It’s time for Plaid Cymru and SNP MPs to abstain from Westminster

UK Parliament/Roger Harris/Handout

Alan Sandry

During a coffee break at a recent London gathering of politicians and journalists, I asked a leading political commentator, “how is Wales perceived in Westminster?” The reply, though disconcerting, did not surprise me. I was informed that we are “a nonentity”.

The endless Anglocentric Brexit debates, allied with the refusal to devolve Air Passenger Duty to Cardiff Airport, and the expansion of Severnside for the benefit of socially mobile English aspirants, display how little clout our representatives have within the current framework of the UK State.

Tie this in with a Secretary of State for Wales who promotes unfettered West Britain integration, and fails to deliver on major projects that would enhance Welsh industry and infrastructure – i.e. rail electrification to the west of Cardiff, and the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon – and a clear picture emerges of indifference, bias and prejudice, which is undoubtedly increasing on a weekly basis.

The casual dismissal of the call to establish a Welsh Justice System is the latest in a very long line of below the belt punches. Jacob Rees-Mogg’s cursory espousal of his love for Wales “as part of the UK”, and his reference to his “Welsh antecedents” personifies the flippant rejection that often greets appeals for Welsh empowerment.

Nevertheless, Alun Cairns aside, there must surely be ample evidence that Wales’ other 39 MPs are hammering away at this English exceptionalism on a daily basis? No, not really! Naturally, a few elected representatives are challenging the status quo, in particular the assiduous Liz Saville Roberts, but on the whole, our Members appear supine and seem to accept the crumbs of comfort – albeit minuscule –that San Steffan lobs our way.

 

Altering the edifice

In order to shake the pillars, and to fix the minds of others on how they view their nation-state and its primary chamber of government, then all Welsh MPs, and Prospective Parliamentary Candidates, should be petitioned to see whether they would support abstentionism. Refraining from sitting in the UK House of Commons (and hopefully, Members of the House of Lords would come on board) would force a structural and constitutional rethink.

Even the most ardent anti-Celtic voices, and there are many, would fear such a move, especially if Scottish MPs also adopted this stance. MPs could then sit at the Senedd, and Holyrood, as ‘additional members’ or in ad hoc advisory and scrutinising capacities.

Whilst British nationalists within the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties would be outraged at any suggestion that they should not sit in Westminster, as they endorse John Bright’s comment that “England is the mother of parliaments”, one would hope that the two national movements, reflected in the UK Parliament by Plaid Cymru and the SNP, would at least give abstentionism some serious consideration.

Our part in the epilogue

On 5th December – a possible General Election date? – the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland will be 97 years old; the Irish Free State Constitution Act being embedded in law on this date in 1922.

There is a very real possibility that the UK, in its present guise, will not see 100. Hence, there will not be a birthday card from Mrs Windsor, whose monarchical Union will inevitable outlive the political one.

Whether Welsh politicians, and political parties, wish to act as pit props for this mouldy, antediluvian system of government is something with which they, and their consciences, must grapple.

In the meantime, whilst they still persist in acting as willing and loyal participants in the Westminster theatre of the absurd, they (and more importantly us) will continue to be seen as ‘nonentities’.

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Clive SwayAnn powellJonathan GammondSibrydionmawrDr D Davies Recent comment authors
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Minydon
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Minydon

Well, if Plaid respected the the result of the referendum they may have had some support,but the have shown they don’t do democracy if the result goes against them. Wales is seen as a non entity due to the fact that we have always sent second rate self serving politicians, mostly labour, who I may add, never cared about Wales as a nation. Wales is not Northern Ireland people expect their MPs to go and represent them, they may get away without attending for one term, but not the second. But if they decide not to attend Westminster, it should… Read more »

Alan Price
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Alan Price

2 questions.
Why would they respect something that is not deserving of respect?
How on earth do you come to the conclusion that the referendum was democratic? It’s sole result was to disenfranchise my children and tie them to the tyranny of the wishes of a host of mostly geriatric racists.

