Our out of touch Assembly won’t rebuild Wales through virtue signalling

Neil McEvoy AM

Neil McEvoy AM

When people ask us about sovereignty we need to make it clear that it’s not sovereignty for its own sake.

It’s sovereignty because Wales has something to offer. We can be a force for good in this world.

We have a duty to take responsibility for ourselves. Being in the UK really has only one main advantage, so far as I can see, and that’s not having to take responsibility.

Kant knew this in the 18th Century. He recognised that there are always people willing to establish themselves as our ‘guardians’, who will carefully see to it that people regard taking the step to ‘maturity’ as ‘difficult’ and ‘dangerous’.

By not taking responsibility we leave it to others to be our guardians and we pay a heavy price for that.

That’s why we have the worst infrastructure, the worst education and the worst economy in the UK and much of Western Europe.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with Wales that should lead to this. There are plenty of other smaller, mountainous places in the world that are thriving.

It’s just that we were conquered early on, our rebellions against a much larger, more dominant neighbour were unsuccessful and we’ve been relying on their charity ever since.

No wonder we lack confidence as a nation.

Dependent

What we need to see from the Welsh Government is a much more assertive position. Wales is competing with the rest of the UK for resources from the government in London and we’ll get absolutely nowhere by being agreeable.

It’s unfortunate that’s the case, but that’s how it is and it’s not going to change.

When one of Wales’ top international economists and former advisor to the Welsh Government, Gerald Holtham, is telling us that ‘we are a dependent economy, a lean-to on the UK Government…’ then we should really take action.

And he’s not alone. Another of Wales’ top thinkers, Professor Richard Wyn Jones of the Wales Governance Centre, has written ‘the United Kingdom is not a “sharing union”’.

‘It is rather a realpolitik union. Those with the loudest voice and (oh, the irony) a credible threat of secession, get to have most influence on how resources are allocated.’

I know that listening to the views of clever people has become unfashionable in some quarters, but these people know what they’re talking about.

Carwyn Jones may spend his time screeching at me in the Assembly Chamber but I don’t believe for one second that when he’s in Westminster he’s got the toughness to get the best deal for us.

He personally doesn’t have what it takes and he’s got no leverage anyway.

Sacking

So what does the Assembly do in this situation? Rather than get some leverage, we keep wasting our time with completely out of touch politics which come from the Authoritarian Left.

That’s a damaging distraction when the institution has undergone a series of major traumas over the past few years that have not been dealt with.

The Brexit vote has simply not been faced up to at all. This collection of people who thought they were in the vanguard of public opinion have got no answers to the fact that Wales voted by majority to leave the European Union.

And the sacking, and subsequent suicide, of Carl Sargeant has absolutely rocked the Assembly. Any ideas that this was a slightly boring, but ultimately friendly, parliament are gone.

Investigations into how toxic the culture in Welsh Government is, are now underway.

Plaid’s response to this has been to fail to even determine if there’s a case to answer to complaints made against me by lobbyists more than 11 months ago.

The group also voted to permanently expel me by a forwarded email, without telling me what I’d done wrong or giving me the chance to defend myself.

There seems no time for the ancient principles of natural justice and allegations needing to be proven, but there is all the time in the world for the privileged, Authoritarian Left.

Future Assembly Members won’t be measured by their merit and ability, but through a simple count of their genitalia.

Citizenship will no longer be what gives people the right to vote. Almost anyone will soon be able to turn up and immediately decide the future of our country.

Most sensible people recognise that removing institutional barriers to deliver equal opportunity is where our focus should be, which includes the barrier of corruption.

But that won’t stop the entitled few from trying to force equality of outcome, when there’s no evidence that it’s even desirable.

It took the European Renaissance to throw off this level of dogma. We should not return to it lightly.

Now

Wales has got to get focused. We’re not going to build the New Welsh Economy and reindustrialise our nation with the technology of the future through identity quotas.

We can’t create a more self-sufficient country that stands on its own two feet through virtue signalling.

We won’t cut all the waste and bureaucracy by throwing money at swathes of third sector organisations with their chief executives’ fat cat salaries.

You won’t own you own home and live a sovereign life if we continue to be a ‘dependent economy’.

