Stephen Morris, Ein Gwlad Spokesperson
Ein Gwlad has already congratulated Adam Price publicly for his recent victory in the Plaid Cymru leadership election.
It was a compelling victory; had he only won 52% of the final vote, we’d have expected him to demand a re-run because it was too narrow and people can’t have been properly informed.
As it is, he has a clear mandate to lead the party. To the extent that many of our aims are shared in common with Plaid Cymru, we sincerely wish him well.
But what of our new party, Ein Gwlad, in all of this? Are we redundant now that Leanne Wood is gone, and a new chapter has opened up in Plaid Cymru?
Shouldn’t we all, as fellow-Nationalists, pull together to advance our cause?
Well, no. For all sorts of reasons.
Some may recall that our first foray into the media in May this year, long before any Plaid Cymru leadership contest was being talked about, described Plaid Cymru as having been “reduced under Leanne Wood to being Labour’s cheerleaders”.
As things stand, there is no reason to think that things will be all that different under Adam Price.
Since May, Adam Price has suggested sharing the leadership with Leanne Wood, and when all the three candidates in the election were asked to describe themselves in one word he joined her in choosing the word “Socialist”.
In a way, that description is at odds with how he actually won his campaign. When he called for cuts in income tax and the introduction of a Land Value Tax a few days after our official launch on 28th August, some of us felt the urge to check in the mirror that we were still decent before leaving the house – such was the extent to which he’d stolen our clothes.
When he told this site that he wanted to see anger towards our political establishment channelled into hope, we flattered ourselves that he had been reading our material so carefully.
Yet if he now, having won the contest, reverts to type and tries to join in with Labour in seeking Socialist solutions for Wales’s problems, then things will go sour very quickly.
Because there really aren’t any socialist solutions to Wales’ problems. If there were, 100 years of continuous Labour dominance would have found them by now.
As far as we are concerned, nothing has changed about the basic problems that Wales faces, and what needs to be done about them.
Most importantly, the argument needs to be about living standards, not culture. Get the living standards right and culture will follow.
If the best and brightest of our young people carry on having to leave the country to find stimulating and well-paid jobs elsewhere, and if Wales is associated in the public imagination (on both sides of the border) with poverty and failure, or with cheap housing and cheap labour, then all the cultural posturing in the world will only delay the inevitable.
Our membership is spread between the Y Fro Gymraeg (North and South), Pembrokeshire, the Valleys, the Marches and the North East, and our capital city. We are fiercely proud of our country.
Many of us (by no means all) speak the language; but we recognise that the future of our country, and its language and culture, will stand or fall with the ability of our Government to create the conditions for good education, efficient healthcare, modern infrastructure, and an economy that prospers by providing goods and services that people around the world want to buy.
This is where Labour has utterly, catastrophically failed over the decades. This is what we intend to talk about; we think Adam Price would be well advised to do the same, though hopefully in his own words.
Ifan Morgan Jones has already pointed out how hard a job Adam Price will have from now, and has laid out ten very specific challenges that he now faces.
These are good points, and I’ll address some of them below. How do they affect Ein Gwlad?
Well, the first two are about the lack of coherent Welsh media, and the strength of the British media. We think the former is overstated.
It is well known that more and more people get their news online rather than from ‘legacy’ channels such as newspapers and television, and Wales has a healthy culture of Papurau Bro and neighbourhood websites.
Speaking personally, I read wrexham.com and mywelshpool.co.uk almost every day. Nationally, alongside this site there is wales247.co.uk.
If anything, things are getting better, but it may just be that as political parties we have to work harder at getting our message out over more channels.
Ifan goes on to talk about the fraught relationship between Plaid Cymru and the Conservatives. I’ll tell a personal story: the single thing that provoked me to join Plaid Cymru in the early 1990s was a radio programme, an episode of Blewyn o Drwyn on Radio Cymru.
In this episode, Elfyn Llwyd of Plaid Cymru and Wyn Roberts of the Conservatives spent an entertaining half-hour standing shoulder-to-shoulder while ripping into the hapless Labour politician who was also on the panel (I can’t even remember who it was).
I knew then as I know now that the Conservatives are no friends of Wales and are not to be trusted – and yet I was attracted by a party that could, even if only occasionally, identify who it was that was really holding Wales back and make common cause with like-minded people, even if they were Conservatives.
I’d left by the end of the 1990s, seeing that this wasn’t likely to happen anymore, and there’s been precious little evidence of it since.
We shall not enter into a coalition with anyone; our ambition is to become the largest party in Wales in our own right. But until that day we will lend our support to whoever, from any party, seems to us to be pursuing the interests of those who live in Wales.
Ifan’s next points are about Plaid’s lack of connection with ‘ordinary’ Welsh people – people whose main concerns aren’t the future of the Welsh language, or transgender rights, or staying in the EU.
They just want to be treated with dignity, given opportunities to earn a decent living, provided with adequate public services for themselves and their families, and otherwise left alone to live their lives.
Nobody speaks for them: we know that, because it’s how we regarded ourselves before we formed Ein Gwlad, and no-one was speaking for us.
Ein Gwlad will also stand fearlessly for freedom, not only national freedom but individual freedom, away from the statist and top-down thinking which so dominates Plaid/Labour’s worldview.
That will include a renewed commitment to free speech and the right of people to express their opinions openly, without being shut down by a ‘thought police’ mentality.
Let all school of thought contend with each other openly in Wales, and may the best one win.
In the next Senedd elections, whether in 2021 or sooner, Welsh voters will have a choice that they haven’t had before.
Of course, if they want to, they can still vote for managed decline under Labour, polite indifference under the Conservatives, strident progressivism under Plaid Cymru, whatever the fashion of the day may happen to be under the Liberal Democrats (if there still are any) or banner-waving British nationalism under UKIP.
Now though, there is a party which wants to see Wales prosper and succeed, to be a nation to be proud of, which will take good ideas from any quarter and work with people of goodwill from every tradition.
There’s no need to wait until 2021 to add your support, though. Join us now.