Support our Nation today - please donate here
Opinion

Labour leadership lost

17 Mar 2024 5 minute read
Vaughan Gething (left), speaks to the media at Cardiff University, after being elected as the next Welsh Labour leader. Photo Ben Birchall/PA Wire

Gwern Gwynfil

Watching the labour leadership announcement I was struck by how lost Labour in Wales has become.

This is not a group who put the people of Wales and their future at the very top of their list day in day out. These are not politicians who remind themselves every morning that they are public servants first and foremost, constituted and elected with the core purpose of improving society as a whole so that everyone benefits.

Make no mistake, I am not so idealistic that I believe that anyone can act entirely selflessly all the time. Self interest will always exist and will always influence us as individuals but political organisations are explicitly created to militate against this tyranny.

They are there to represent, enact, implement and deliver for the whole population. The nation and its people at the very top of the priority tree.

The Labour ‘Family’

Mark Drakeford made his valedictory speech all about the Labour family. How important it is to him, how important it is within labour, how being a family defines the Labour party.

But families by nature will favour their own, families by nature will neglect and disavow those outside the unit. This is natural and is okay but political parties should never be families, they should be structures designed to keep the egos which populate them honest and true.

Families inevitably favour family members and in politics this means nepotism, patronage and corruption. It means elevating the interests of the ‘family’, the party, above those of the people it represents and, when in government, serves.

Language is important. The words we choose colours and reflect perception. The labels we use shape perception and understanding. Language, ultimately, shapes behaviour.

Being ‘family’ is at the core of the rot which clearly runs through the Labour party in Wales.

A party which gained barely 20% of the voting electorate in support of its platform in the last Senedd election but which still sees itself as the very embodiment and lifeblood of Wales and the people of Wales. In reality this is a party which has abandoned its people in favour of self interest and navel gazing.

Vaughan Gething

In truth it makes no difference who won the leadership election. Vaughan Gething will soon be First Minister of Wales but he will do nothing for the people of Wales. How can he when he puts the needs of the Labour party first?

When the priority for him and all his fellow Labourites in Wales is to kowtow to Starmer and do what they can to support the election and success of the next Labour government.

Supporting the people of Wales, a mere 3 million people will be so low on Starmer’s priority list that it won’t even register. Gething won’t be raising his voice for the 3 million as this would mean challenging the ‘family’.

Uninterrupted decades of political dominance in Wales has led Labour to a place of cultural rot reminiscent of the slow implosion of the Liberals that started a century ago. Those within the party who recognise this reality are neither brave enough nor numerous enough to resist and renew this fading giant of Welsh politics.

Labour has lost sight completely of what they originally set out to become.

The labour ‘Movement’

Historically, this is the political voice representing the Labour movement. Today they talk as though they are the Labour movement, a signal itself of how lost they are as public servants.

The party has become more important than the people they purport to represent, those people have in turn lost interest, not just in the party but in a politics which is out of touch and irrelevant to them, a politics which lets us all down.

In Wales and across the UK, our politics and our politicians are systemically defunct. Across the UK, this discontent expressed in strong support for fringe right wing parties from those who give little thought to the meat of politics, and in a despairing ‘anything but the current government attitude’ from those who do. In Wales, turnouts indicate that it’s a ‘what’s the point’ attitude that dominates with fewer than half of all voters engaging with the Senedd.

This is a huge failure of relevance and representation and it should be keeping every Member of the Senedd awake at night. But no one talks about it.

Wales needs a new party, a new movement. To do what Labour did in the early twentieth century. To upset this staid and futile merry go round of self congratulatory politics and politicians who achieve nothing. To radicalise and revolutionise our political world in the way that our technological world has transformed over the past twenty years.

It is certainly time for change. But Vaughan Gething is not that change. A Labour government at Westminster will certainly not be that change.

The Dying of the Light

Wales has led and fostered change many times in the past. It is time for Wales and the people of Wales to do so again.

