Mark Drakeford knows his own comments about Welsh nationalism make no sense

First Minister Mark Drakeford keeping his distance from the right-wing symbol hovering behind him. Picture by the Welsh Government.

Tim Richards

Mark Drakeford’s interview with Nick Robinson on BBC Radio 4 yesterday was very revealing of the First Minister’s views on whether independence for Wales would be worthwhile in order to avoid Conservative UK Governments.

It could not have been clearer what he was being asked: “Have you never thought, over the years, the decades since, been tempted to think maybe we have a real chance of achieving the socialism we want in Wales by being nationalist?”

Unfortunately, the question gave him the chance to wriggle out of this obvious dilemma by using the word “nationalist” rather than the more realistic words by “becoming independent”.

This allowed the First Minister to avoid a straight answer and say instead that Welsh nationalism is an “inherently right-wing creed” and that people must choose between it and socialism.

Some have subsequently tried to defend the First Minister by arguing that he was talking about other national movements, not the Welsh independence movement.

But within the wider context of the discussion – the First Minister’s background growing up in Carmarthenshire in the 60s – it’s clear what he meant. He presented nationalism and socialism as binary, incompatible choices.

“It meant that I had to face very early on really the choice between whether you were a nationalist or you were a socialist,” he said. “And by the time I was about 14 I had already decided that I was a socialist.”

Of course, Mark Drakeford knows perfectly well that there are socialist national movements. He spends his working life looking across the Siambr at a socialist national party, Plaid Cymru.

Socialist national movements aren’t about blood and soil but about ensuring that power resides at the right levels of government in order to reach the goal of a socialist state.

The UK isn’t a socialist state by any stretch of the imagination. Despite Wales voting Labour for 100 years, it is usually run by a party, the Conservatives, that is fundamentally at odds with Drakeford’s view of government’s role in society.

And devolution has barely budged the dial in terms of giving Wales the economic levers it needs in order to solve society’s problems. In the UK’s hyper-centralised state, Wales repeatedly votes for socialism and gets neo-liberalism.

 

‘Pool’

As a result I find it very hard to get my head around that Drakeford really believes what he is saying about nationalism being a “right-wing creed”. Surely, he just said it either to impress the wider-UK audience who may be listening on, or is simply rejecting the ‘nationalist’ label so that he can use it as a stick to bash Plaid Cymru?

He will know that his comments make no sense at all as there are as many forms of nationalism as there are nations. By his logic, those who led independence campaigns against the British Empire, such as Mahatma Gandhi were “inherently right-wing”.

Ultimately there are two types of nationalism – those of countries who want to control other nations, and national movements who want to free themselves from control by another nation. Welsh nationalism fits into the latter category, the Unionist nationalism that Drakeford and Labour as a whole is so keen to pretend doesn’t exist too often veers into the first category.

Mark Drakeford says that he wants “Wales to be part of the wider collective” of the United Kingdom “in which we pool our resources and we redistribute them out to where the need is greatest”.

What country has Mark Drakeford been living in these past 65 years? The UK certainly does pool resources, but that pool has a very deep end in London and the south-east and a very shallow one in Wales, Scotland and the north of England.

Just during the last few months, we have seen a UK Government dominated by English public schoolboys gazump Drakeford’s own Welsh Government’s coronavirus tests.

There’s only one nationalist movement with a “right-wing creed” in British politics and that’s the one that has captured the UK Government on the promise of “taking back control” and cutting our ties with the continent.

And it’s the one that Mark Drakeford argues we must keep ourselves shackled to at all costs.

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Jenny Livermore LewisHuw J DaviesRhosdduTudor ReesWelsh_Sion Recent comment authors
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E Williams
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E Williams

Da iawn. Well said.

j humphrys
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j humphrys

We have beaten this discussion into the carpet, so what is to be done? Unite and fight!

j humphrys
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j humphrys

Begin at WNP.Wales.

j humphrys
Guest
j humphrys

Support MS Delyth Jewell’s petition for a bonus for all care workers. Go to Plaid Cymru site for details.

John Ellis
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John Ellis

Did it, yesterday.

Ken Barker
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Ken Barker

Not having been part of those apparent ‘choices’ in Wales, between welsh nationalism and socialism, I can’t get my head around its’ binary nature, of us and them, existing in the same places such as in the Valleys, people living together. Is this a cultural, educational or class experience, I’d like to know?

Rhosddu
Guest
Rhosddu

Drakeford isn’t from the Valleys.

