Tweet 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.
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