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Wales ignored in Starmer essay – but he slams ‘multi-headed hydra of nationalism’

23 Sep 2021 3 minutes Read
Keir Starmer (CC BY 2.0).

Wales is only mentioned once and the Welsh Government not at all in a 11,000 word essay by Keir Starmer setting out what he stands for on the eve of Labour party conference in Brighton.

However, despite Welsh Labour being in co-operation talks with nationalist party Plaid Cymru, the Labour leader attacks the “‘multi-headed hydra of nationalism” and says that it is “pushing apart our country and tearing at the social fabric”.

In his essay The Road Ahead, published by the Fabian Society think tank, Keir Starmer sets out ten principles that underpin his vision for the country, including: “We are proudly patriotic but we reject the divisiveness of nationalism.”

Even though it is the only nation in the UK where Labour hold power, Wales is mentioned once while discussing the challenges faced by the NHS during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Inspired by the ambition of Wales and New Zealand, and the experiences of the pandemic that kept our minds and bodies healthy, Labour would put wellbeing at the heart of government decision-making,” Keir Starmer says.

The attack on nationalism makes up a large part of the essay, with the Labour leader contrasting it with his own “patriotism”.

“Most immediately damaging to our country has been the rise of the multi-headed hydra of nationalism,” he says.

“The Conservatives and the Scottish National Party may define themselves against each other, but their politics is symbiotic, requiring one another to sustain and grow.

“Both the SNP and the Conservatives use culture to distract and deflect, creating division between people of these islands. The business of effective governance and improving people’s lives comes second to ideology. Both use nationalism freely to whip up fear of the other.”

“Nationalists like to portray themselves as patriots. But patriotism and nationalism are not the same. In fact, they are opposites.

“Nationalism represents an attempt to divide people from one another; patriotism is an attempt to unite people of different backgrounds.

“Nationalism is about the casting out of the other; patriotism is about finding common ground. Nationalism is the flag as a threat. Patriotism is the flag as a celebration.”

By contrast, he argues, Labour should be “proudly patriotic” but “reject the divisiveness of nationalism”.

Banalities

The essay comes after the Labour leader has been consistently criticised from within his own party for failing to make clear to the public what he stands for.

However, the essay received a mixed response online, with left-leaning Labour pundit Owen Jones calling it “mesmerisingly bad. Terribly written, a mishmash of clichés, platitudes and banalities.”

Jon Stone, Policy Correspondent on the Independent, said: “If you’ve not read Keir Starmer‘s essay it’s basically like if they did a Christmas annual of Labour press releases.”

The Hiraeth Podcast noted the lack of mention of Wales in the document: “There is one mention of Wales in 14,000 words. Have UK Labour deliberately ignored its most successful electoral winning machine? Or worse, do they not even remember it exists?”

The Guardian’s columnist Rafael Behr said: “It’s a necklace of platitudes strung together with banalities, fastened with cliché.”

Sam Coates, Deputy Political Editor of Sky News noted that while Keir Starmer sees “nationalism as a threat” he “doesn’t mention talks in Wales between Labour and Plaid”.

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Sion Cwilt
Sion Cwilt
1 month ago

If anything is ‘tearing’ the union apart, it’s the sheer venality of the Tories and the p**s poor opposition of Labour cemented by the neoliberal ideological austerity of them both. If Starmer can’t see that this alone is what has lost them Scotland, and could well also lose them Wales if Llafur actually decides to secede in order to stave off a rout when Labour again gets a drubbing in the Westminster election. We already know that much of Plaid Lafur’s support is at least indy curious, and could very easily could come so much more so should social, economic… Read more »

Kerry Davies
Kerry Davies
1 month ago
Reply to  Sion Cwilt

The sensible family accepts divergence and independence. Anything else ends in tears and enmity so when any English politician pontificates about non-English nationalism in the UK they are mistaking a natural desire for self-hood with rebellious rejection.

When they enforce their centralising, colonialist views on a junior partner is when the **** really does hit the fans.

Erisian
Erisian
1 month ago

Hands up anybody who was honestly expecting something better!

hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago
Reply to  Erisian

Exactly. The man and his party are wedded to Unionism regardless of what some of them may say.

George
George
1 month ago

“Just wait til you get to see the Kier Starmer we know,” they said.

To be fair, the bigger issue is that how the key advisers and allies within each faction of the Labour party really don’t want to work with each other. Doesn’t really matter who the leader is in those circumstances.

Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
1 month ago

Another uk labour leader who doesnt seem to know Wales exists 🤔 ☹️ but hey what’s new in that?

Gareth Wyn Jones
Gareth Wyn Jones
1 month ago

Pathetic little man, pathetic little Labour

j humphrys
j humphrys
1 month ago

Anyone remember the working class? Now they just shove a box in supermarkets so the struggling/working class can feed their kids.
We in Cymru want better than that, for all! We are not England.

