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Opinion

The Tragedy of Welsh Conservatism

03 May 2023 5 minute read
Inset left: Andrew RT Davies, Leader of the Welsh Conservatives – Inset right: Gwern Gwynfi, CEO YesCymru

Gwern Gwynfil, CEO YesCymru

Like all modern democracies, Wales has a part of its population naturally inclined towards a conservative political perspective.

Those who are conservatives in Wales do not have a clear and representative voice making a contribution on their behalf at a national level.

Despite protestations that they are ardent supporters of Wales and ‘proudly Welsh’ both David TC Davies, Secretary of State for Wales and Andrew RT Davies, leader of the Welsh Conservatives, consistently act and speak in ways that are evidently not in the interests of Wales, the conservatives living in Wales, or the broader wellbeing of the whole of Wales.

TC is against Wales having its own bank holiday on St David’s Day, he is against Wales being given the £6Bn in consequentials that the entire Senedd (including RT!) believes is due to Wales.

He is actively denying those he purportedly represents of a transformative level of investment funds. This is not real conservative behaviour.

Y Bannau

RT and TC have waded in to condemn the National Park’s change of emphasis to make use of Bannau Brycheiniog as their name rather than continue to use both this and the Beacons.

Ironically, they’ve condemned it as economically damaging to an established brand and in so doing they have given the rebrand wings.

The free promotion globally has been magnificent, a marketing coup which has promoted Wales and this beautiful part of Wales to over 750 million people globally.

Bravo Y Bannau!

With the English Coastal Path being renamed this week, they and their fellow ‘anti-woke warriors’ have been left looking distinctly foolish once again – Welsh conservatives must be wincing (once again…).

Meanwhile, and more seriously, Andrew RT Davies has made it clear that he has no constructive policies or opposition to present. This is a huge failing on his part.

He rants and rails on his social media and did so again in his recent conference speech, but he offers up no alternative plan for Wales, he gives no constructive policy framework, he fails utterly to represent the real conservatives in Wales.

Poor outcome

This is a poor outcome for everyone in Wales, not just the conservatives in our midst. Thriving, healthy democracies need robust opposition.

Sensible, thoughtful, scrutiny is what holds the government to account. It is what gives democratic voice to those who are not represented by the party of government at any given time.

The opposition in Wales at the moment is shrill, verging on hysterical and seems to lack any level of cohesive thought.

True Welsh conservatives must be crying in their beer and flailing for a way to reinvent their world so that they can once again have a voice.

Politics and a pint just doesn’t cut it.

There can be no doubt that this decline in the quality of the Welsh conservative political voice is contagion from the even more precipitate decline seen at the centre – the Conservatives at Westminster rattle through leaders and Prime Ministers at an alarming rate.

They too are struggling for cohesion and any genuine policy platform, falling back on soundbites, controversy, division and conflict to mask the reality that they have nothing to offer.

Reinvent

There is a bold and courageous answer to the problem for Welsh conservatives.

They could embrace the cause of Independence, safe in the knowledge that in an Independent Wales they would have the opportunity to reinvent and renew themselves as a serious and thoughtful political voice for those to the right of centre.

There have been talented and thoughtful Welsh conservative politicians in the past, there are some in the mix within the Welsh Conservatives today.

Independence would free them to make realistic and constructive contributions to the creation and growth of a new, vibrant, nation.

They would get to be a part of history in the making.

Labour hegemony

Some of them will surely be deeper thinkers than their current leadership, some of them will realise that, to have a voice within Wales, for Wales, where Labour hegemony remains deep rooted, Independence is the doorway through which they can access that change and become more relevant.

Independence also allows all Welsh conservatives to come together electorally. Without it there will always be a significant proportion of the Welsh population who will never vote for the Tories because they are not, and never will be, a party of Wales.

The question arises then, who, amongst Welsh conservatives, is brave and bold enough to stand up and declare themself in support of Independence?

Who amongst the Welsh conservatives will lay the groundwork for uniquely Welsh conservative political thought?

Who has the vision to counter the tragedy of Welsh conservatism and give hope to those who are political conservatives with no home and no voice here in Wales?

Independence is normal. Independence is inevitable. So is conservatism.

