Saturday, 30 May 2009

Can opener Morgan

When it comes to the question of Independence for Wales, it can often feel to nationalists that we're damned if we mention it, and damned if we don't. When we talk about Independence as a long term aspiration for Wales, our political opponents are quick to draw attention to the fact that the idea enjoys only minority support in Wales. And if we don't, then we are accused of hiding our true aims.

I've said before that it's not an easy path to walk; but I remain absolutely convinced that openness about our long term aspirations, coupled with pragmatism about what's achievable in the short term is the only honest position to adopt. Creating short term political programmes without trying to place them clearly in the context of our longer term aspirations would, in my view, be dishonest.

If it means that some of the people who might support our short term programmes don't do so because they disagree with our longer term goals - well, that's a choice that they are free to make, and is the price of having a long term view. And if they do support us, it's not on the basis of any ignorance about our goals.

From reading Jonathan Morgan's comments this week, it seems that the Tories have dealt with a little dilemma of their own in a much less honest fashion. I thought the most revealing part of his comments was the statement that "We have also been guilty of not standing up for what we really believe in because we were more afraid of voter hostility". It's an open admission that the Tories' real agenda will attract hostility in Wales, and that they've tried to get round it by pretending to be something that they're not.

It begs the question - what exactly are the Tories for in Wales? Insofar as they have any coherent alternative to offer, it's one that they're afraid to articulate, and one which could not survive their participation in any conceivable coalition arrangement.

They're really caught between a rock and a hard place. Their potential support in Wales is divided between those with a very 'British' perspective and those with a more Welsh perspective. If they come down clearly on one side of that divide, they are likely to lose the support of the other.

And their grass roots membership (in this part of Wales for certain, and I suspect the same is true across Wales as a whole) is overwhelmingly hostile to any attempt to become more distinctively Welsh, whatever some of their AMs might say. (Change of Personnel describes it as them being Conservatives in Wales rather than Welsh Conservatives - it's a neat way of putting it, although I'd have used 'almost all' rather than 'many'.) Their MPs' views are much more representative of what their grass roots members in Wales actually believe.

Unless and until their AMs persuade their own party membership of the need to become more autonomous from the London party and embrace the new Wales – or alternatively, their AMs become more representative of the membership and openly articulate the anti-Assembly views of the majority - they seem doomed to exist in a sort of limbo. Able to be neither one thing nor the other, with their AMs attacking each other in coded messages, they are unable to provide even a half-decent opposition.

Jonathan Morgan has prised a very large can a little further open, I suspect.

8 comments:

alanindyfed said...

A good summing up of the Tories' dilemma. There is a latent nationalism in Wales which needs to be convinced of the ineffectual ability of both Labour and Tory parties to provide the right answers for Wales. The key is Scotland. When Scotland votes for independence and a referendum is won the Welsh will wake up and start to wonder. 1989 was the domino collapse in Europe; Britain will follow suit before too long.

Anonymous said...

John I have never read such dross. I believe what Jonathan Morgan was saying is that the Welsh Conservatives are fighing a against a socialist dogma peddled by Plaid and Labour that hand out large amounts of taxpayers money on ideas like free prescriptions will somehow advance us economically because everyone has equality of outcome. It's fiscal madness and its completely unsustainable. You ask your former economic advisor if I'm wrong!

Captain Birdseye said...

If Plaid talk about independence then people will rightly see them as not focused on the issues that really affect their lives.

On the other hand, take the idea of independence away, and ask yourself: What is Palid Cymru for?

The main 3 parties already offer more than enough choice on the a) libertarian - authoritarian axis and the b)left-right (bigger-smaller state) axis.

Seems that the only differential between the main 3 and Palid Cymru is that the latter wants to rip Wales away from the rest of the UK.

And, as hardly anyone wants this to happen, apart from the Nationalist zelots, I ask again:

What is Palid Cymru for?

alanindyfed said...

This comment comes from the mistaken belief that britain is one nation and there is no fundamental difference between the Welsh, Scots and English.
Why did Ireland fight for its independence and isn't it better for breaking away? The answer is yes.
The people of Scotland are quickly coming to this realisation too.

As for Plaid I'm coming round to the opinion that it would now be advisable to sever its alliance with Labour in the Assembly.
Association with this discredited British party will drag down the potential Plaid vote in the coming General Election. A good strategy would be to leave the coalition.

Cibwr said...

Interesting use of a term, rip.... Makes it sound like Plaid want to remove Wales physically from the UK, float it out into the Celtic Sea.... It reminds me of the old Nationwide logo for the Kilbrandon Report that showed Wales and Scotland attached to England with a chain link and that link gradually being pulled apart as Wales and Scotland did indeed drift off. I think that helped fix in the minds of those devo sceptic people that was what was entailed, a physical separation. There is too much shared history and bonds of affection for that ever to happen and emotive terms like rip or separation will only help strengthen that erroneous view.

Plaid wants Wales to join the wider world community as a nation, not be smothered under the UK blanket (if I can use my own emotive terms). Plaid wants independence because it believes that Welsh solutions for Welsh problems are better solutions than ones imposed from above. It has a vision for the people of Wales and policies to match. To say that Plaid is a one issue party is as absurd as suggesting that the Unionists are a one issue party. They do have dilemmas, how to balance on the backs to two ponies, Wales and Westminster at the same time, but they aren't single issue parties either.

Spirit of BME said...

Dear old Capt Birdseye sailed on an English ship which kept sinking. Plaid is for quitting the Union ,he is dead right,- England is going down the pan.
Lables of Conservatives ,Labour and who ever, is not the point ,its about those who believe that England and its laws have the right to govern in Wales and that Betty Battenburgh is anointed by God and is his representative on Earth.- NURSE !!!

John Dixon said...

Captain Birdseye,

Whilst I wouldn't use the same words that you use to describe Plaid's aim (nor would you expect me too), you seem to be asking what Plaid is for, other than to achieve its stated aims. I think you've answered your own question.

But back to the Conservatives in Wales - what is their vision of the future? If they have one, they certainly haven't articulated it anywhere as far as I can see.

alanindyfed said...

The vision of David Cameron in relation to Wales is for Wales to remain part of the Union, and that northern Ireland should remain part of the Union. When Scotland opts for independence as it surely will there will be no basis for a union. This makes DC's vision irrelevant. I have commented on this on Glyn Davies' blog. The Conservatives need to think again as this is a serious chink in DC's armour. All three major parties in Wales are unionist - it is only Plaid which is touch with the realpolitik of Europe as it is today and as it will be defined in the future.