Monday, 8 July 2019

The Welsh Road to Ecosocialism

The Welsh Road to Ecosocialism

 .Monday musings and some thoughts on the fiftieth anniversary of the 1969 Investiture...Some fifty years ago I was a child of 11 at an English Prep School. I knew that as the staff and pupils at the school waxed lyrically and sycophantically of the House of Saxe-Coberg-Gotha. I asked my teacher why this had no real meaning either to Wales or of history. I was mocked by Miss Seranck for that question. I told her I had read of the Edwardian conquest of 1282 and of the great lie of Edward the First. She told me not to be a silly little boy. Yet she sat me on the road that led to my Welsh Republican Socialism. Fifty years later the sly little boy of 1969 is looking back over fifty years and reflecting on the possible routes to a Welsh EcoSocialist Republic. My thoughts have changed and developed over those fifty years and I have during that time been the Leader of the Welsh Green Party, a men we of Plaid Cymru and for the last few years an activist within the Labour Party and branch Secretary of Ystradgynlais Labour Party. As I glance at the Welsh Green Party I observe that it's claim to have a Welsh identity was done to death when it voted two to one against becoming a separate party. I had long argued that for a vibrant Green Party to turn it's back on the Welsh National Movement was a profound error. The principle of an independent Green Party in an independent Wales would have been a powerful tool in critiquing both Plaid and the Welsh Labour Party and of providing a treasury of ideas that would have enriched the Welsh political tradition and added a significant Welsh dimension.. As it is the Greens now do nothing but feed the socially conservative and reactionary rants of Jac o the North and the growing nature of a Welsh home grown far right that is populist and best illustrated in the confused males of groups like Ein Gwlad. The Welsh Greens at best seem to be little more and rather unfairly as incomers telling the Welsh people what to do.

Within Plaid we have a tension. While there are perfectly competent Ecosocialust here and a long honourable tradition of community activity in individuals such as Leanne Wood and Bethan Sayeed there is within Plaid a long tradition of Social Conservatism. This can be essentially seen in what I would call the Neil MeEvoy Syndrome. Here we see an essentially unreconstructed masculinity that is essentially tolerant and in support of a Welsh masculinity and outlook that dislikes "Greenies, wimmin and lefties" . The men around him are often worse and I saw during the Plaid leadership campaign a vile misogyny from many of them. I saw the trashing of transgender rights by social conservative supporters of Neil McEvoy arguing that the main issue was an independent Wales and that social diversity was not an essentially important part of a new Wales. Adam Price must decide soon if he allows Prince Neil back Into the party. If he does the pressures against Eco Socialism within Plaid Wi I crease dramatically as Prince Neil and his followers will seek to change Plaid into a Welsh UKIP lite party far removed from ecosocialism and a tolerant and diverse Welsh identity. As it is I hear that the Plaid group within the Assembly will not allow him back. Indeed I suspect that if he returns it is highly possible that Leanne Wood and Bethan Sayeed would probably leave Plaid and form a Welsh Republican Socialist faction.. I note also with interest that Cardiff West Plaid have renamed itself 'Plaid and independent" you can clearly see the trajectory and possibilities considered by the social conservatism of Prince Neil and his allies. And so I conclude my observations on Plaid by noting the opposition to a Welsh Ecosocialism clearly emerging here. Plaids inner demons over opposition to renewables and it's schizoid attitude to Nuclear power also provides serious problems to it's emergence as an Eco Socialist party.

I joined Labour some years ago largely because it seems to me the best party to develop an Ecosocialust teach in in an Eco Socialist Wales. Mark Drakefords commitment to Socialism. The role of Momentum and Welsh Labour Grass roots make this transformation possible. I feel at home within this tradition and have found many former Green Party and Plaid Ecosocialists there. There is a commitment to diversity and multiple identities there . The emergence of Jeremy Corbyn and alternative non capitalist policies all create the circumstances and policies to make Labour the best means for creating a Welsh Ecosocialust tradition,. This would involve new models of ownership, and an open tolerant and diverse Wales. It may well be that Ecosocialists from within Plaid like Leanne Wood and Bethan Sayeed would feed radical ideas into an Ecosocialust Welsh Labour. It would also offer the capacity of those Ecosocialst from the Green Party to influence and provide ideas for the future. The road to Welsh Ecosocialusm is near but the road is still a long and winding one. These thoughts run through my mind and I am a commited Welsh Republican Socialist of some 61 years of age. I look forward to the future of the Welsh people and the Welsh nation. There is much to do and the dogs of reaction are barking and yet my mind is clear as is the method and direction of a new Wales that is socialist, tolerant, green and diverse...