Last edited 1 month ago by j humphrys
Grayham Jones
1 month ago

This why we need a new wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 kick all English party’s out of wales that’s the Tories Labour and all Brexit party’s stop being little Englanders and and be proud to be welsh it’s time for a new wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 A Free Wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 get the people in your town’s out voting for new wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿

Cymru Cymraeg
Cymru Cymraeg
1 month ago

It appears that the Welsh Labour party and the UK Labour now have far less in common than the Tories and Labour in England.

SundanceKid
SundanceKid
29 days ago
Reply to  Cymru Cymraeg

They may as well call it quits. I’ve heard that even some senior Labour figures in Wales have no love for Starmer or Labour HQ.

GW Atkinson
GW Atkinson
1 month ago

Funny how the English never criticise their own far right nationalism while the nationalism in Wales and Scotland is more left wing than his sh1tty party.

GW Atkinson
GW Atkinson
1 month ago

Wales is the only country in the UK where Labour are in power and the Britnat rat completely ignores our country and the only government his failure of a party is involved with. No wonder the Tory scum are in power when their opposition are so inept and just basically trying to ape them. What do English Labour offer different to the Tories? Absolutely nothing. Why can’t English Labour use Welsh Labour as an example to show the English what they are like in government? Are the English that xenophobic towards Wales that they see it as a negative that… Read more »

SundanceKid
SundanceKid
29 days ago
Reply to  GW Atkinson

England would not vote for, nor accept the sort of left-leaning government that Wales and Scotland has. That should tell us something about this so-called “united” kingdom, so even Starmer cannot use Wales as a template for what their party could achieve in Westminster. Plus, he doesn’t want to be shown up.

Shan Morgain
1 month ago

Not surprised. Starmer has increasingly shown himself as a copycat Tory.

Quornby
Quornby
1 month ago

Will Labour ever walk the walk? I doubt it. I’m surprised the establishment apologist mentioned Wales even once.. Don’t ask him if some future Labour English government will hand over our HST2 differentials, his brain might implode.

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
1 month ago

Says everything you need to know about Labour, why the so-called ‘indy-curious’ still vote for them I don’t know. If they were serious about independence they would vote Plaid and abandon Labour just as Scottish Labour voters abandoned Labour for the SNP. The contempt that the English have for the people of Wales is unbelievable. You would expect this from the Tories but you would have thought Labour would be better than this. Clearly not, they have has much contempt for us as most English do. They don’t believe we are capable of governing ourselves and that we need to… Read more »

Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
1 month ago

“Nationalism represents an attempt to divide people from one another”
Not necessarily, we can have independence and yet still work very closely with our neighbours while at the same time having the ability to say – no – we do not want to go in that direction as it will not benefit us in Wales. Something at the moment we can not do 100% and which puts our country at a huge disadvantage.

R W
R W
1 month ago

Starmer complaints about nationalism whilst he increasingly wraps himself around the union flag. Can you also smell the stench of hypocrisy?

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
1 month ago
Reply to  R W

Union flag? I think you mean the butcher’s apron.

R W
R W
1 month ago
Reply to  Barry Pandy

Yes, that”s the one I mean.

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
1 month ago

So Starmer doesn’t like nationalism. In that case he would have been opposed to the independence movements of Ireland, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Singapore, Kenya, Uganda, ‘British’ Somalia, Tanzania, Nigeria, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Jamaica, the Bahamas etc. etc. etc (I could list every single former colony but this would end up being a very long post). If nationalism is such a bad thing then Starmer must also believe that the independence movements for the former colonies were fundamentally wrong. Perhaps he should tell that to e.g. the Indian or Irish people and see how he gets on. I wonder… Read more »

Notta Bott
Notta Bott
1 month ago

I hate when a unionist says “our country” or nation. The union isn’t a country, Britain is an area, and island. They mean England and they mean that we are taking away resources and ownership from them, they see us as their thing.

Wrexhamian
Wrexhamian
1 month ago

If the summary presented above of Starmer’s essay is anything to go by, then whoever wrote it for him was only addressing one “nation”, namely Britain — a fictitious national entity whose promotion inevitably conflicts with the “four nations” interpretation popularl accepted in the non-English countries of the UK. The result is British “patriotism” versus Celtic “nationalism”. He is scared of Scotland, and dismisses Wales with one reference. His essay could just as easily have been written by the Tory Government.

Tyson Taylor
Tyson Taylor
29 days ago

You can be guaranteed that whatever colonialist policies the Tories foist upon Wales there is NO chance that Starmer would ever repeal them if elected. The only difference is the colour of their rossettes.

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