Monday, 30 March 2015

Riding the wave?

A strong and clear part of Plaid’s appeal for electoral support over the last week or so has been the fear hat Wales will get “left behind” if there is a large group of SNP MPs in the new parliament, and only a small group from Plaid.  The fear of getting left behind is entirely valid, and an electoral appeal based on truth ought to be a good starting point.
There are, however, two important factors to consider, and unless both of those apply, then the argument will only ever have any traction with those who are already minded to vote for Plaid.  There is a danger that it will be a case of preaching to the converted.
The first of those factors is this: are voters sufficiently convinced that being left behind is necessarily a bad idea?  Much as I’d like that to be the case, I’m not convinced that it is.  Yes, I know that opinion polls tell us regularly that there is a widespread feeling that Wales should have parity with Scotland, but they don’t tell us how strongly that view is felt.  In particular, they don’t tell us whether, or to what extent, that widespread view is one of the top factors in deciding how people will vote.
In the absence of hard data on that, we can only guess, based on our own prejudices and what people around us think and say.  And my personal view is that, much as I’d like to believe otherwise, it isn’t a top issue for most, and there’s some wishful thinking behind the assumption that it is.
The second factor is this: even supposing that the support for parity with Scotland is a strong motivating factor in deciding how to vote, is it sufficiently clear to people that there is one clear option on the ballot paper which delivers that result?  Again, I fear that this is being taken as read, when to those on the outside it is by no means as clear as they seem to be assuming.
Wales is not Scotland, as people are fond of reminding us.  We didn’t start in the same place, we haven’t got to the same place, and we haven’t followed the same processes in between.  Reading across from one country to the other is always dangerous.  But, having said that, there is one clear difference which needs to be highlighted, and which is, in my view, a significant factor in the very different electoral position in the two countries in the run-up to the UK General Election.
In Scotland, the voters have heard a clear and consistent message in support of independence over decades, and that simply isn’t true in Wales.  Particularly since the advent of the Assembly, the Welsh case has been put intermittently at best, and Plaid has often seemed to fear the issue.  And it’s only a year or two ago that the party told us that Wales was too poor to be independent at present.
It’s only possible to ride a wave if that wave exists; and the big question in adopting this strategy is whether enough has been done to create the wave.  Internal groupthink doesn’t necessarily come to the same conclusion as a more objective analysis.


Anonymous said...

With latest opnion polls showing 40% of welsh voters backing for Labour, 25% the Tories and 14% UKIP, Plaid Cymru's messages isn't getting traction anywhere outside it's core vote, so your spot on.

Leanne Wood's appeal is limited, prime example was the biggest reaction on social media to her apperance on Question Time last week came from Scottish Yessers and English socialists, very little from Wales further proof the 7 way debates wont help Plaid Cymru's anti austerity message either.

Sadly Wales will never be independent unlike Scotland but it's too late to replace Plaid Cymru with a party that will campaign for independence.

John Dixon said...

"Wales will never be independent" - 'never' is a bigger word than it appears to be. I'm not that pessimistic - just not terribly sure about the route at this stage.

Anonymous said...

Personally I think its curtains for Wales as a country.

Basically, we are an English region with a small minortiy of people who speak Welsh and a small minority who don't speak Welsh but are engaged with a distinct Welsh discourse.

We'll never be indy because the English in Wales will never vote for it. Some individuals will but as a community they won't. They won't because, frankly, they see no need for it. They enjoy the status quo. Wales being 'left behind' means nothing to them because they don't see Wales as a nation.

I'm coming to the connclusion that Labour and the British state has won. I've wasted my life trying to revive a language. I'd be better off having left Wales for a better job and life style and not burdened my children with this rubbish country. The irony is, had I left everyone would be praising me on being successful.

It's over. This is what it feels like to be Crimean Tatar, Tibetian or Sorbian. We've just missed the historic milestones in the C19th and early C20th. There's nothing we can do about it now. The British state, Labourism, British capitalism and English language are stronger than us.

Ar Ben

Anonymous said...

Anon 13:43 - I think your pessimism is misplaced and more than a tad melodramatic. That said, I can't be sure what the future holds so your apocalyptic vision may yet come to pass. However, to suggest our current position is anything like as difficult as the three other peoples to whom you refer is, with all due respect, ridiculous.