Cymru Goch were certainly a prophetic group : many of our campaigns have proved to be well ahead of their time.   We were born out of the demise of the Welsh Socialist Republican Movement, some of whose members were detained in jail on remand only to be released when found innocent of any violent actions.
   The likes of Robert Griffiths and Gareth Miles went on to join the Communists, while others simply dropped out of politics altogether.
   But most of us formed Cymru Goch, which I always thought of as the Welsh Socialist Party, only to be told it was a group. Ironically, at the recent republican evening in Cardiff, stalwart Tim Richards described it as a proper party!
   We were essentially a small band of socialist republicans, though we did produce a monthly newspaper 'Y Faner Goch' for many years. In Merthyr, we published our local equivalent 'Llais Merthyr' and caused a stir on the opencast issue.
   We didn't operate within Plaid Cymru. Many of us had been in that nationalist party and become totally disillusioned with their lack of commitment to any form of socialism, let alone republicanism. The complete sell-out by former WSRM supporter Lord Elis-Thomas was the ultimate betrayal.
   Though the WSRM had looked to n. Ireland for inspiration, Cymru Goch developed a distinctively Welsh approach, with civil disobedience at its core.
   Our socialism and republicanism were as one and the monarchy represented (as they still do) the very height of the hierarchy we abhorred. Ousting them was as integral as public ownership to the dismantling of the class system.
   Marc Jones - until recently a Plaid Councillor in Wrecsam - was another stalwart and he has claimed that the Red Poets is our greatest legacy. I believe there are others, less obvious yet equally important.
  Certainly what marked us out as very different from any BritLeft group was the way that art-forms like poetry ,film and music were a fundamental part of our existence.
   Many Cymru Goch members were poets and others started writing after the then Red Poets' Society began to publish annual magazines and perform on a regular basis.
   When we campaigned against Thatcher's Poll Tax ( as part of the Anti-Poll Tax Union) members made a film and it was shown at public meetings.
   In many ways our fight against the Poll Tax epitomised the best of Cymru Goch. We were able to involve many people who had never taken political action before in our 'Can't Pay, Don't Pay' campaign.
   We held meetings advising people what to do should the bailiffs be sent to their homes, as Labour Councils were carrying out Tory policies just as they do now with Cameron's Cuts.
   In Trelewis & Bedlinog, member Rod Barrar was elected to the Council on an anti-poll tax agenda. I recall one Council meeting where he put forward a motion opposing the use of bailiffs, only to be barracked by Labour Councillors. He then read out their own party policy, which told them not to do so!
   We ourselves refused to pay and I ended up in Merthyr Magistrates Court fully prepared to refuse the fine and end up in prison. However, just as my case was coming up, Thatcher decided to abolish the hated tax, which hit the poorer people, just as the savage cuts in benefits are doing today.
   I paid the fine, but I am proud of the role we played and the fact that we always tried to co-operate with other leftist groups who took part in civil disobedience. No major political parties were involved and Plaid Cymru opted for the symbolic gesture of 100 members refusing to pay.
   Ultimately, it was the mass campaign that we took a lead in  which defeated the Poll Tax.
   Another lasting legacy is the opposition to Tony Blair and PFI.
   While the majority of Labour members and supporters (even some leftwingers) saw him as a saviour, we embarked on our 'Tony Is A Tory' campaign, which highlighted the lack of difference between his policies and Thatcher's.
   All this was proved to be true, as he embraced PFI, invaded Iraq, deregulated the banks, privatised the Health Service and established Academies in England.
   Wales under Rhodri Morgan never had the 'clear red water' he maintained, but he did dig a 'thin pinkish ditch'! To his credit, he did abandon PFI.
    We had warned about these schemes from the very start and activists like Marc Jones and Tim Richards must take the credit for their foresight. We organised a Conference in Merthyr's Castle Hotel  to look at PFI's consequences. Everything said on that day has come to pass.
   You have only to look at the crisis engulfing Baglan Hospital to realise this. A £66 million hospital will cost over £300 million and the hospital is being downgraded to the extent where many people will have to go to Swansea for essential services such as A. & E.
   What Cymru needs now more than ever is a fully-fledged Plaid Sosialaeth Cymru, which is completely commited to establishing a socialist republic, without the trappings of a nationalist party, inevitably an uneasy coalition of right, centre and leftwingers.
   There can be no 'Cymru Rydd' without the people controlling and owning the country (especially its water,  transport and  energy). There can be no independence without socialism which destroys the class system.
   There can be no proper rule from the Senedd in the long term without breaking free from a Britain which looks to an anachronistic and aristocratic hereditary head of state : we must have an  elected President to represent our country.
                                *******************

   I appear on Sianel 62 online reading the following poem. It is dedicated to my former comrades in Cymru Goch. 



                                                                        BANERI

1.

Coch fel y baner
coch fel y ddraig
coch fel y gwaed

gwaed yr oen
yn  Ffair Waun,
lle oedd y gwrthdystiad yn ddechrau

coch fel y gwaed Penderyn
oedd yn rhedeg trwy’r nant
i lawr mynydd Aberdar

coch fel y gwefusau
sy’n siarad a’r  dyfodol
pan briodiff gobaith a chyfiawnder

nid goch y rhosyn
cafodd ei toriadau
wrth y llwyn

ond, coch y gwaed
sy’n llifo eto
yn yr afonydd y pobl.

2.

Y faner Prydain
ym mhob man
yn y dre tlawd fi

dros ffenestri y siopau
dros y llyfrau
dros y bagiau

dros y taflenni
dros y posteri
fel wyneb Tito neu Stalin

y cwpl rhyfedd
Olympiaid a frenhines
yn priodi y flwyddyn hon

dyna’r briodas i gadw
yr Undeb sy’n colli canghenau
fel coeden yn y storm.

 


Comments

Rich
09/17/2012 16:21

You are talking to yourself Mike, as no-one else is listening. You are not capable of working with any professional party, which is sad.

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02/21/2013 07:16

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Reply
07/04/2013 00:28

There is indeed a great legacy for Cymru Goch or The Red Wales. They have fought well for Free Wales. I think they are one of the founders of the Welsh Socialist Alliance. But some members of Cymru Goch still there in the Forward Wales party.

Reply
11/10/2013 02:35

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Reply
02/22/2014 00:57

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