Nobody is going to just give this to us. If we want these things we have to get organised and take them.

It’s going to be a lot of work, but we have a responsibility to do it. I’m not prepared to live in a country that is dependent on another and I hope you’re not either.

Wales has something to offer and many people out there can see it too.

If you want to find out more then come to my fringe at Plaid Cymru conference at the Bridge End Hotel in Llangollen – lunchtime on Saturday the 24th of March.

It’s time to propel Wales forward. Let’s start talking about how.

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33 Comments

  1. Love you Neil!

  2. “I’m not prepared to live in a country that is dependent on another and I hope you’re not either.”

    We should be deeply ashamed of ourselves that we have done so for so long.

  3. brilliant til near the end when some pretty wild schrapnel let loose.. RIGHT SPIRIT, trim the barbs. You keep growing

  4. Wouldn’t it be great if we could get all elected Welsh Mps to refuse to sit I Westminster.

  5. As far as I can see, only 3 groups of people could have a problem with this. 1) unionists for whom being part of the union is more important than anything or anyone. 2) people for whom the status quo is proving to be very rewarding either professionally or financially (or both) and 3) people who (not unfairly) immediately become preoccupied by the ‘how’: “how do we do this, we are too small, too poor, too lacking”. We may as well forget about the first 2 groups, they will NEVER be allies and never be convinced. The third group are there to be won over. But who the hell is going to do it? For every day that passes, these people who are bursting with questions, give up and subconsciously fall into the first group, not because they are unionists by nature but because they are only hearing the unionist’s argument. This is not a criticism of groups that are currently doing fantastic work in building people’s confidence in Wales’s potential, it is a condemnation of the political parties’ paralysis when it comes to talking about Wales’s long-term future. I’ve just finished completing “A parliament for Wales Survey”. It’s great that a survey has been produced, but there are elements in it that were difficult to accept as warranting inclusion whilst there were other issues of principle clearly absent e.g. prisoners’ right to vote… really? Is that what they’re worrying about? Although one could argue that being forced to vote would be an extension of their punishment – I certainly feel that elections are punishing affairs these days. Conversely, nothing about AMs needing to be resident in Wales (not pretend residency either, proper residency) and nothing about controlling lobbying. Am gachu!

  6. There are two parts to the problem of Welsh political identity.

    Firstly there is no such thing as Welsh Labour.
    They are a branch office of their National Executive Council – where the ‘National’ refers to the UK – i.e. England dominated.

    Secondly Plaid’s interpretation of Labour as fellow socialists.

    Labour have a one-eyed version of international socialism that, conveniently, grinds to a halt at the white cliffs of Dover, but is committed to a we’re stronger together’ English dominance of Wales and Scotland.
    For example look at Carwyn’s visit to Scotland to speak against independence and Corbyn’s refusal to to form a socialist alliance to oust the Tories at Westminster.
    The Labour Party is just as much a UK unionist party as the Conservative and Unionist Party.

    Plaid need to make the case for an independent Wales.
    We need hard economic evidence, in a simple format, for public consumption. Not references to academic papers that nobody is going to read.
    We need to show that we can go it alone and be a better and more prosperous country.
    We need useful examples of other small countries that thrive on independence.
    We need to build pride in our country.

    In short, we need to win hearts and minds.

    Plaid are not going to do this by being camp followers of Carwyn’s caravan.
    Plaid are not going to do this by preaching second hand Labour policies.
    Plaid are not going to do this by trying to convert aging Labour supporters to the nationalist cause.

    Plaid need to have policies that unashamedly work towards independence.
    They need to stop pretending that they’re the Labour Party wrapped in the Draig Goch.

  7. You raise a few very good points early on in this article about a lack of national confidence and our ability to thrive if given the opportunity. What follows however is slightly baffling. Genitals? The death of Carl Sargeant (you manage to shoe-horn that into many points I’ve noticed)? Your removal from the Plaid Cymru group? The authoritarian left? Identity quotas? Attacks on third sector organisations? Virtue signaling?