Do we have what it takes to emulate the generations who came before? Do we have the ambition, bravery and confidence to stand up and shout loudly for renewal? Are we still the nation we once were? The nation that was the crucible of the global industrial revolution? The nation that drove the Labour movement?

The nation that gave the world the NHS as a model to be admired and copied? Wales and Welsh people have done so much, from producing pioneering mathematicians to laying the foundations of the United Nations. Where are we now?

Will we go gently into that good night?

Or will we rage against the dying of the light?


Support our Nation today

For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
32 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Ernie The Smallholder
Ernie The Smallholder
3 months ago

Plaid Cymru must show that they can do this to take the whole of Wales into an optimistic future. It is happening in the rest of the UK, the old liberals with other progressives have transformed themselves into the Liberal Democrats and have recently won 4 by-elections in England by large swings. They have an inclusive reforming package including real political reform and transformation to an egalitarian form of capitalism where all people can all have shares and the associated dividends. Plaid Cymru needs to take this as an inspiration as it quest id building an independent Wales as an… Read more »

Glwyo
Glwyo
3 months ago

Would you be talking about the liberal democrat party who leapt into bed with the Tories and enabled them to initiate their fire sale of national assets in 2010? Ah, well it figures, doing so allows all people to have shares and dividends. Birds of a feather eh.

Ernie The Smallholder
Ernie The Smallholder
3 months ago
Reply to  Glwyo

The problem with other forms of public ownership, such as state government ownership is monopolisation of resources and power as what happened in the Soviet Union.

How other than the public having shares is public ownership going to happen ?

Geoffrey Harris
Geoffrey Harris
3 months ago

The labour party has become a self perpetuating autocracy. One party rule. It’s little wonder it has lost it’s radical ambitions.

CapM
CapM
3 months ago

The hour long flagship UK political programme, Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg didn’t mention the Labour leadership result.

Too much to ask of the BBC I suppose with Hunt’s budget and Hester’s donations to cover and the programme having to devote over a quarter of an hour to the abusive treatment experienced by an aristocrat in the public school he attended fifty years ago.

We were told an extended version of him being interviewed on the experiences he describes in his book is available on BBC iPlayer.

A.Redman
A.Redman
3 months ago
Reply to  CapM

The problem with that interview and so many political interviews give the impression that the views expressed applied to everyone! In the independent school system there have been horror stories but not everyone who attended those places were abused.Many that I knew in the 50’s benefitted and went on to have success in life and marriage etc .Not all the attendees were forced against their will and not all parents were super rich . Having their earnings taxed at source they tried to find the means to let their children have what they considered a better educational experience as well… Read more »

CapM
CapM
3 months ago
Reply to  A.Redman

The problem with the interview was that it allocated so much time to Spencer’s story that there was no possibility of even a mention of one of the constituent parts of the UK getting a new First Minister (to be).

I’m assuming that some other story of lesser importance than Spencer’s would not also have elbowed a significant political news story about Cymru out of the show. Maybe that’s a bit naive of me though.

Lewis in the Valleys
Lewis in the Valleys
3 months ago

This article is about as tired as the Welsh Labour brand it seeks to critique. “Wales needs a new party, a new movement”. Who will this be? By implication, it’s surely not Plaid. A party that lost a seat in Bridgend recently because it couldn’t find a candidate and has been riven with misogyny, bullying and sexual harassment. We may need a new party, but it won’t be one that sees itself as Labour’s little helper content to tolerate dreadful public services because devolution equals nationhood no matter how bad things are. And, of course, supports the worst kind of… Read more »

CapM
CapM
3 months ago

Nearly all that could be seen as valid but if so it would also be valid as criticism of how government and opposition act at Westminster. All if you include the coalition government between the Tories and LibDems and Brexit equals sovereignty. Perhaps quoting Dylan Thomas is specific to Cymru .

Things could, can, should and must be done better but when it comes down to it it’s not how people feel about Plaid Cymru, Devolution or Labour governments at the Senedd that puts a brake on independence but how people feel about independence.

