In the run up to the Assembly elections last Thursday two friends, whose views I respect but don't always agree with, declared they'd be voting for Labour in their Cardiff constituencies and the Greens on the List vote.

   I took part in a somewhat desperate and pointless 'text war' to try to persuade them to vote for the leftist Leanne Wood, but to no avail.

   What makes it especially strange is that these highly intelligent voters chose Labour after rejecting that party totally during recent years, not just because of Iraq, but a disillusionment with their overall policies. One  explained to only ever having been a member of that party as a reaction to Thatcher and the other was committed sufficiently to the Greens to display their poster in the General Election.

   To fathom this change isn't just to argue that Welsh Labour have taken a different route from New Labour under Blair and Brown, because they have failed to do so on economic policy. Rather, it's a recognition that Labour had forced the agenda in last week's election.

   They had taken Plaid Cymru's usual mantra of 'standing up for Wales' and were seen as a bastion against ConDem cuts. The evidence of free bus passes, lower tuition fees and free prescriptions being maintained are obvious examples.

   It was as if they were voting from a party separate from the Westminster
one which had actually helped create the enormous deficit by allowing bankers free rein and the housing market to dominate people's investments, so a housing slump left them unable to pay mortgages or buy first-time homes.

   Plaid Cymru ,in particular, failed spectacularly to forge any link in people's minds between this Labour party and the one which had caused the crisis. A party which, had they won the General Election, would now be carrying out cuts similar to the Condem ones and dismissing the meek resistance of most Unions, except the likes of PCS and RMT.

   All parties failed to engage or appeal to the poor and dispossessed, most of whom didn't bother to vote simply because no government has ever  radically changed their situation of constant struggle.Ideals of full employment and the eradication of poverty simply aren't in the manifestos of parties who quibble about reformist minutiae. In other words, all the mainstream parties have virtually merged into one entity and it is a matter of tradition or tactics which dictate.

   Plaid, just like the Liberals in London, have been subsumed by the actions of their Coalition partners and subsequently lost their identity in the process. With the Welshification of each party in more than name, it was essential for Plaid to reassert it's distinctiveness as a pacifist, nationalist party with strong republican sympathies.

   Instead, we saw Plaid MP's voting in the Commons for military action in Libya, a refusal to countenance the idea if independence in Wales itself and - with the notable exception of two AM's -  take a British nationalist stance on the Royal Wedding akin to the Labour party (with Lord Elis-Thomas even attending it!).

   No doubt Plaid will attempt to re-fashion itself on the model of the SNP in opposition, though without an influential and charismatic leader like Alex Salmond that could prove impossible.

   Welsh Labour will continue to act as a Social Democratic alternative to right-wing policies emanating from Westminster, but will be tested by the sheer extent of the cuts. It will be interesting to see to what extent they support the inevitable strikes which will take place. No doubt they will distance themselves from the likes of Mark Servotka, who always argues against the need for any cuts at all. The Labour party pose of being a leftwing party always emerges in opposition to Tory-led London government, but it's never more than a pose.

   I dream of a party in Cymru which brings together socialists from many parties but, above all, from outside them. Am I dreaming of the past and the group to which I belonged for many years, Cymru Goch?

   It must be  a party rather than grouping, however, and one whose primary aim is to change the consciousness and lives of the people of this country through involvement in all levels of political action, by setting out a clear vision of what a socialist Wales would be like and how it could be achieved.

   The Welsh Socialist Alliance, which I was also part of, tried to do this very thing by bringing together those on the Left. Sadly, it ended up as yet another organisation the SWP manipulated for their own ends.

   Plaid Sosialaeth Cymru must be grander and embrace socialists within the mainstream parties as well. I can fully understand my two friends who voted Labour, but it strikes me as a reactionary move: a reaction against Westminster rather than a vote for any alternative vision of society.

   There were no election posters in Penywaun, a council estate near Aberdare where my friend, the poet Jazz lives. 'Welcome to the Bronx' he once wrote about the place and called it 'Giro City' in his screaming rant against unemployment ; written decades ago, but frighteningly relevant to today.

   None of the main parties offered hope to the people of Penywaun : long abandoned by Labour, ignored by Plaid, cheated by the Liberals and cut deep and left to bleed by the Tories.

                       NO WORRIES, THERE'S A ROYAL WEDDING!

Lost your job
lost your home
lost the will to ever sing?

no worries
cos there's a royal wedding

lost your benefits
lost the holiday you planned
lost to pawnbrokers your wedding ring?

no probs
cos there's a royal wedding

lost relationships
lost your head in debt
lost in dread when the phone rings?

no sweat
cos there's a royal wedding

lost your pension
lost your kids hopes of higher education
lost your life's very meaning?

no hassles
cos there's a royal wedding!                 

Jake Dickens
05/12/2011 11:16

I always enjoy reading your delightful political rants! (I've become interested in politics myself over the past year. :)


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