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Solidarity: a much forgotten quality

06 May 2024 6 minute read
Photo Adam Davy/PA Wire

Simon P. Hobson

Wales will solve its social, economic and housing crises through remembering our common worth.

If we want to heal our nation, give individuals the chance to thrive, to build a Wales which attracts ambitious people, from across the world, then we need to treat people and communities with the knowledge that they have the answers to their particular challenges, to understand that it is not the place of centralised government – be that in Westminster or Cardiff – to manage a problem.

One of the connecting features of both Conservative and Labour governments is a need to control and dictate how our communities operate. The answer to overcoming these errors in political ideology comes from society re-finding its solidarity.

“People understand their own business, and their own interests better, and care for them more than the government does or can expect to do.” – John Stuart Mill, philosopher, economist and politician

Bringing solidarity back into the way we approach our day-to-day living, forces us to reimagine what kind of society it is we want to live in.

One of the key areas which has now been abandoned by right and left, is the idea that politics, and politicians, are supposed to say things that we don’t all agree with all of the time.


Politics is about challenging the status quo to construct a better world. Today, people often approach political parties and politicians with a, ‘one strike and you’re out’ hostility to policies and speeches.

This is an unnatural way to respond to what are, after all, only fellow human beings presenting their solutions to our collective problems.

Indeed, if you think about our personal lives, we often see a different need to rectify a problem than, say, our spouse, siblings or grandparents.

But aside from the occasional falling out, we all still continue to function as a family. Why is this?

Because families understand that they are made up of individuals with differing life experiences, which in turn, are influenced by our childhoods, peer groups, preferred news sources and personal socio-economic pressures.

The solidarity of family remains. So, to solve our individual and community problems, it is this compassion and degree of solidarity which must be applied to our perspective on societal challenges.


We have an affordability crisis of housing – rental and to buy. Our adult and child care services are almost non-existent.

Doctors surgeries are unavailable to many, particularly in rural areas, nurses are stressed and overworked – resulting in increased mental-ill health, both of healthcare specialists and patients, local hospitals have been replaced by centralised megaliths and people are dying while waiting for ambulances.

In schooling our children are left without the coping strategies and knowledge of real world situations. Resulting in them lacking the requisite skills to build a thriving society of the future.

And, most alarming of all, the number of working families and, therefore children, living in poverty and with daily hunger has shot up to 26% of households in Wales.

“The finest eloquence is that which gets things done and the worst is that which delays them.” – David Lloyd George, leader of the Liberal Party and Prime Minister.

Equal footing

Solidarity would solve all these issues. Instead of continuing the adversarial approach to politics, economics and society we can choose to build a system in which everyone is on an equal footing.

This is an appeal for all to have access to the same opportunity to services throughout their lives, no matter which part of Wales they reside.

Trusting people with a truly proportional system for electing our representatives is the beginning of repairing our present two party, top-down approach to solving societal-ills and creating solidarity.

Respecting view points from which we may differ, allowing those voices to be represented in our national Senedd and regional ‘peoples assemblies’ will foster understanding between interests.

Giving these assemblies control over housing, schooling, healthcare, utilities, transport infrastructure, farming and tackling the climate crises, will return responsibility to the people who live with, and know, the issues needed to be tackled within their towns and villages. But how do we address growing rates of poverty?

With the types of work and jobs being destroyed and created, then destroyed again, through the rapid evolution of artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics beyond the knowledge of any politician, it is likely that current trends of poverty will not dissipate.


But we in Wales have the ability to alleviate this pain. Through creativity we can take away the anxiety of job loss.

No more means tested benefits; housing benefit, unemployment benefit, incapacity benefit or working tax credits.

Our new Wales must rid the stigmatism and draconian punishments associated with these tests. We will bring in a universal basic income (UBI).

UBI is simple. Everyone gets the same cash benefit. Unlike current means tested schemes, administration costs are low, because people don’t need monitoring for eligibility and, universal basic income is not stigmatising.

Receiving it doesn’t come with the label of being a lazy person or a scrounger, there is no longer a ‘them’ and ‘us’, it just makes for a society united through solidarity.

Through UBI we can choose to create a Wales in which everyone is brought together. Solidarity delivers freedom. Fending off the threat of AI replacing our jobs.

In a Wales where solidarity is at the heart of society, every person in our country will stop fearing unemployment, instead seeing it as an opportunity to try that business idea that they have always had, give time to developing new skills, devote themselves to bringing up a family or retraining to become a nurse, teacher or astronaut.

Solidarity will make our communities stronger, our politics kinder and more responsive, our lives happier and it will save us from the robot overlords.

Simon has been an activist for the Liberal Democrats for 20 years and is an approved Westminster parliamentary candidate for the party.

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