    It’s like you’ve set yourself the task of writing about national identity and the sovereignty of Wales, put potential points you want to make into a hat, lost that hat, and have somehow found another hat filled with scribblings of ‘things that annoy me’ instead. Oh, the hat is also made of tin-foil and has ‘trust no one’ written on it. I can just picture it now, a pilot episode of the X Ffiles with Agents McEvoy and Scully. ‘It wasn’t aliens, Scully, it was the labour administration and Deryn that did this.’

    • I can see what you mean. But his points re genitals, identity quotas and other proposals affecting the soon-to-be Parliament made sense to me because I’d just completed the “A Parliament for Wales Survey”. I think the other things are listed as (convenient) symptoms of institutional problems currently standing in the way of progress?

    • Steve Collings

      The random lists of ‘things that annoy me’ is very Alt-right / Trump speak. As is ‘virtue signaling’
      Its an extremely worrying sign for Welsh politics if people are going to start mixing this right wing misogynism with the Independence cause

      • You need to get over antiquated right-left discourse and move on. Stick to the issues of nationalism versus colonialism, economic stagnation versus prosperity, AMs taking orders from Westminster versus AMs trying to make a better Wales, and you won’t go far wrong.

        • Red Dragon Jim

          Original article mentions the Left as well. When it is made part of the authoritarian-libertarian terrain, it cannot be avoided.

  8. Gareth Bailey

    i will gloss over the genitalia part. otherwise a resounding CALL TO ARMS !!

  9. One of the first thing I and my students noticed on our first first to the Senedd years ago was how much more balanced the gender ratios were than Westminster and how much less bad tempered shrieking at one another there was.

    Somewhere along the way since then both things appear to have got lost and the Siamber slides closer towards the behaviour and structure of the House of Commons every day.

    I’m not sure how we fix it but we need to.

    I’m puzzled by the notion that “equality of outcomes” as measured by gender ratios among the decision makers of the country could be anything LESS than desirable. Surely those in government should be reflective of the demographic of the governed… Anything else smacks of, “I know better than the minions what’s best for them.”

    The assembly should be, to the best of our ability, made up of the same sort of ratios as the real world – the same proportion of working class people, the same proportion of women, the same proportion of ethnic minorities.

    “No no it should be the best people, not a quota,” will come the cry no doubt, but does anyone really think we’re getting the best people NOW? We have some standout performers, yes. And then we have the plodders and the ‘just a jobs’ and the wanglers and CV-builders.

    So what evidence is there that aiming for change and a more balanced Siamber wouldn’t be better? those ‘best people’ that we’re missing, aren’t hidden away amongst those underrepresented groups? If you’re not attracting people from the whole population the odds seem pretty good that you’re missing an awfully large pool of resources.

    • I’ll be honest, whilst I agree with “The assembly should be, to the best of our ability, made up of the same sort of ratios as the real world” I will admit that I think that’s best achieved by extensive changes at party level rather than formal gender quotas alone? But I’m open to all options that would produce a better reflection of society in the siambr.

      • Ideally, sure – but it’s getting parties to make those changes without they spur of a quota… If they were going to do it out of the goodness of their hearts with softlysoftly methods it would have happened already.

  10. I won’t comment on the bulk of Neil’s article. It was largely hot air and posturing. There was one sentence however that stuck out to me: “Wales is competing with the rest of the UK for resources from the government in London..”. My first thought was – no it isn’t, Wales has its own resources aplenty. Then I realised that what he meant by ‘resources’ was money, or more specifically English pounds. Thinking of money as a resource is the problem. Money is not a resource. It is not even a thing. It is a measure of value and tokens of exchange.

    Alan Watts once pointed out that being limited by money, or the lack of it, was ludicrous. He wrote it was like having construction workers and materials on a site and then being told they can’t build the house because they have run out of inches.

    The 2 linked articles by Gerry Holtham and Richard Wyn Jones fall into the same trap.

    Gary Holtman advises that the way to overcome our sluggish debt-ridden economy is by taking on more debt. Typical of economists who fail comprehend the wealth-extracting nature of debt-based money. A well-trained economist.

    Then there is Richard Wyn Jones, essentially a bean counter. He is concerned we are not getting our fair share of beans, English pounds. Like Gary Holtman, he fails to see that the problem IS the English pound, not the lack of them. These beans are poisonous debt-based beans. The effects of relying on them are disinvestment, growing inequality, de-industrialisation and poverty – not just in Wales but throughout this island we share. These are the dire effects of debt-beans churned out by the City of London. The masters of The Square Mile are our real Overlords, not the chattering classes found in Westminster.