Ann powell
Guest
Ann powell

Really! Must be racist, typical responce of the left to close an argument down that you don’t agree with. One man, one vote, that’s democratic, the majority wins, that’s the system we voted with, that’s democracy, your children were not defranchised they were not old enough to vote, deal with it! And by the way my 18 year old niece at the time could not be called geriatric, and certainly not a racist as her father is a black Cardiff boy , who happened to vote to leave.

Sibrydionmawr
Guest
Sibrydionmawr

You clearly don’t understand what democracy is, but then maybe it’s not your fault, as democracy doesn’t exist in the UK, which is why you can come out with complete bilge and be totally convinced that what you say is true. I have no doubt you’re being sincere, and believe what you’re saying is true, but that doesn’t make it true.

Ann powell
Guest
Ann powell

Democracy doesn’t exist in the uk! Are you serious?

Steve Duggan
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Steve Duggan

When are those who ardently want to leave going to realise democracy is not static and people have the right to vote again on a subject? There is no law that says the 2016 referendum is cast in stone forever. In any case the result should have been seen as void, a 3.8% majority is not a clear consensus of how the country feels. Why did the Tories scrap the super majority attached to it? Well they said it wasn’t needed as it was only an Advisory referendum. The result is now the mess we are in, a divided country.

Penderyn
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Penderyn

Steve your argument would be used to overturn a Welsh indy vote though…..need to be careful

Ann powell
Guest
Ann powell

The government of the day said the vote would be respected, they spent £9000.000 on a leaflet to every household saying that it would be enacted upon and a vote leave would mean, leave the customs union, the single market and the Ecj all parties voted for article 50, or nearly all. And yes people are entitled to change their minds, maybe we should have one to abolish the Welsh assembly!

Sibrydionmawr
Guest
Sibrydionmawr

If you don’t like the Welsh Assembly you’re completely free to move! Freedom of movement hasn’t been abolished between England and Wales, (yet).

Ann powell
Guest
Ann powell

I’m quite happy with the Welsh assembly, in fact it should be a proper parliament of a independent Wales! That does not mean being in a union, any union. You must realise the point I was trying to make, you can’t just reverse democratic votes just becouse you don’t like the result.

Clive Sway
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Clive Sway

That’s like saying if you don’t like Brexit move to France.

David Roberts
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David Roberts

Have been thinking about this lately….on the one hand there is utterly, no point in voting for Plaid in a UK election, as 3 or 4 MP’s out of 600 odd are an utter irrelanance…..it’s all about the Senedd for them (the fact they have less than ZERO chance of forming a Govt in 2021, under their present trajectory is another story.!)
The flipside to this is the SNP are proving to be a right pain in the neck to WM…which is to be applauded……shame Plaid will never be in that position of strength!

Ernie The Smallholder
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Ernie The Smallholder

Ask yourself why Plaid has not had the success in the past as SNP ? Is it because people are so willing to give up on Plaid so quickly ? The SNP has had setbacks in the past. The fact that unlike Scotland, Wales does not have its own English speaking media putting Welsh issues to our population? We need to build a good information network to discuss futures for our country. Plaid Cymru CAN win those seats in South Wales and North East Wales it needs to form the next government in the Senedd at Cardiff Bay. We can… Read more »

Ann powell
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Ann powell

They wont win south Wales they’ve just ignored them, and told them their vote doesn’t count because the didn’t know what they voted for, and gone completely against them, they have lost all credibility as a so called democratic party.

