This week I decided to re-join Plaid Cymru. As someone highly critical of reformist politics and who believes that ultimately only a revolution (albeit a peaceful one) can truly alter our bankrupt system, this was a major step.
   I joined previously in the mid-80s after the demise of the Welsh Socialist Republicans and before the formation of Cymru Goch and , then again, more recently in support of my daughter Bethan's bid to be reselected as an A.M. Her politics, like those of Jonathan Edwards MP, Lindsay Whittle and Adam Price , are very similar to my own.
   This time I am taking an equally pragmatic approach and joining to vote for Leanne Wood in the impending leadership battle and also to help with her campaign. I have been told that there has been a 10% rise in membership in recent months and I sincerely hope that is a desire to back Leanne , rather than stop Lord Elis-Thomas, the George Thomas of Plaid Cymru, who doesn't support independence and is constantly sycophantic towards the monarchy.
   Leanne Wood's politics are remarkably similar to my own. She is indefatigably internationalist in outlook, believing as I do , that each country must struggle to create their own individual form of socialism according to their history and culture.
   She believes in a decentralised socialism which Plaid have actually espoused since the 80s, but never actually carried out or indeed advocated strongly. The importance of cooperatives is fundamental to this and so too is the land bank she has suggested in her excellent 'Greenprint for the Valleys'.
   Leanne Wood is a politician for the future and her ideals are not steeped in that Stalinist obsession of so-called Old Labour, with their certainty that their party knew what the people wanted and duly imposed it on them.
   What Ms. Wood proposes is much closer to the 'Extreme democracy' outlined so prophetically by Cymru Goch's Tim Richards in the 1980s and 1990s; the non-hierarchical organisation of industries and services, whereby management is totally accountable and subject to recall if it doesn't represent the workers.
   Wood's vision for the Valleys in her 'Greenprint' could easily be applied to the whole of Cymru. It is for a sustainable future based on non-fossil fuel energy and we certainly have ample resources in Wales to make this realistic , in terms of hydro-electric power especially.
   Her consistently socialistic outlook means that Wood does not see independence as achievable in isolation. Independence is an mere illusion without the people of Cymru taking control of their economic destiny, with ownership of water, wind power and railways just a starting-point. How can we achieve independence when multi-national companies retain a grip on the economy, pulling out and leaving whole communities to suffer? Moreover, being exploited by Welsh capitalists means no greater freedom for our people.
   As my friend and comrade Tim Richards once stated 'Nationalism is a position and not an ideology'. Therefore, to attain genuine independence our future cannot be determined by shareholders, bankers, or the IMF. Ireland is surely the classic example of a country which has achieved only 'pseudo- independence': not just because of the partition of the six counties against the expressed will of the majority in Ireland, but because of its adherence to neo-liberal solutions, meaning that it has been prey to the vagaries of capitalism whoever has been in power.
   The other condition for genuine independence must be a republic. How can Cymru possibly claim to be its own country, whilst still bearing allegiance to the English Crown, which is indeliably associated with past wars, the Empire and the continuation of the class system?
   Ms. Wood is the only candidate for Plaid's leadership who has been consistently republican in her stance. She was once ejected from the Senedd for referring to E. Windsor as 'Mrs Windsor' and, with Bethan Jenkins and Lindsey Whittle refused to attend the Assembly when she visited last year.
   Leanne Wood has the determination and idealism to keep to her beliefs despite antipathy from the lickspittle media and, indeed, she has developed her ideas over the years to meet the changing situation.
   She has always backed the trade unions in their struggles against the recalcitrant ConDem Government while many other politicians, from both Plaid and Labour , have either been ambiguous in their support or downright condemnatory.
   I believe she represents an exciting future for Plaid Cymru and , like myself, she is a Welsh learner, who feels passionately about the language and the need for equal status in all areas, both public and private.
   In the end, I do not believe that one politician can make a huge difference and perhaps Leanne Wood would agree on this. It is surely about empowering the people and giving them confidence through meaningful jobs and daily participation in the running of the system at all levels.
   Coming from the Rhondda, she will know that there are many people outside the trade union movement and totally disillusioned with all politics, who must be given hope. Every day this Government are creating more and more of such people: graduates who can't get work, skilled workers made redundant and, above all, youngsters who don't even see a glimmer.
   George Monbiot has backed Leanne, calling her 'the Welsh Caroline Lucas'. Yet , she is very much her own person and not an imitation and if she were to become leader of Plaid Cymru then Prof. Gwyn Alf Williams's vision of the party as a real force for change will begin to take shape. 

                              People  Are  Falling

Every week people are falling
in this place of heavy history ;
not wooden sticks nor metal walkers
can help as they crumble down.

Every week others are calling
at some kind of emergency,
by cafes where smokers sit outside
blowing into a bitter breeze.

Every time they’re taken away
you wonder if they’ll ever return
to this town of chimney-trees
and smashed-glass empty factories.

Every fall’s another reminder
of how we once thought proud :
the pick and the furnace fire,
steam that turned the wheels around.

Every pavement’s seen a casualty
yet no-one acknowledges the war :
the rich are living like Generals,
the fallen are troops of the poor.


Bob Coombes
01/12/2012 06:33

Excellent blog Mike. We share the same definition of decentralised socialism and I really like the comparison between DET and George Thomas. We must move forward, not stand still and I have no doubt whatsoever that Leanne is the person to do it.

Iwan Rhys
01/14/2012 02:50

Leanne Wood - ymlaen â ni!

Siôn Jones
01/14/2012 05:15

only Leanne can give Plaid the kick up the arse it so badly needs, and carry us forward to the breakthrough we so badly need, especially in the Valleys. No doubt her election will upset some members, but when it comes to election time, where else are they going to stick their cross? They will stick with Plaid.

Seimon and Elin represent a steady as she goes, more of the same future - which just isn't good enough in this day and age of constitutional turmoil in Britain and in Europe.

DET, as you say, the George Thomas of Welsh politics represents a retrograde step so great that I can't even think of a comparison.

Of the 4 candidates, only Leanne has published her vision for the party and for Wales - apart from her greenprint, her website is pretty convincing. The others have confined themselves to a few press releases to the Western Mail that are completely lacking in vision and with no sense of urgency, whose message is just 'vote for me!'

It has to be leanne. There will be a huge exodus from the party if DET wins - I won't be able to remain a member with a man whose huge ego and lack of ambition for wales, along with his abject servility towards the queen will destroy the party.

01/02/2013 07:44

This was an excellent article. It has some valuable content on this topic. Thank you for compiling it into an easy to read and well written post.

01/28/2014 02:38

It’s really helpful information for everyone.


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