity almost as much as she likes nuclear bombs. Bizarre.

Anonymous said...

Bizarre is not the word that springs to my mind. Words like "sour grapes" and "bellend" seem more appropriate.

Michael Haggett said...

Yes, I'm voting for Nia Griffith. I think the manifesto her party now has is more relevant than Plaid Cymru's ... and certainly more deliverable. At an individual level she was more impressive in the hustings than Mari Arthur. I'd also note that Labour leafleted better (I received nothing from Plaid Cymru for either this election or the local elections in May) which leads me to suspect that Plaid aren't really taking themselves seriously in Llanelli. My guess is that they've been concentrating their resources elsewhere.

For Plaid, independence is a long term aspiration rather than something that they're prepared to fight for now. When they're prepared to fight for it, I think they'll find lots more people will be prepared to vote for them, including me.

Anonymous said...

Terrible result for Plaid in Llanelli. THIRD. Behind the Tories!

J. Jones said...

Ditto Ynys Mon. On the bright side the Aber students swung it for Plaid.

Anonymous said...

J. Jones. Only a small percentage of Aber students are from wales. The reason Plaid squeaked through was because the election took place out of term time and most of the students in Aber and Llambed are at home in England.

Michael Haggett said...

Because of Ceredigion, it wasn't an entirely bad election for Plaid. Although it does concern me that they "talked up" seats like Llanelli, Ynys Môn and Rhondda that they didn't have a hope of winning, yet didn't talk at all about Arfon where they came close to losing, or Ceredigion where winning seemed to come as a surprise. As I said, I think they knew Llanelli was hopeless because they didn't put any effort into winning it. I can't speak for the resources they put elsewhere.

I'm delighted that Ieuan Wyn Jones lost. Resurrecting him was a mark of desperation, and it was sad to see him on TV saying over and over again that it didn't matter to him what was in Plaid's manifesto, if elected he would do his own thing. Can't Plaid find candidates who actually support their policies?

But, equally, I'm pleased that Ben Lake won. He didn't keep a Labour candidate out, and Plaid are higher up my order of preference than the LibDems. I think it's fair to say that Plaid have a fairly consistent base vote, so how they do in elections depends on whether the larger non-Plaid vote can coalesce around one particular candidate. This time it didn't. It was more evenly split, letting Plaid through.

However I don't have any idea whether Ben Lake supports Plaid policies or is another one that will just go off and do his own thing. Amser a ddengys.

Anonymous said...

I'mm not sure some of your commentators realise how deep the broken student fees promise goes. Those students who have gone through the process and are now in employment have a huge debt hanging over them. Those that are employed and earn over the threshold are seeing a payment deducted every month from their salary cheque. So every month there is a reminder of the broken promise. When they struggle with rents and see the chances of getting on the housing ladder getting further and further away they curse the Liberals. Their parents and grand parents see the pain and the broken promise goes through the generations

TheStone said...

Fat lot of good voting Labour did Wales.Mr Hagget here should know better. However he is right about Plaid being clueless, going in to pacts with Labour has killed the party stone dead. God knows why they thought digging up Ynys Mon Man was a good idea he led the party no where. Plaid needs to fight for independence and have nothing to do with any unionist parties.

Michael Haggett said...

You mention "the broken student fees promise", 19:18, but which one are you talking about? I'm sure you mean the promise that the LibDems broke, but have you forgotten (or did you even realize) that Plaid Cymru also broke their promise on student fees when they went into the One Wales Government? Perhaps that's why the LibDems didn't suffer much backlash for it in Ceredigion, despite all the students in the constituency. On that subject, the pot is as black as the kettle.


Not everything about the One Wales coalition was good, TheStone, for example the U-turn on student fees I mentioned above. But it achieved its main purpose as far as Plaid were concerned, in that it gave the Assembly the two-thirds majority it needed to set up the referendum on primary lawmaking powers. So on balance I think it was a good thing. Yes, Plaid did pay a price for it, but if they had played their hand better they might have paid a far smaller price. The main problem was too little time between the referendum and the Assembly election for Plaid to establish themselves as something distinct from Labour.

In this election, voting Labour did quite a lot of good where it helped keep the Tories out. In many constituencies a vote for Plaid would have helped the Tories, as the Tories were the main challengers to Labour.

I agree with you fully that Plaid needs to fight for independence. At the very least, Plaid's manifesto for the next Assembly election should include a commitment to an independence referendum. But the Plaid leadership has always been scared of this, because they don't think such a referendum could ever be won. They should learn from Labour led by Jeremy Corbyn: a radical manifesto energizes people.

I don't agree with you that Plaid should have "nothing to do with" any unionist parties. I believe parties should work together whenever possible on matters they agree about.

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