Gwern Gwynfil
Gwern Gwynfil
3 months ago

After dissing the article you go on to set out the bones of your own manifesto for a new party. ‘How about some new thinking – harnessing the power of AI, a shorter working week, sorting out social care, reforming the Welsh public sector, and real devolution to local communities? Most of all, tackling the non-existent public sphere, where Welsh government ministers are completely unrestrained by any form of accountability and backed by a fawning Cardiff Bay lobby made up of painfully average politicians, a national broadcaster who would put Pravda to shame, failed special advisors and third sector journeymen.… Read more »

Lewis in the Valleys
Lewis in the Valleys
3 months ago
Reply to  Gwern Gwynfil

Sorry, you don’t get off that lightly. I’m not arguing for a new party; you are. You justify it by using some of the most worn-out cliches in Welsh politics. I would love to see the end of one-party statism in Wales, but what will your new party and movement look like? Is it socialist, nationalist or conservative? Does the movement you call for replace your former employers in @YesCymru, or does it replace the trade union movement? Answers on a postcard. My point about new thinking is simple. All I hear from the Independence movement is turgid constitutionalism, half-baked… Read more »

CapM
CapM
3 months ago

At the moment it’s difficult for me to work out where you’re coming from and wanting to go on this apart from a general, – political parties, politicians and those involved in politics are at best useless.

It would be helpful to me if you would give examples of who you’ve identified as being an asset in delivering your vision of how political parties, politicians and those involved with politics should act. Diolch.
.

Gwern Gwynfil
Gwern Gwynfil
3 months ago

You raise some decent questions here Lewis but you’re adding all sorts to the article. Independence is not mentioned at any point. The article is about where we are in Wales today and is making a historical comparison with the political transition that happened in Wales a century or so ago. I suspect we agree that Wales needs a similar renewal and transition today. I’m asking where we can find that renewal. It could come from an existing party but I believe that this is unlikely considering the ossified nature of politics in Wales today and the disengagement of large… Read more »

HarrisR
HarrisR
3 months ago

This is by far the best thing I have read on here. It’s way beyond time someone nailed the self deluding warmed over vicarage rhetoric. The grifting avoidance of reality. I’d just add, someone once said that “the hallmark of bureaucracy is that it addresses what are essential political questions as if they were administrative”.* And everything turns on that. There is now an abyss between the political class and the electorate, here in Wales and far wider. No one realistically expects a material change to their lives, even at the margin. Politicians are despised, promises and programs today are… Read more »

Last edited 3 months ago by HarrisR
CapM
CapM
3 months ago
Reply to  HarrisR

So what should the electorate do at the next Senedd and General elections?

Annibendod
Annibendod
3 months ago

People need to quit sniping a Plaid from the sidelines. Roll up your sleeves, wade in and get your hands dirty. Make Plaid the Party Wales Needs. I’m in Plaid purely because I want to build a Democratic and prosperous Welsh State. Unless we organise and act at the ballot box, nothing will change. Criticism where it is merited with the purpose of making progress is very much needed. But I see irrational and personal umbrage. We need to grow up politically speaking. ALL progressives who believe in Welsh Democratic Statehood, who are laser-focused on building prosperity and equality, BELONG… Read more »

Dr John Ball
Dr John Ball
3 months ago
Reply to  Annibendod

There are non so blind that those who will not see.
You spend endless hours using Nation Cymru to tell us how wonderful is Plaid Cymru – read the comments above!
Plaid Cymru’s leadership is very, very happy being Santa’s little helper and this will not change, even with the election of a tainted new First Minister.

CapM
CapM
3 months ago
Reply to  Dr John Ball

Who’s your Santa?

Dr John Ball
Dr John Ball
3 months ago
Reply to  CapM

Santa’s little helper is the Simpson’s dog – replace Simpson with Drakeford/Gethin and it’s a very appropriate analogy.

