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Opinion

Keir is taking the P**s now

03 Jun 2024 6 minute read
Photo by Stefan Räuschel from Pixabay

Gwern Gwynfil

To my surprise and delight my family took me away for a few days this half term to celebrate my birthday.

We went to Belgium and did a little tour of Ostend, Bruges and Brussels (more on this later). To make the most of this lovely gift I chose to switch off from the news and election campaigns. It was great.

This morning I was incredibly dismayed to discover that whilst I was away, the already frustratingly safe seat in which I have my vote has had a new Labour candidate appointed from on high.

One of Keir Starmer’s inner circle, one of the enforcers of his new party discipline and one of the architects of the suppression and removal of those considered to be ‘too left-wing’.

No doubt the new Labour candidate for Cardiff West, Alex Barros-Curtis, is a bright chap with much to offer but he is not someone with the knowledge or understanding to represent Cardiff West or Wales in Westminster.

This is not someone who will speak up and fight for Welsh interests. He’s been gifted a safe seat so that he can put party first at all times.

Suck it up, Buttercup

If you believe in democracy then safe seats and first past the post already suck.

If you believe in democracy, having someone who is unrepresentative, both of who you are and where you’re from, sucks.

If you’re a Labour activist in Cardiff West, having a random stranger parachuted in to be your appointed ‘local’ leader and representative sucks, big time.

If you’re an ambitious party member, who has given long years to representing that party in your area, with ambitions to do so at the highest level, who finds that the opportunity to merely ask for such a privilege has been abruptly snatched away, this sucks.

It sucks that regular voters won’t even know that they’re having a political stooge imposed from on high by those who apparently know best.

Media coverage and political engagement are so malnourished that the reality of the contempt with which party managers in London are treating the electorate of Cardiff West simply won’t cut through. This sucks too.

Taking the P**s

I’m not a Labour party member, I’ve always been a politically engaged, open minded, floating voter, but I was furious when I realised that Keir Starmer and Labour central in London were taking the piss out of Wales so blatantly by imposing candidates on Cardiff West and Swansea West.

I cannot imagine how upset and angry I would be if I was a Welsh Labour activist.

Cardiff West was Rhodri Morgan’s seat until 2001. He was succeeded by the retiring MP, Kevin Brennan, who has always been very close to the Welsh Labour hierarchy and party machinery.

That close connection with the wider Welsh Labour movement will disappear for Cardiff West on Friday 5th July when the new MP’s election is confirmed.

The Wrong Person

It is almost certain that some guy from London, who barely knows anything about his constituency, has only the vaguest notions about Wales, doesn’t follow (let alone support) the Cymru national sides in Rugby, Football or any other sport, will be responsible for representing the interests of Wales and the people of Cardiff West in Parliament.

A job for which he is eminently unqualified no matter how bright and talented he may be in other ways.

This is equally true for the think tank director, Thorsten Bell, who has similarly been parachuted into Swansea West.

For Wales, Labour isn’t Working

I’m angry about all of this. If I was a member of the Labour party in Wales I would be incandescent with rage. How wide must the gulf between Welsh Labour and Labour HQ become before activists in Wales realise that this just isn’t working?

Putting the party first relentlessly simply isn’t adding any value for Wales politically, it isn’t adding any value for the people of Wales, it isn’t adding any value to the governance or government of Wales.

The lack of democracy, the taking for granted, the contempt, indifference and disinterest keep mounting up and yet, here in Wales, Labour keeps the faith. Blind to the reality that things won’t change, blind to the knowledge that they are being abused in service of an agenda which has no relevance to their actual interest and needs.

A Brighter, Better Wales

 I enjoyed my trip to Belgium but it reminded me visibly and forcefully of how far behind so much of the UK has fallen. As time passes we are becoming relatively poorer and more discontented than our European peers. They are outperforming us consistently on every single metric.

It doesn’t need to be this way.

It shouldn’t be this way.

But this is the way it is.

I agree with Starmer that what we need is change. But his Labour is not that change for Wales. It will be more of the same.

Muscular Unionism with scant regard for equitable treatment for Wales and indifference to the needs of the people of Wales. Exploitation of Welsh resources with scant reward for Wales and the people of Wales. Welsh priorities at the very bottom of every intray, ignored consistently.

There will be crumbs I’m sure, enough to keep us quiescent, enough to keep the pot simmering so that they can continue to take Wales for granted.

This will be the case until Labour in Wales wakes up and rediscovers Rhodri Morgan’s ‘clear red water’. Rediscovers it and takes it forward so that it becomes a clear red canyon. By all means have a bridge to UK Labour but get your own bank account and be your own party.

This will stop the parachutes, this will give you a voice for Wales, this will let you truly represent the people of Wales.


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Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
2 days ago

Diolch Gwern. 100%. am eich gwaith dda.

Gwern Gwynfil
Gwern Gwynfil
2 days ago
Reply to  Fi yn unig

Diolch!
A chroeso – ymlaen!