    Like all Ponzi schemes, debt-based finance always end in collapse and destitution. We are now on the cliff edge. Some say we have already fallen off. We just haven’t hit the bottom yet.

    I have given up hoping any politician or political party inhabiting their hallowed bubbleland will wake up and start challenging the real power behind the throne before it is too late. It is something we will have to do ourselves.

  11. Red Dragon Jim

    What is the point about people turning up and being allowed to vote? Who?

    And based on genitalia?

    • I think that is referring to the proposal to allow any person that is here legally, regardless of whether they hold legal citizenship, to be allowed to vote in Assembly elections? The bit about genitalia is about the proposals to create gender quotas for selecting AMs?

  12. I suspect the real message – which Neil McEvoy himself must appreciate after so many years in Plaid Cymru – is not that we are denied more control over our country by England or Unionists but that our political parties have reached the destination of their ambitions. They have an Assembly wherein they may strut and posture, virtue signal to their hearts’ content, while funding an unsustainable third sector made up of political colleagues, friends and relatives and pretend it’s an economy (into which they themselves can slip when rejected by the electors) .

    Why exchange this responsibility-free heaven in which all evil can be blamed on England and Unionists and all credit taken by the Assembly with the hell of federalism or independence that would mean responsibility falling on said incompetents?

    • Spot on Royston, spoken like a true Jac ! That community of cachwrs in the Bay have slipped into irrelevance and redundancy in record time. Sadly they still have the powers to make a mess of people’s lives. There is a residue of good people there but the vast majority now held by careerists and political goodlifers exceeds anything a genuine political party could ever hope for. Rule by a smug self satisfied elitist cluster.

  13. Neil’s obviously got plenty to be aggrieved about in the way he’s been treated by Plaid, but sometimes he can fall himself into this victim mentality which is the bane of our current society.

    However he is absolutely on the money with his description of the Authoritarian Left, which has infiltrated his party to such a degree. It seems to be a toxic blend of woolly romanticising about socialism, Guardian-pleasing progressivism, feminist identity dogma with a sprinkling of Momentum-like moral absolutism.

    What on earth has that go to do with Welshness or Wales’s current plight? Talk about fiddling while Rome is ablaze……

    Wales needs this kind of leftism like it needs a hole in the head. What’s needed is a more syncretic approach which can apply common sense solutions that work- not ideological dogma which just leaves most people cold.

    A syncretic approach could take the best elements from the left- fairness, opportunities for all and the best elements from the right- individual responsibility and enterprise and come up with political solutions that resonate with the people of Wales. Not left, not right just truthful.

    Personally, I feel Plaid are too much down the rabbit hole to be able to see this and therefore it seems inevitable that it will be incumbent on the much anticipated new party to take on this task.

    • CambroUiDunlainge

      Welsh Nationalism needs to be redefined but I suspect many will be disinclined to accept their ideologies are at this juncture irrelevant. Down the road people can be Socialists, Republicans and whatever else. But really… I’d consider anyone who is unable to put their ideology aside is either ignorant of the challenges and situation Wales faces or is simply happy enough being British. Ideology before nation is self before others.

  14. Starts off with some unarguable generalities about the place of Wales in the Union and the need for independence, then turns into a bizarre, barely comprehensible scatter-gun rant at practically everyone and everything. Weird.

  15. does the Assembly need to adopt a Recall procedure

  16. Since independence seems to be currently off the to-do list in Bubbletown, then to achieve the Wales that Neil McEvoy proposes, we need first of all a proper use of this large amount of pocket-money that Westminster grants to the Senedd. Royston Jones has explained in many a post how this handout is squandered and misused to promote poverty, nepotism, population transfer, and financial benefits to individuals/groups outside Wales, as well as the dependency culture referred to by Neil. The present devolved powers should be enough to ensure that this money is used for Wales’s benefit, and to promote the kind of economy and society that McEvoy advocates (albeit with little detail, but, chwarae teg, that presumably wasn’t his purpose here).

