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‘I was considered right wing at university’ says Mark Drakeford

29 Mar 2022 3 minutes Read
Picture by the Welsh Government

The First Minister has said that he was considered right-wing at university – because everyone else was so far to his left.

Speaking on the podcast Full Disclosure with James O’Brian he said that he had little interest in Marxist debates at university because they “completely divorced” from what he thought would make a difference in people’s lives.

“I joined the Labour party before I went to college, and when I went to college, to belong to the Labour Party was to cast you into the far-right of the political spectrum,” he said.

“Because the contest would be between the international Marxist group and some other splinter of the same sort. If you said you belonged to the Labour Party it was to be in the far, unspeakable right of the spectrum.

“I used to sit in the student’s union – I went to the University of Kent – and listen to debates about ‘were the working class of Canterbury about to rise’.

“And I used to say, well we can go and ask them. Because there are only about three of them. And we’ll find out. But this didn’t stop the interminable debates on this sort of topic.”

He added: “I definitely had no interest at all in student politics. It just seemed to me completely divorced from the kinds of things I had been interested in that might make some sort of practical difference.”

‘Boundary’

Mark Drakeford said that he himself however did not come across much right-wing politics growing up in Carmarthenshire, and that the Conservative candidate inevitably came last in elections.

“Aneurin Bevan says he was 21 before he met a Tory and I often say that we have to make sure we create the same opportunities for our young people,” he said.

He denied however that he was a Welsh nationalist: “I had a think from the very beginning about ‘are you a nationalist or are you a socialist?’ And I knew then that I wasn’t a nationalist. I’m not a nationalist and I never have been.

“I’m fiercely Welsh and that matters to me very much. Just the outlook it gives to you on life and all that.

“But if you’re a nationalist you have to think that the accident of geography is more important than social class. I don’t believe that.

“I think the people of Wales have more in common with people like them in England and Scotland and other places, than they do just because someone happens to have been born on one side of a boundary or another.”


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Richard Jenkins
Richard Jenkins
1 month ago

Cymru has remained true to Socialism for 100 yrs. consistent in their loyalty to Labour (Welsh Branch). To what end? Poorest nation in the U.K. one of the poorest nations in Europe. Yet we have a greater GDP per capita than Spain. The answer is not to sacrifice the well being of your own people on the ineffectual altar of internationalism but to take responsibility for our own affairs & in that way demonstrate to our comrades in the rUK that there is a better way!

Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
1 month ago

It’s wrong to suggest, as Mark Drakeford appears to be doing, that socialism and Welsh independence are incompatible. The fact of the matter is in an independent Wales he’d be able to fully put his socialist ideals into practice – something he cannot do while many of the major economic levers affecting Wales remain in the control of Westminster. As for his comments about ‘boundaries’ – he’d presumably have opposed irish independence to on the same grounds.

Last edited 1 month ago by Leigh Richards
Richard Jenkins
Richard Jenkins
1 month ago
Reply to  Leigh Richards

He seems to forget it’s not the accident of geography it’s the accident of culture & language! As you say, would he use the same argument to deny Jamaica or other ex colonies the right to self determination. He’s still a crazy, mixed up kid whose heart is probably in the right place.

Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
1 month ago

Alas Richard there are many in Welsh labour who hold the same mistaken view that welsh independence and socialism are mutually exclusive. Also strange that while many in welsh labour would describe themselves as ‘internationalists’ their internationalism doesnt seem to extend to Wales’ right to self determination

CJPh
CJPh
1 month ago
Reply to  Leigh Richards

The more grounded “democratic socialists” (who tend to be social democrats who want slightly more state control of parts of the economy and a large social safety net a la Scandinavia) are far, far more receptive to the idea of indy. They also tend to be above 30, susceptible to fear-based and irrational counterpoint as opposed to any truly pro-union ones and seem to hold “working class” as a genuine cultural marker above their welshness (like Mark Drakeford). The concept of an independent Wales is not a party-political issue. We need a new word. I am not a ‘nationalist’ and… Read more »

Arwyn
Arwyn
1 month ago

Some of the things Drakeford says makes me warm to him. What he said about the “working class of Cantebury” made me laugh out loud. My Dad used to teach there back in the sixties. He knew one other Welshman there. He was conspicuous by his garden. All the front gardens were ornately kept and manicured except one which was turned over to growing vegetables in the style of a miner’s back garden. Dad used to describe it as an oasis of Welshness where he knew he’d always be welcome. I don’t agree with Drakeford’s depiction of nationalism. I guess… Read more »

Rhosddu
Rhosddu
1 month ago

Drakeford’s importance to Wales is that he’s thoroughly committed to devolution, and his desire to strengthen it is in harmony with majority Welsh opinion. He has been forced on to a war footing in the face of muscular unionism’s ongoing assault on Welsh devolution. He needs to use the limited powers that the current settlement gives him in order to address the worst issues currently facing our country while he still can. He is, in effect, now obliged to be a reluctant Welsh patriot who, while not abandoning his Bevanite view of the priority of issues of socio-economic class of… Read more »

Marc
Marc
1 month ago

To say one can be either a Nationalist or a Socialist is completely wrong, what one cannot be is a Unionist and a Socialist. One wonders if The First Minister really believes his own words? I think not.

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