Steffan Lewis AM
Corbyn’s speech at Labour’s recent conference confirmed that Welsh nationhood is under threat from both British Statism and British Nationalism.
The late Dr Phil Williams, would often tell of how he came to find a home in the national movement via a brief flirtation with the British Left.
In his book ‘A Voice from the Valleys’ he describes how at one British Left meeting he listened to speakers talk about how Britain could “lead the world in socialism”.
He saw that the same self-indulgent need to see the British State “lead” or dominate globally infected the Left as much as the Right.
The politics of the contemporary British State (or more accurately ‘England and Wales’) is polarising around a new false choice: British Statism represented by Corbyn’s Labour and British Nationalism lead by the Brexit-obsessed Tory party.
But both apparently competing paradigms represent precisely the same threat to Wales: both propositions lead to the same destination; a Wales asset-stripped, politically weakened and culturally over-run.
Imposing London’s will
Corbyn’s policy platform, expressed in Brighton, seeks the centralisation of power over resources, utilities and public services away from Wales and Welsh communities and into the hands of British Ministers.
This is consistent with the Tory approach of using Brexit as a means of legislating to take away powers from our already feeble institutions so that Welsh control over resources, the economy and public services is limited, at best.
When Mr Corbyn talks of ‘nationalisation’ his nation isn’t England, it’s the UK. Think of how ‘nationalisation’ of utilities (such as water) from a not-for-profit Welsh company for example, to a London minister might work out.
That would result in a modern-day Bessie Braddock draining Wales against its interests.
Centralisation is key to Corbyn’s dream of an emboldened British State and for that reason he is opposed to the UK remaining in the European Single Market on a permanent basis. He would rather impose UK frameworks on rural affairs, state aid and natural resources upon us than continue to comply with European rules or recognise our right to decide for ourselves.
The temptation in the current context is to attempt to distinguish between Labour and the Tories but there is a commonality between them that poses the greatest threat to Welsh nationhood: the reshaping of the British State in order to centralise power in London and impose their will, using a dislike of big corporations on one hand or foreign institutions on the other as justification.
The British State is in a state of crisis; it is no longer a global military power, it is approaching a debt of two trillion pounds, it has lost its closest ally due to that nation’s protectionism and it is about to leave the biggest trading bloc on earth at a huge cost.
These are circumstances where the case for Wales must be made.
The Tories response to the UK crisis is to re-invent a British nationalism and reaffirm Westminster’s sovereignty over us and use its many outlets to belittle and insult our distinct identity and culture.
Labour’s response is to create a centralised state to steam-roller over any divergence or distinctions we may seek to peruse for ourselves.
The last UK general election saw a re-emergence of the old two-party politics, with both parties welcoming the opportunity to present an old-fashioned left/right phoney war. For us in the national movement to try and engage on those terms would be futile and, more importantly, contrary to the national interest.
It’s not enough to simply describe where we sit on the political spectrum. We must be loud and clear about our nation and its future being our over-riding priority.
We must reshape our politics for the purpose of Wales flourishing as the British State withdraws unto itself – either through the path of Corbyn statism or Tory nationalism – or Wales will be swallowed up with it.