Dear Welsh politics: Political point scoring after a terrorist attack isn’t a good look

Picture: National Assembly (CC BY 2.0)


Ifan Morgan Jones

Leanne Wood has been criticised by the Conservatives and UKIP for a Twitter comment calling ISIS ‘far-right’ following yesterday’s terrible attacks in Barcelona that left 14 dead.

Leanne Wood did do something wrong here, which was to speculate on the nature of a terrorist attack before the police confirmed the details.

Doing so always leaves you open to accusations of attempting to make political capital out of a tragic event. As a seasoned politician, she should know better.

For that, she may want to apologise, although it’s unlikely that it was her intent.

But the Conservative and UKIP’s criticism go beyond what would seem reasonable in such circumstances:

  • The Leader of the Welsh Conservatives,  Andrew RT Davies, said it was “unbelievable” that Wood had said that it might be linked to a far-right group.
  • AM Janet Finch-Saunders suggested that Leanne Wood should resign as Plaid Cymru party leader.
  • UKIP called the tweet a ‘smear’.

First of all, it’s unclear why UKIP and the Conservatives have a problem with Leanne Wood calling ISIS ‘far-right’.

Surely they don’t consider themselves to be far-right, so who exactly is being slandered by this association?

Being a conservative and far-right are two very different things, like being a socialist and being Stalin.

Calling ISIS ‘far-right’ would seem to be a pretty accurate description. Here are some of the things they believe in:

  • They believe in the suppression of any groups that disagree with their vision
  • They revere powerful military leaders
  • They glorify violence
  • They are ultraconservative in their attitudes to people’s rights
  • They are ultraconservative in attempting to recreate a society dating from hundreds of years ago
  • They want to upend the established order and create a new society in its place

They are fascists. Their ideology isn’t that different from the Nazis, although they would consider themselves to be on opposing sides.

And since fascists are usually called ‘far-right’ I’m not sure why Leanne Wood’s comments were especially controversial.

It’s not clear what the point of this sustained criticism of Leanne Wood is, beyond the kind of political point scoring the Plaid Cymru leader is being accused of.

This is, of course, all going on in the aftermath of a terrorist attack that has killed 14 and left many more injured.

Perhaps all involved should step back and think about the bigger picture.

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