CapM
CapM
3 months ago
Reply to  Dr John Ball

My question was not -who is Santa’s little helper? but “Who’s your Santa?”
Are you acting as a ‘little helper’ and if so who/what is the Santa you’re helping?
If you’re not being as a ‘little helper’.by design who/what do you think might be the most appreciative of your contributions?

Dr John Ball
Dr John Ball
3 months ago
Reply to  CapM

Are you on something?

CapM
CapM
3 months ago
Reply to  Dr John Ball

Like most here (including me) you’re trying to influence those reading the comments you make. If not then is your engagement just a way of venting feelings and any swaying of the opinions of those reading is immaterial? If the “little” in the term “Santa’s little helper” you use encompasses insignificant then then I’m a “Santa’s little [insignificant]helper” for Plaid Cymru. No formal or informal agreement between me and Santa involved of course. In the same sense you could be described as a “Santa’s little [but far from insignificant] helper”. If you wish to answer my questions fine if not… Read more »

Dr John Ball
Dr John Ball
3 months ago
Reply to  CapM

I would happily reply but your rambling incomprehensible mumblings don’t make sense

Annibendod
Annibendod
3 months ago
Reply to  Dr John Ball

Oh buzz off John. You’re blinded by hatred of Plaid and have nothing constructive to offer. Mr snipe from the sidelines. Why don’t you roll up your sleeves and do something useful for a change.

Dr John Ball
Dr John Ball
3 months ago
Reply to  Annibendod

I have no idea who you are, as ever hiding behind a pen name.
You can insult me all you like, this simply shows you know nothing about me or my lifelong work and commitment to independence.

Swn Y Mor
Swn Y Mor
3 months ago
Reply to  Annibendod

If you are a progressive who believes in equality then at the moment Plaid Cymru is not the party for you. We do not even have equality between ourselves and the leadership. Take housing for example, Plaid want/hope ‘houses over time should cease to be seen as commodities or assets’. Fair enough. However the leader of the party Mr ap Iorwerth is a director at a company Paradwys Cyf which operates a property that is described as an ‘investment property’ on the balance sheet!

Annibendod
Annibendod
3 months ago
Reply to  Swn Y Mor

Join the party and fight.

Swn Y Mor
Swn Y Mor
3 months ago
Reply to  Annibendod

Annibendod, do you think Rhun is the right person to take Plaid forward?
Can he lead the party to second place in the Senedd?

Mr Williams
Mr Williams
3 months ago

You are certainly right that Labour has become complacent and self-serving. Recently, I wrote to the Education Minister with concerns about the funding of education in north Wales. I received justification for their unfair funding of local government and an avoidance of the questions I asked. I also wrote to the 4 Aelodau Senedd for north Wales about the issue. I received very helpful replies from Plaid Cymru and the Tories, but not so much as an acknowledgement from the Labour AS. Sadly, Labour have been in power for so long, they have become complacent and even contemptuous towards people… Read more »

Last edited 3 months ago by Mr Williams
Linda Jones
Linda Jones
3 months ago

Wow. Great article and couldnt agree more

Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
3 months ago

Politics on the UK is old and tired, needs freshening up, a kick up the arse. To many it appears there is only division and self-serving greed on offer at the moment. The only way to change things in Cymru is to work together, all the little progressive fractions (and even some liberal leaning Welsh conservatives, the door must be open for everyone)putting aside their differences for the sake of the country. Building a creditable, trusted organisation/party which will be believed by the public as a solid alternative to labour. Plaid could be that vehicle, after all it has an… Read more »

Annibendod
Annibendod
3 months ago
Reply to  Steve Duggan

You in the party Steve? If not, join and fight. You hit the nail on the head in your comment. If we want independence, we need to vote for it. So the answer for progressives is a Plaid Cymru that is fit to govern and electable. I’d happliy see Gwlad pick up the conservative vote. Only voting for parties with Welsh Statehood in the manifesto will get us anywhere.

Our Supporters

All information provided to Nation.Cymru will be handled sensitively and within the boundaries of the Data Protection Act 2018.