Do Corbyn’s supporters know Labour are in power in Wales?

Jeremy Corbyn. Picture: Garry Knight (CC BY 2.0)


Ifan Morgan Jones

Why don’t Momentum and Jeremy Corbyn put pressure on Labour to implement their policies in Wales, where they’re actually in power?

Almost weekly, we see Labour call for one thing at an UK level and do something different in Wales.

This week it’s been the turn of tuition fees. Don’t raise them in England, cries Jeremy Corbyn, while Welsh Labour got busy doing so in Wales.

I did a quick content analysis on Twitter to find out how often Corbyn and his followers mention Wales. It turned out to be very quick because there was so little to work with.

Jeremy Corbyn had only ever mentioned Wales 15 times. Apart from one rather ambiguous tweet about the NHS I couldn’t find any mention of the fact that Labour are in power here.

Momentum had only mentioned Wales twice, and both in the context of campaigning for Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

This strikes me as odd, because you would think that an insurgent movement committed to creating a socialist utopia via the Labour party would want to start off where the party is already in power.

They already control the NHS and education in Wales – two subjects Momentum campaign hard on.

There are four possible explanations here:

The first is that UK Labour are respecting Welsh Labour’s independence. Fair enough, but I don’t think that’s the case.

Compare Wales with Scotland, about which Jeremy Corbyn tweets frequently – often attacking the SNP and promising that Labour would do things differently.

And there are thousands of Momentum members in Wales. Surely, they would have something to say about how Labour is running their own country?

The second explanation is that they don’t actually realise they’re in power in Wales, or at least, what powers they have.

This is perfectly possible in the case of many grassroots Labour supporters. I see many friends who live in Wales sharing Momentum, Canary and AAV Facebook posts about the NHS and education.

They seem mostly oblivious to the fact that:

  1. they have already got their wish of a Labour government that controls the NHS and education.
  2. that Labour government is doing many of the same things they’re complaining about.

Of course, Labour themselves know they’re in power in Wales, and so, presumably, do Momentum.

The third explanation, therefore, is that having a Labour government in Wales is actually pretty inconvenient, because their record on the NHS and education is worse than both the SNP and the Conservatives.

But I don’t quite buy this either. Momentum has not held back from criticising elements within the rest of the Labour party, so why not criticise Welsh Labour as well?

After all, aren’t they just another Blairite hold out waiting to be purged? Isn’t their centrist ideology why they’ve failed in Wales? There’s an argument there if they would care to look for it.

Alas, no. I suspect that at the end of the day the truth is explanation number four: that campaigning for a socialist utopia is just more fun than actually being in power and making it happen.

Just like Trump’s MAGA supporters have had to lower their ambitions from building a wall to renovating an old fence, I suspect that the day Jeremy Corbyn actually becomes PM is the day the fun will stop for many Momentum members.

It’s a shame Momentum won’t engage with Welsh Labour. Their energetic brand of campaigning and huge social media following could actually do a lot to raise awareness of Wales’ Labour government and hold them to account.

They could reinvigorate a very stagnant Welsh politics.

So please, Momentum, see here: your days of wandering the desert are over. I have found your promised land! A land where 50% of the population support Labour, whatever they do.

You don’t even have to wait until the General Election. You can start right now!

What’s that? You’re too busy trying to make a funny meme about Jacob Rees-Mogg go viral? Ok then, let me know when you’re finished.

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