Psychological response to militarry occupation

 My reaction to the events of July 1969 were the origin of my commitment to an Independent Welsh Socialist Republic. Some fifty years later as July 2019 approaches I find myself a Welsh Republican Socialist fully aware of my beliefs and outlook. The Welsh Socialist Republican tradition is spread between many parties in Wales . I find it articulated clearly and forcefully in this Julys copy of `Liberation`. The magazine brings together all of the necessary themes. 

The sheer size of the castle in Caernarvon brings home the reality of military occupation. It was 750 years ago yet you still realize how the domination of the town and the port shows how thoroughly the area was garrisoned. The castles of Edward 1 at Harlech, Caernarvon Beaumaris, Conway show the iron heel of the Anglo Norman state across north Wales.

It was this Anglo Norman state that learnt the model that made Wales the first colony, the model that would be used in Ireland and in Sicily. In the castle of Caernarvon on a gigantic Chess board are the figures of the conquest. The largest is Edward Longshanks himself brooding, in control and dominating all the others. I saw further evidence the line of the princes of Wales from imagination, through Vortigen created, constructed, the mysterious gap from the last Welsh ruler to the present Saxe-Coberg- Gothas claiming the title. There were films of previous Investitures from 1911 and 1969. Each gave lip service to the Welsh identity but each slammed the boot of the English state both consciously and consciously on the Welsh identity. culture.

It was a military occupation first and foremost and brought home to me even more powerfully than before of this process. One branch of my family comes from North Wales and I have always been aware of how the Arthurian legends come from Wales, from Brittany and of how the Imagination form the base of so much of the borrowed, purloined culture of the Anglo Norman state. A returning Arthur would have by definition opposed them, and would have created an Celtic faith far different from the patriarchal war processing state that the Anglo Normans imposed. Yet this was something I realized much later.

In Carnarvon some years ago passed a book shop where I see in the window a book by Gideon Brough called” The rise and Fall of Owain Glyn Dwr. The book is very important. It stresses the Welsh revolt here as an important part of the Hundreds Year war. For too long this revolt was seen as a sub plot of a rebellion by an obscure Welshman against the King. Brough sees this campaign as part of a wider European war. He stresses the role of Glyn Dwr not only as a soldier but also as a thinker and as an administrator. He stresses the role of a separate rebel state in terms of law and administration and recognizes its value to a sense of Welsh identity.

Glyn Dwr brought down the Edwardian state in Wales, he had real roots in the Welsh population. We cannot claim him as the founder of a modern Welsh nationalist identity but we can rescue him from obscurity and denial. They never told me about him at Prep School I just heard of the Edwardian conquest. They never told me of Hywell Dda, of Gruffudd Ap Llywelyn, and of the knowledge, culture and learning within Wales prior to the building of Caernarvon and the Anglo Norman occupation.

So,me personal reflections on Welsh  Labour

Thiis is  my response and form a reflection on the previos speculations. the Labour party conference that I have ever attended. I have been going to political conferences over 30 years and this was the most challenging, intriguing and frustrating one that I have experienced. I learned a great deal and have gained a great deal of understanding of both the angels and the demons of the Welsh Labour Party. In addition, I learned a great deal about the constitution, the nature of debate and of the Labyrinthine forms of political activity and approach.

I attended workshops on the following topics:

1.      The effect of Brexit on the concept of political identity and being Welsh, British or English. This was a fascinating presentation provided by Cardiff University Political Election Unit. It clearly showed the effects and social outlook of each political party and the challenge ahead in Wales for the Labour party in the assembly elections of 2021. It is quite clear that while Labour have great strengths in certain area that there is a vulnerability that need to be overcome.