There was never any need for a dichotemy between socialism and what you have called ‘Welsh nationalism’ in industrial areas of Wales. Plaid Cymru had plenty of opportunities to synthesise the two (consider Aberfan!) but failed.

K. K
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K. K

The one thing that I will say about Mark Drakeford is that he is and can be quite a canny operator. He looks dishevelled and not at all what you would consider statesman material but he picks his words carefully and can twist them. He has kept to the same line about cooperation whilst drawing a line in the sand between Wales and Westminster and hasn’t done anything that could play into their hands either especially if you think about the financial and environmental consequences of the M4. I think he could have done a lot more but knows full… Read more »

Huw J Davies
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Huw J Davies

You make him sound like the Lieutenant Columbo of politics! Which isn’t a bad thing.

David Roberts
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David Roberts

Excellent article!!!

Jonesy
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Jonesy

I wish to God Welsh politicians would forget socialism. It is meaningless. Just cos Rhondda people vote labour it doesn’t make them socialist, it’s is holding us all back. And tthe reason why Plaid and Labour are going nowhere

Sian Ifan
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Sian Ifan

Nationalists need to get a grip with an home truth, as far as Independence is concerned it’s not a matter of politics convincing our people that FREEDOMS ROAD will ever become a reality it’s really a matter of a’SHARED MEMORY’ (History) and our people are with out such, why’s that so today? Once they had a shared protestant memory of sorts and ‘Byd Cymru Cymraeg’ as a shared ‘Crachach Memory’ today as advanced by grant funded ‘Cultural Nationalism, thanks to S4C etc but on the whole there is no united shared memory other than Ich Dein rugby for this the… Read more »

Huw J Davies
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Huw J Davies

Pretty sure Euro 2016 has created a shared memory, even for the ones who never made it ‘in the flesh’!

Terry Mackie
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Terry Mackie

A very fair analysis. I continue to despair of finding genuine integrity and leadership in our rather flaky FM. All the signs point to two-decade decadence for Llafur. Main thing is for PC to not swallow the bait every time Llafur casts out.

Welsh_Sion
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Welsh_Sion

I fear that the First Minister, like so many of our compatriots is suffering, from Stockholm Syndrome. We need to educate our people to ditch this cringe-like feeling, this Welshness that lasts for the occasional 80 minutes, five times a year. Not all of us button up at the back, Mark. Nor think that salvation comes from any purported largesse from Westminster. They actively despise us. So why should we lash ourselves to their dying ‘union’? Strange how indepence is good for all other countries. But not Cymru. Stranger still that of those who have severed the umbilical cord with… Read more »

Tudor Rees
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Tudor Rees

Followers of the Labour and Liberal parties seem to find it easier to identify with the indigenous peoples of America, Australia, Polynesia, India and Africa etc than with those of us who live in Wales!
James Fox on Radio 4. “Continuing his exploration of the collision of the West and Pacific culture, James Fox explores how, ever since Captain Cook’s voyages 250 years ago, the West has created a myth of Polynesia as paradise and, in doing so, destroyed the riches of indigenous culture. “

Tudor Rees
Guest
Tudor Rees

It is interesting that at times, even Westminster Conservatives have shown more insight into the desire of people to become independent!
e.g. 1960:– In a speech to MPs in the Houses of Parliament in Cape Town, Mr Macmillan spoke of the “wind of change” blowing through the continent of Africa, as more and more majority black populations in the colonies claim the right to rule themselves.
“Whether we like it or not,” he said, “this growth of national consciousness is a political fact.”
This “ wind of change” is blowing in Scotland, and I hear the leaves rustling in Wales!

Huw J Davies
Guest
Huw J Davies

There are plenty ‘out there’ who would be glad if all things Welsh disappeared. If we were a collection of newts or rare butterflies we would be a protected species but when we try to protect ourselves we are labelled small minded fascists and racists.

Rhosddu
Guest
Rhosddu

…or my favourite, “narrow nationalists”.

Jenny Livermore Lewis
Member

Jenny Livermore Lewis WISE words. There are indeed and always have been,4 proud nations working together in our wonderful UK. I truly believe, that our Leader, here in Wales, never falters in promoting and looking after Wales and making it known with pride that he puts Wales, its people and communities First. I sincerely hope that our neighbours feel the same in, Ireland, Scotland and England as we are all working together towards building prosperity, delivering future and enabling our nations common-wealth together locally. Keep safe.