Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Labour's Nationalists

I was more than a little surprised to read yesterday that one of the leaders of 'True Wales', Rachel Banner, apparently believes that there are 'nationalist sympathisers' in her party, who want Wales to become an independent state. I'm not convinced about that; I think that she, like many others, is confusing identity and politics, an issue on which I contributed an article to WalesHome last week. Mind you, if the Labour Party want to spend some time looking under their own beds for dreaded nationalists, I'm hardly going to complain.

Perhaps she's just read too much into the story a while back suggesting that Plaid's strategy revolved around splitting the Labour Party between its nationalist wing and its unionist wing. In reality, I've never been happy with that idea, for two reasons (apart from the obvious one of why we would ever want to broadcast our strategy to the world in the first place!).

The main reason is that I think it doesn't represent the reality of the Labour Party, any more than does the 'True Wales' view of a party containing 'nationalist sympathisers'. There are those in the Labour Party, certainly, who are suspicious of anyone who has a strong sense of Welsh identity – or even anyone who speaks Welsh – and on occasions such people get treated as some sort of crypto-nationalists. That has tended to strengthen the view of a Labour Party which is somehow divided over the issue of Wales' constitutional future.

But I think that misses the point. Certainly, they have disagreements about the pace and extent – or even the principle – of devolution, but that is not the defining issue of politics for any of them. And there is a great deal more which unites them than divides them. It's easy for people who see the constitutional status of Wales as the defining political issue to project that view onto others; but it just ain't reality.

The second reservation that I've always had about the alleged strategy is that it predicates Plaid's progress on what happens inside another political party. A strategy which makes us the prisoners of a misreading of the internal dynamics of another party hardly sounds to me like a basis for progress.

4 comments:

alanindyfed said...

This leads one to wonder if Rachael Banner thinks that closet nationalists, if they exist, are somehow being disloyal to Labour. The fact that Labour is a unionist party is antithetical to having people in its ranks who favour independence. Her thinking is flawed in that she believes that the future of Wales lies with the Union as Wales cannot survive without its support (her opinion).
I still think the Referendum will show the division between unionists and nationalists, those who think Wales cannot survive economically and those who see Wales as part of Europe (and therefore viable). Those who are anti-the EU will support her position, basically British nationalist.
A great pity that she is from "yr hen bentre fy'n nhadau"!

TheStone said...

I dont accept Alanindyfed position where he says being pro-Welsh independece means you support Wales being a member of the E.U.The left have objected to the E.U. as a capitalist club for many years.I m not saying I am committed or not committed to the E.U.but to say it is an automatic position of the left pro-Welsh-democracy movement does not seem to be correct.

John Dixon said...

TheStone,

No, I agree that it doesn't follow automatically that independence means being a member of the EU. But Plaid's position is that we should join the EU. I would accept that that inevitably redefines what 'independence' is.

alanindyfed said...

The European Union exists, whether we like it or not. It is unlikely to be dismantled. Plaid's position is therefore forward-thinking. Wales will be a member of the union of European nations. To me, it not a question of left or right politics. They are both represented in the EU parliament.
Further, the system we are using is a capitalist system and will remain so, despite its obvious negative consequences (i.e. division of society through unequality). Communism failed, but I think communalism could work, where all sections of society are cared for and nourished, while allowing for individual enterprise to prosper. Turning our backs on the EU is a retrograde step and will never gain credence. The fure is not with Britain - the future is Europe.