Friday, 9 September 2011

More than semantics

The I-word was the subject of much debate within Plaid, over decades, before it was finally adopted as policy.  Prior to that, the approved phrase was ‘full national status’, a phrase coined by Phil Williams because it meant the same thing, but avoided using the dreaded word.
I always felt that the objection to the I-word was more a case of semantics than of substance.  It was long clear – well, it was clear until about 2000 anyway – that Plaid’s aim was to achieve the same sort of status in the world for Wales as that enjoyed by other free nations, such as Ireland, Denmark etc., but the argument was that none of these countries were really and truly independent, they were all interdependent.  ‘Independence’ was not therefore a wholly accurate description.
It’s a good point, and one with which I entirely agree at an intellectual level.  The problem was that the common usage and understanding of the word ‘Independence’ is precisely that state of freedom enjoyed by countries such as Ireland and Denmark, and trying to avoid using the word that citizens of those countries would naturally use ended up looking shifty and dishonest.
If there’s one thing that Dafydd Elis-Thomas has always liked, it’s being controversial.  If he can upset a few, or even a lot of, members of his own party in the process, so much the better.  I don’t doubt for one moment that his comment that Wales will ‘never’ be independent will do both of those things. 
The question, though, is what does he actually mean?  Is he making a substantive point, or is he merely playing at semantics?  If he is simply restating that long-standing intellectual objection to the use of a particular word, then he’s saying nothing at all new, just re-opening a debate which was over and done with years ago.  And people would be getting upset and annoyed over nothing more than a bad attack of semantics.
But this looks like more than semantics to me.  It sounds like a declaration of his intent to continue along the path trodden by Ieuan Wyn Jones, of turning Plaid Cymru into a post-nationalist social democratic party which seeks further gradual devolution with no clear defined end-point. 
There’s nothing at all wrong with having such a party in Wales; there’s a clear rôle for such thinking.  But we already have at least one such party – and arguably up to three of them.  What does another one add?

9 comments:

maen_tramgwydd said...

There will be no resurrection for Plaid if the Lord ascends to the throne.

stuart said...

Now the other parties appear to be enjoying their roles and all wanting varying degrees of autonomy then surely it makes sense for the one party that is without doubt there for the needs of the people of Wales to have the goal of independence and not be afraid to shout about it.

You mean there's more??? said...

Well, the thing here is that independance, i.e. total freedom has not existed fro a while, this just calls for Wales to have more freedom to prusue Welsh interests in Europe Independant of England, something which is surely a good thing and a positive for democracy both for England and Wales

Siônnyn said...

He went further today on the BBC and said that he had no interest in further constitutional tinkering and high handedly dismissed the importance of devolving things like police and criminal justice as being unimportant. He also gave the impression of being uninterested in the fate of S4C, saying instead he wanted control over 'communications'. Well as there is no London department responsible for that he is also throwing S4C to the wolves. He spoke yesterday against supporting the Cydeithas campaign also. The man is totally out of touch with his party, and will kill it stone dead if he becomes its leader.

When Mohamad Asgar realised that Plaid was serious about independence, he crossed the floor to join the Tories. DET should now follow him.

Peter Freeman said...

This is depressing. What I'm reading and hearing is hardly believable to me. this is Dafydd Elis Thomas? The man who moved the parliamentary writ, in the face of personal threat, that got Bobby Sands elected as MP for West Belfast, the man who campaigned for the release of John Jenkins, the leader of MAC from prison, the man who campaigned against entry to the European Common Market because of what it would do to the future of Welsh Coal and Steel and the effect it would have on our future autonomy.
This is the Dafydd El I remember, I have been in America far too long, how could he have changed so much?

Glyndo said...

It seems to me, and I could be wrong, that the Lord's bid for the leadership is driven by a personal agenda. He wants to go into coalition with Labour and get himself a cabinet post. He must be really missing his "speaker's" allowance.

You mean there's more??? said...

it is perhaps uncharitable to DET, there were a few of us back in the 80's though who wondered if as an MP he got into the London trendie leftie Abbott Livingstone crowd and rather forgot who he was.

Anonymous said...

I thought that Mohammad Asghar left because he discovered that Plaid were serious about not allowing him to employ his daughter

Glyndo said...

Anonymous said...
"I thought that Mohammad Asghar left because he discovered that Plaid were serious about not allowing him to employ his daughter"

Never was a Plaid bone in his body. Independence had nothing to do with it.