James Wilson
James Wilson
2 days ago

Great words. True words.
How to get the message to the voter that they are being truly had by Party bureaucracy that doesn’t appear to understand their needs and identity and actually doesn’t care that it doesn’t

Gwern Gwynfil
Gwern Gwynfil
2 days ago
Reply to  James Wilson

Diolch James

This is one of the big challenges across all mature democracies but I think especially so today here in Wales

With notable exceptions like Nation we are bereft of a diverse media with decent penetration across a wide and diverse audience

Politically there is nowhere near enough original thought, and where it exists there is often a lack of boldness in its expression

Where is the excitement that people need to feel to energise them and rekindle the knowledge that politics matters – to them personally and in its impact on the wider world in which they live?

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
1 day ago
Reply to  Gwern Gwynfil

Puts me in mind of the harsh words Caradoc Evans once wrote about the Eisteddfod Gendlaethol, that it celebrates mediocrity. It seems that mediocrity plays well in the Welsh political sphere. One could perhaps understand it coming from Labour with their 100 plus year rule of Wales, but Plaid Cymru has no excuse for being bland and unimaginative. The mess in which Welsh Labour finds itself is a golden opportunity for Plaid. They won’t make any headway at this Westminster election, as getting the Tories out is obviously the focus, but it’s two years until the next Senedd elections (and… Read more »

SImmo
SImmo
2 days ago

This article brings home something that I have pondered – how to have a representative MP who is working for their constituents, but who then runs the country on the side?! Admittedly, Torsten Bell is not in any ministerial position (yet!), but I have no doubt there are aspirations there. The idea of Rishi Sunak holding a surgey in Richmond, fielding rural constituency level concerns… and then jetting off to Westminster is a bit of an absurd one. I am not sure if this is something that is unique to our political system in this country, or whether other countries… Read more »

Annibendod
Annibendod
2 days ago

It was as much Mark Drakeford’s “clear red water” as it was Rhodri Morgan’s. As with almost all of Labour’s artifices, it has proven to be a topological palliative, a salve for the sake of political expediency. Not since the 1945 government has Labour carried out any meaningful structural reforms. Under Gethings leadership, Welsh Labour is nothing more than a sticker for a British Nationalist Labour Party operating in Wales for their own interests.

If you want change, vote Plaid Cymru.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
2 days ago

I read on here that Alex Barros-Curtis and his sister were born near Rhuddlan, just for the record…

Alwyn Evans
Alwyn Evans
1 day ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

I thought he went to school there – probably Rydal

Alan Jones
Alan Jones
1 day ago

Gweryn Excellent article as always but I’m surprised at the use of the phrase “Welsh labour”. Surely all we have is the Labour party in Wales run & controlled by Labour H.Q. in london. Another excellent article otherwise. I wrote on this site last week when this imposition of Labour candidates escalated ( let’s not forget the stitch ups following the boundary changes recently ). The Labour party used to shout loud & proud that they were the architects of devolution but it appears to me that they have no interest in it any longer & may even see it… Read more »

Mawkernewek
1 day ago
Reply to  Alan Jones

It’s a bit like BBC One Wales which is like BBC One England except you have the inter program announcer put on a Welsh accent.

Gwern Gwynfil
Gwern Gwynfil
1 day ago
Reply to  Alan Jones

Diolch Alan, Therein lies the challenge for Labour in Wales. I believe that they do differ from Starmer’s Labour, I am sure that huge numbers of their members and activists in Wales will be upset by candidate choices for this election. And yet they are impotent because they have an identity in name only. It’s an analogy for the Senedd itself as a seat of government without any real power. Will they toe the line and become an irrelevance within the ‘Labour’ movement or will they break the chains that bind them? Will the day eventually arrive when they (and… Read more »

Mr Williams
Mr Williams
1 day ago

A fantastic article. This parachuting in, shows how lame our democracy is. It is essentially an elected dictatorship, where the party machine calls the shots, top down instead of grass roots up.

I’ve just been listening to Nigel Farage speaking. While I would never vote for him or his anti-Welsh party, I do wish we had a political leader with that kind of charisma and passion here in Wales.

Mr Williams
Mr Williams
1 day ago
Reply to  Mr Williams

I am certainly not endorsing him, by the way.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 day ago
Reply to  Mr Williams

Charisma:-

1, compelling attractiveness or charm that can inspire devotion in others…

2, a divinely conferred power or talent

Mr Williams
Mr Williams
1 day ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

Well, he certainly has number 1. Like him or loathe him, he can stir emotion, and win over many people. I am sure you would agree with me that the popularity of this man and his party is not a good thing for us in Wales. I am certainly worried about Reform UK’s ambitions for Wales.

Last edited 1 day ago by Mr Williams
Linda Jones
Linda Jones
1 day ago

Good article but I do not believe the Labour Party is the vehicle for change. It’s an undemocratic organisation with more in common with the tory hard right than any socialist ideals on fairness or equality. Freedom of speech within the party is a thing of the past while the notion of ‘Welsh Labour’ is a joke, its just the Welsh branch of the Englishcentric Labour party with a membership that does nothing to promote the interests of Wales and its people. They are just selling us out. Wales needs either a new party to take us forward (no current… Read more »

Annibendod
Annibendod
1 day ago
Reply to  Linda Jones

The more people that join Plaid Cymru, the better. ALL progressives who believe in a Democratic Welsh State should do so and make the party into the political force we need to make that happen.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
8 minutes ago

“Keir is taking the P**s now.” What, is England going to dam that too? First our water now this. Duw, isn’t anything safe in Wales from Westminster exploitation?!

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