    All it takes is the political will to use this money rescue our society and develop our economy. The AMs we have now will never do it. We need to put pressure on them (petitions, letters, TV and radio, leafleting the electorate to let them know what’s happening – anything that will create public awareness and, hopefully, public pressure ) to shame the Senedd into ending the privileged status of the Third Sector and to fight back against the EnglandandWales organisations. If they still won’t do it, they need to be replaced by an electable new party with the kind of bottle that McEvoy himself has exhibited locally and nationally.

    Plaid Cymru are on wafer-thin ice with me now..

  17. Well the temperature may rise, and together with the weight of opinion, the ice might break when it thaws, so be ready.

  18. To be pedantic, men and women have the same number of genitals, so the genital counting comment was a bit daft. But the gender balance thing also has it’s problems. I have a female Tory AM, am I supposed to be glad that I have a Tory AM, because she beat a male Plaid candidate?

  19. I’m generally content to let a lot of things go, but I will reply to Steve Colling and his cheap attack. Plaid Cymru should be about defending diversity, including diversity of opinion. The Plaid I joined, championed the particular, over the uniform. I don’t like having to be uniform, neither do voters. I don’t ever recall Steve Colling and his ilk shouting about quotas for people who aren’t white, but I wouldn’t stoop to call him a racist. Why would I? Moreover, if you walk around the Assembly, you will only see black or brown faces working in security or cleaning. Why do we not deserve quotas, if you think that is the way forward Steve? Class is the biggest barrier in Wales, but where are the initiatives to really have a representative Assembly? Posing behind insulting comments is about as left wing as a millionaire Corbynite posturing at an Islington dinner party. I really do expect a better level of debate.

  20. I don’t think that being opposed to quotas makes you a misogynist. I myself am in favour of them, across all divides: male, female, ethnicity, and class. But I don’t insult people who disagree because they feel that, as happens to be the case in Plaid, quotas are what stopped, for instance, Dafydd Wigley, from getting elected though he was desperate to return to politics after his party screwed him over and kicked him out. Quotas in Plaid in the last 2 decades have stopped experienced and passionate politicians with high national visibility from returning to politics, and allowed technocrats and jumped up student politicians to take their places and lose ground.

    As a Plaid member I will also alert readers that ‘Trumpism’, ‘Alt Right’, etc are terms specifically used by senior Plaid members to attack McEvoy, and they have told their supporters that that line – and those particular insults – are the ones to use. Whenever you see someone attacking McEvoy for ‘Trump style politics’ or ‘alt-right’ etc you know they’re doing the bidding of certain people at the top of Plaid who are smearing him because they’re afraid of his populism but cannot answer it. In reality, if you look at McEvoy’s campaigns, there’s nothing alt right or Trumpist about them. He is also a far more effective anti-UKIP campaigner at ground level than any of the ‘on-message’ Plaid people I’ve seen.

    A man killed himself a few months ago because of allegations, whether they were right or wrong, that were not properly disclosed to him or the public. Plaid are still doing this to McEvoy.

    The party is in serious and perhaps critical danger, and it’s time people had a word with the party’s top brass and told them to move forward or move aside. This is an absolutely uncharted political situation we have at UK and at Wales level, and we’re not going to get through it unless we change personnel, policies and rhetoric.

  21. Graham John Hathaway

    Whatever or whomsoever the catalyst there is now a growing presence of the word independence in our lexicon. It sometime take a heavy shoulder to move the rock. But where will it roll. The debate needs a wide audience and oxygen. It’s still far too narrow. It’s needs moving away from bashing the current administrations pro or anti. The Union is unfair in sharing. We are a half Nation. We are a ‘lean to’ people with a systemic failure of self confidence and belief, reliant on handouts. The description is Dickensian. I have a feather quill pen still. Honestly, with always a supply of different coloured candles.

    I am sick of the cat and mouse games. Or perhaps more the chicken and the egg. We need the start of the great debate. Ways to a better Wales. There must be a united movement led by the inspiration that made Wales a proud nation. We must start the figh back. Let’s link with Celtic Countries, form an alliance. Build consensus. Share ideas and best practices. Crowd fund for innovation and build pressure. Consider separate trading arrangements, and decision making. Be aware to the notion of alternative ways of doing politics.

    Let’s do it.

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