2.      I attended a workshop run by Stuart Olwady on the use of the campaign app for canvasing. This was a first class workshop that enables us to understand voting behaviour over a long period of time in a particular area. This will be an essential tool that I will teach to both my local Ward Party and if required to the CLP. The app is valuable yet need a lot of work doing on it for people like myself who are partially sighted.

3.      The highlight of the conference was Jeremy Corbyn`s speech on the Saturday afternoon. He clearly demonstrated that he understood that there is a Welsh Labour tradition and beautifly quoted the Welsh poet Idris Davis. On the Saturday night I attended the rally at which Mark Drakeford, Mike Hedges, Meke Antoniw, Joe Tomas and Shawanah Tag spoke. This was a well-attended meeting and the topics raised clearly showed the strengths and the weaknesses of Welsh Labour that we must attend to. Once more the issues of winning of 2021 were particularly stressed and considered. Joe Tomas`s account of her campaign as PPS were particularly fascinating showing how Labour could reach votes in a rural area and was particularly relevant for us here in Brecon and Radner. Shawanah Tag`s observations were very relevant concerning the lack of diversity within Welsh Labour Party and she clearly indicated how Plaid Cymru had already stolen a march on Labour in terms of its appreciation of the multi-ethnic nature of the Welsh people.

4.      In many respects the conference allowed me to pick people that I have known in various political incarnations over the last 40 years. I enjoyed meeting former political adversaries and former political friends in the same political party. The conference as a whole had a feeling of coming home for the first time but always knowing that place.

5.      The major criticism I have that I felt that there was an inbuilt majority within the delegates who always voted with the recommendations of the Welsh Labour Party executive. It is quite clear that Welsh Labour has a long way to go in being responsive to both the activists and the need to become a mass Party that response clearly to its ordinary members.

6.      The Party has a long way to go on understanding the real nature of a sustainable and green Wales. I was repulsed when on the second page of the conference booklet that there was an advertisement trumpeting the value to Wales of aviation expansion at Heathrow airport. This is just not compatible with the Welsh Labour assembly government declearing a climate change emergency within Wales. I was delighted that Wic Grout reminded the conference that to really deal with climate change that we must stop eating meet, stop flying and end capitalism. There is a long way to go within Welsh Labour to appreciate what Eco socialism is really about. It was particularly disappointing that one speaker in the motion of the small hill farms felt that the consumption of the meet was an issue for a few hundred years to come and not in the present.

7.      The rejection of the motion of Autism was depressing and followed the usual pattern of rejection all motions not supported by the Welsh Labour Party executive.

8.      As a national executive member of Disability member I would like to point out that very little assistance was given for those of us with sight issues. Despite indicating the nature of my disability larger text was not provided and there were significant issues in access for those with mobility problems. It is essential that some serious consideration be given in future. Disability Labour have now affiliated to the Welsh Labour Party and this will enable a more direct route to challenge these problems.

9.      The best bit of the whole conference was seeing the red flag at the end of conference. It is something I have always wanted to do and lifted my spirits very powerfully. It was quite poignant that conference was held in Llandudnu. Last time I was here some fifty years ago I was with my grandfather who I realize was most influential in developing my appreciation and my love and understanding of socialism. So I will always remember the conference form better practical and emotional learning experience.

10.  A Party political conference offers his delegates the change to experience the Id, the Shadow and the Persona of the political party that you belong to. It is important to appreciate all of these aspects and understanding to participate, contribute and to develop your own role as a delegate and activist within the party. I was untypically nervous when considering speaking in public and this is rather unusual for me. I suspect that I could have learned far more had I appreciated exactly how Welsh Labour Party works and its organized.

 The Seren Werdd declaration....

     We seek to create a socialist and green Wales. A Wales where power is devolved to the lowest possible administrative unit. A Wales where its people are aware of it culture, history and language and which is fully bilingual and multi cultural. A Wales that supports workers rights, public services and a comprehensive welfare system. A Wales that protects the rights of animals to be free from exploitation. We are opposed to Nuclear Power and seek a Wales powered by renewables that are owned by the communities of Wales. We seek a Wales that is a non-aligned, neutral republic and which is free from the arms industry”.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your insights. Very helpful and informative article for Welsh Labour members and others.