Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Blue Wales

I nearly gave up on Nick Bourne's article yesterday after reading his assertion that Oscar's defection is a clear sign that the Tories are broadening their appeal across Wales. It's a complete non-sequitur, especially given that it has subsequently become clear that the underlying reason for the defection was much more to do with the Tories' laissez-faire attitude to the employment of relatives than with any issue of policy or principle.

If I had given up, I would have missed a couple of gems. His claim that the Conservative Party's position is 'clear' on further devolution is risible, and his suggestion that a Tory Wales would be a greener Wales is a nonsense given local Tory demands for new dual carriageways and unqualified support for the wasteful use of scarce energy resources.

At one point, he even seems to manage to blame Labour for making people ill ("Under Labour, considerable sections of our population have deep-seated health problems"). If only solving that problem was as easy as changing the party of government…

The piece was long on criticism of Labour (not always unjustified, mind), but remarkable short on specific proposals. Giving us all an annual entitlement to volunteer and re-imposing prescription charges do however give us a flavour for what to expect. It's the same old Tories deep down; these policies are two different faces of the same underlying idea – public services should as far as possible be either charged for or else provided by charities and volunteers, leaving enough money in hand for tax cuts for the most well-off.

Wales might indeed be a blue nation if England elects a Tory government; but perhaps not exactly in the meaning of the word 'blue' that they are suggesting.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

As a Plaid member I agree with much in the post and the blog in general. Oscar's defection is probably good for us. BUT, as a general point, the fact is that the Tory vote in Wales is massive. MUCH larger than our vote in every general election. So, I'm not sure how productive creating a bogey of the Tories in a tribalistic way is for us. In terms of not alienating potential supporters (i.e. not the English ethnic vote or the old-style British Nationalists, which will always be Tory or UKIP but the small "c" Conservative voters, often Welsh-speaking, also people who question the centralistic Bevanite model of the welfare state, also people who are worried about the lack of entrepreneurship and the high percentage of British state spending in the Welsh economy.)
Efrogwr, Abertawe

Plaid Gwersyllt said...

We have already alienated conservatives with a small 'c' they are called Llais Gwynedd!

John Dixon said...

Anon/ Efrogwr,

I entirely accept that there is a solid minority of Tory voters in Wales; it's an undeniable fact. But you seem to be half suggesting that we should never say anything which might alienate them from voting Plaid, which is a much more difficult question.

No honest party or politician can avoid saying anything which one or other potential group of voters might disagree with. The conclusion of trying to do that would be either to say nothing at all, or else to say different things to different people. I'm not prepared to do the first; and if I wanted to do the second, I'd have joined the Lib Dems.

Valleys Mam said...

I blogged on his speech yesterday
best bit for me was that he harked back to the abolishion of slavery as a plus point for voting Tory

alanindyfed said...

Unless the majority of people in Wales think different and vote green they will end up with the blues.

Mondragon said...

I'm never convinced by these 'Plaid members' that urge us to 'lay off the Tories'- and i'm sure John certainly wouldn't ever be convinced by them either!

There is no tribalism from Plaid towards the Tories. We welcome their right to take part in Wales' future and have engaged in productive dialogue and debate with people like David Melding. Unfortunately the 'Welsh Conservative' element is a minority in their party- and furthermore I believe it to be a sham for electoral and strategic reasons, rather than a party-wide phenomenon. I happen to know grassroots Tory members (one of them in my family) and trust me he doesn't even know about Melding or Bourne, his focus is entirely on British politics, Cameron, Thatcher and General Elections. The Assembly is an afterthought for most Tories. Welsh 'conservatives' should join Plaid because although we are a socialist party it is also a fact that we are a broad church.

As far as Tory voters and small 'c' conservative voters are concerned, I myself live in rural Wales and do not really see any questioning of the 'Bevanite model of the welfare state'. The rural NHS is vital to me, and under a conservative/free market model, health services probably wouldn't exist in rural areas! Where are you coming from Efrogwr?

Most Welsh-speakers I know (in the north of Pembrokeshire) are also extremely nationalistic and would never vote for the Tories because the Tories are a quintessentially English party. A few of them might vote for a centre-right Welsh party that wanted independence, but most of them are more likely to be social democrats.

Even though I am not a socialist, I see the Tories as a fundamental political enemy of the Welsh nation. Their values don't much up with the vales of rural Wales, apart from the bits of rural Wales that have been colonised perhaps. A truly Welsh conservatism would have its own national values that are at odds with the content of English/British conservatism.

alanindyfed said...

That is why I say it is a contest and a choice between nationalism and unionism.
You can be a Welsh socialist, conservative or liberal, why not?.
The British parties and particularly the Tories are as you say "quintessentially English",
The fact that Plaid is a progressive and radical party should not deter conservatives from voting for the Party of Wales. Once Wales is independent that is the rime for a political spectrum to emerge.
It is important that Plaid, as a national party, appeals to all sections of the community, whatever the political views. The other parties are quintessentially British and unionist.

John Dixon said...

Valleys Mam,

The bit about slavery was just too much for me, I'm afraid. Even had the modern Conservative Party actually been responsible for the abolition of slavery, harking back to 1833 to find a reason for voting Tory in 2010 smacked of desperation.

But on my reading of history, it was the Whigs who introduced the Act; the Tories of the day were in fact the opposition in 1833.

Since the Whigs later became the Liberals, if we were going to vote on the basis of the 1833 Act, the Lib Dems might have a better claim. On second thoughts, no, I'd better not encourage them!

John Dixon said...

Alan,

I'm afraid that I don't see life as simplistically as that. I know some nationalists would prefer to see Plaid avoiding taking a policy stance on anything other than self-government, but the inevitable result of that would be an abstentionist position when it comes to taking power at any level.

To contribute to the government of our country, we need to have a coherent policy position on every issue likely to face us. We cannot be both for and against prescription charges for instance.

I have long believed that self-government in itself is pretty meaningless; what matters is what we do with it. And that means having a vision of the sort of Wales we want to see.

Spirit of BME said...

The imputs into this blog make the common mistake of mixing up Tory and Conservative- why not the BBC do it all the time.
In 1922 the Tory Party had a make over and relaunched itself as the Tory/Conservative Party introducing new ideas on the role of the individual and the State,mostly shipped in from the USA.However, the fundamental of conservative thinking is that the individual is the gaurdian of his rights and empowers the government.ie.he/she is sovereign.
The Tory Party fails on this basic point,as they accept that Betty Battenburg,(as do all the other Engish Parties and Plaid`s MP/AM`s )holds that power given to her by the CofE and we are her subjects.

alanindyfed said...

John

In reply I have written at length on my blog concerning your comments and hope that it will clarify my position which is not at variance with your view.