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Welsh Labour should avoid Scottish Labour’s ‘massive mistake’ of being labelled a unionist party says Senedd candidate

14 Mar 2021 4 minute read
Cian Ireland

Welsh Labour should avoid Scottish Labour’s “massive mistake” of being branded a unionist party, a Senedd candidate has said.

Cian Ireland, who is contesting Dwyfor Meirionnydd for the Labour party on May 6, said that constitutional issues should be a means to an end for the party, not an end in themselves.

He is one of thee pro-independence candidates being put forward by the party in theMid and West Wales region, alongside Dylan Lewis-Rowlands in Ceredigion and Ben Gwalchmai on the regional list.

Their selection stands in marked contrast to Scotland where Glasgow Kelvin candidate Hollie Cameron was dropped by the party for voicing her support for independence.

“I think characterising the Labour party as a unionist party almost misses the point of the Labour party,” Cian Ireland told Brig, the student newspaper of the University of Stirling.

“I don’t think anyone got into the Labour party for the sake of discussing constitutional issues primarily. The constitutional issue for a lot of us is just a means to an end, which I think is very different to the Conservative party for example which is a pure unionist party – defending the union is one of their almost core principals.”

“I think it’s an interesting point concerning our involvement in Better Together amidst Scottish independence. By doing that we allowed ourselves to be labelled as a unionist party – from my perspective it was a massive mistake to do this.

“I think we should have run our own campaign separately at the time on different issues, but hindsight is 2020.”

Dwyfor Meirionnydd will also be contested by Plaid Cymru candidate Mabon ap Gwynfor and Conservative candidate Charlie Evans after the independent incumbent, current Deputy Minister for Culture Dafydd Elis-Thomas, announced his intention to step down.


Despite being in the minority within Welsh Labour as an independence supporting candidate, Cian Ireland said that there was a lot of common ground across the party.

“I think firstly it’s important to differentiate the position of the Welsh Labour party relative to the rest of the UK,” he said.

“In 2002 Rhodri Morgan made his famous ‘Clear Red Water’ speech to differentiate Welsh Labour from the main party. It’s something Mark Drakeford (First Minister of Wales) wrote himself to differentiate from Labour under Blair in the early days.

“I think that tradition has continued throughout the two decades of Welsh Labour governments. We have consistently done things differently from the rest of the UK, and I think that the way we are approaching the constitutional question is a real testament to this.

“We are able to have a much wider debate, and a really good debate that has been growing over time.

“There was an event only two nights ago where we had federalist MS’s as well as pro-indy candidates having these discussions and it’s really important, but also done in a comradely way because I think a lot of what we want as pro-indy candidates are along very similar lines to what the federalists want. We just have different ways of achieving it,” he said.

“I think there is a huge amount of common ground between us all. I think if we want to build towards independence it’s going to inevitably result in devolving more powers and building institutions that would be required for creating an independent nation in the first place.

“So there is a lot of common ground between myself and fellow candidates in the upcoming election that don’t believe in independence. I think there’s much more room for dialogue within the party.

“I am thankful that we are able to have that debate within the party and have that broad range of views, while coming together on the important issues such as raking care of the country of Wales and how we support the trade union movement, aswell as addressing numerous other major concerns within Wales.”

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