H.thomas
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H.thomas

Never going to do well in south east wales, as not keen on English speaking Welsh nationals

Sibrydionmawr
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Sibrydionmawr

That’s actually not true, and has almost never been, except perhaps for the very earliest years. Since WWII Plaid has actually ensured that it made appeals to the people in South Wales. However, it’s true to say that the press, and especially the Labour Party have presented Plaid as the party of Welsh speakers. The lack of a any national Welsh media. let alone a bad one is responsible for this. If people don’t know the truth they’ll tend to believe any old rubbish peddled by those with an agenda. It’s true to say however that Plaid these days does… Read more »

Dr D Davies
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Dr D Davies

The situation for Plaid is even more dire. I suspect to try and appeal to Labour voters of the South and South East they have ignored or largely dismissed the plight of Welsh speaking communities and the Plaid seats of Ceredigion and Arfon are now vulnerable Instead Plaid have been branding themselves as ‘left wing’ and Socialists’ yet we see very little reference to the socialist theories or any real analysis of a socialist economy. Rather it’s an Elastoplast on the symptoms of capitalism- that is a pick and mix of any popular cause of the day. Plaid further compounds… Read more »

David Roberts
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David Roberts

I have voted for them for nearly 30 years,,,,,,but no more!!!

Penderyn
Guest
Penderyn

I think by not voting for Plaid Cymru …. you are fulfilling the very prophecy you moan about…irony is a common dish served in life

Sibrydionmawr
Guest
Sibrydionmawr

Agreed, small numbers are an irrelevance. But 40 MPs amongst 659 is insignificant too!

Ann powell
Guest
Ann powell

Just as insignificant as the four seats Wales has , out of the 721 in the European parliament!

Alan Price
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Alan Price

Excellent article, Alan. Well written (for a scaffolder ?)

Max Wallis
Guest
Max Wallis

scrap the myth that Shorrock’s Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon was a sound project. Designed to milk subsidies, demanding much more than even the quite uneconomic Hinkley Point C, and 2-3 times the cost of a realistic prototype Tidal Lagoon. The Welsh Govenrment was to blame for giving support without any attempt to make it a realistic project and blind-eyes to corrupt siphoning-off funds, even throwing £200M at it with no critical examination. Carwyn’s irresponsibility as with other scam mega-projects (‘Circuit of Wales’; LG). Scottish success in renewable energy projects shows up the failed Welsh model of supporting-entrepreneurs. A policy of… Read more »

David Roberts
Guest
David Roberts

Tidal Lagoon was the worst plan ever……an Economic disaster & an environmental catastrophe!!!! Would have destroyed our beautiful bay forever…..allo so some far off fat cats could milk at, at the expense of taxpayers and local electricity payers!!

Penderyn
Guest
Penderyn

Tidal lagoon owned by a gloucester corporation with no plans to help Swansea/Abertawe’s actual community

Joanne Davies
Guest
Joanne Davies

No need for Plaid to abstain. I doubt they’ll return any MPs at the next election. Maybe just Liz SR.

Huw Davies
Guest
Huw Davies

Abstain only if you plan to secede. Otherwise go there and make a real bloody nuisance, hold the Government and the whole place to account for its neglect of Wales, Scotland and other “regions” of the UK. However I suspect that most of our M.P’s enjoy participating in the institution that defends the right of the relatively few to profit at the expense of the majority.

Rhosddu
Guest
Rhosddu

Exactly right. Wait for Brexit to do its worst, then win the 2021 Senedd election with a commitment to independence. Until then, if you’re considered a nonentity, it doesn’t matter whether you’re there or not. Wales is in a no-win situation at Westminster currently. Only a ‘full house’ of Plaid Cymru MPs for every Welsh Westminster seat would achieve a change of approach towards Wales from the representatives of English constituencies – perhaps! At the moment, there is no point in the Plaid MPs (counted on one hand) being there. You only have to watch Welsh Questions, and see Cairns… Read more »

Ben Angwin
Guest
Ben Angwin

Aping Sinn Féin bodes but conflict in the asymmetry it feeds.

Jonathan Gammond
Guest
Jonathan Gammond

Abstentionism is one approach, which Sinn Fein have adopted in relation to Westminster. It is a very debatable point whether that has actually achieved much and there have been plenty of occasions when politicians and the political discourse at Westminster (and beyond) would have benefited from hearing their viewpoint since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. You only have to look at the choices made in Belgium, Italy, Spain, Romania, the former Czechoslovakia and other countries, to realize that not turning up is not the most effective approach. There is a tendency here in Wales to always compare ourselves… Read more »