For those reading this who see themselves as conservatives, now is the time to make the shift, to prepare yourself and your politics for the challenges, potential and successes of an Independent Wales.


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Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
9 months ago

Da iawn Gwern Gwynfil. This piece he has written is a ‘beacon’ (neu ban/golau) of truth, sense and vision for the future of our nation and those who wish to participate in it properly and credibly. However, to make the Tories recognise this and admit to themselves that this is the way ahead for them, first they will have to suffer electoral wipeout in 2024 and 2026. Only then with their arrogance buried will they consider working for and with the people of Wales and for the good of all in our nation.

Neil McEvoy
Neil McEvoy
9 months ago

There is no serious opposition in the Senedd. Labour act in an equally anti-Wales way as the Conservative. The difference is Labour does it more cleverly.

Rhufawn Jones
Rhufawn Jones
9 months ago
Reply to  Neil McEvoy

Yep! One party state since 1922. Worse than even Belarus!

Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
9 months ago
Reply to  Rhufawn Jones

Unlike in belarus elections in Wales are free and fair, opposition parties are not banned, political opponents are not jailed or ‘disappeared’ and tv channels and radio stations are not mouthpieces of the govt….so nothing like Wales at all actually

Charles Coombes
Charles Coombes
9 months ago
Reply to  Rhufawn Jones

Please state 5 ways in which Wales has or is worse than Belarus then try Hungary!

Karl
Karl
9 months ago
Reply to  Rhufawn Jones

Senedd is not that old or has that much power, silly comment. Out of my life 76% of it has been a Tory UK government, so tell me how that makes Cymru a one party state, by voting Labour, when Tories are running the show and holding the purse strings, making us beg

LLoyd
LLoyd
9 months ago
Reply to  Karl

He is refering to Council rule, Senedd rule and majority of MP’s have been/are Labour.

George Thomas
George Thomas
9 months ago
Reply to  Neil McEvoy

Are you the Neil McEvoy? If yest, then in my opinion, you’re someone who Welsh voters should see through as someone who presents themselves as “I’m the real opposition” but is really out for themselves.

Hayden Williams
Hayden Williams
9 months ago
Reply to  George Thomas

Agreed. I think the politician Neil McEvoy is playing an obvious populist play-book strategy

Andy Williams
9 months ago
Reply to  Neil McEvoy

Put simply, Welsh Labour have been in power too long. There is no one waiting to take over, except in abolition of the Assembly eyes. I hope I’m wrong, I can see these idiots, making a come back.

R. Lewis
R. Lewis
9 months ago

In many ways, the idea of Welsh independence is consistent with conservative thinking: self-reliance, dignity in doing things for yourself, “taking back control”. However, contrary to this, the conservatives in Wales seem to bask in the idea that Wales will always need to rely on a benevolent Westminster to be a success. So here’s my question to the Welsh Conservatives. If — and it is a big if — you were shown conclusive proof that Wales would be more prosperous as an independent nation, would you be in favour of it? Or is Wales’s continued poverty a price worth paying… Read more »

Ernie The Smallholder
Ernie The Smallholder
9 months ago
Reply to  R. Lewis

As an opposition to Labour dominance, Plaid Cymru is the only effective opposition in most of Wales. Plaid Cymru has a strong Welsh liberal tradition. It is also the only party in the Senedd that works for the interests for the people of Wales and as a pro-independence party. Both Labour and Conservatives are controlled from outside Wales. I have wrote to Welsh Labour on a subject and got a reply from Newcastle in England. It is clear we need new parties based in Wales with policies made in Wales: It is sad (except for Plaid Cymru and Gwlad) we… Read more »

Barry Taylor
Barry Taylor
9 months ago

The fact that he has learned Welsh is irrelevant to the point here, which is that he supports policies which actively harm the Welsh economy.

Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
9 months ago

The fact of the matter is unionism and conservatives in Wales are inseperable, and it is why conservatives in Wales will never support welsh independence. We see the same ‘john bull’ mindset at work with regards to british conservatives close links to hardline ulster unionist parties – they are determined to maintain close links with the most sectarian unionists in the north of ireland even if it endangers the Good Friday Agreement.

Jonathan Edwards
Jonathan Edwards
9 months ago
Reply to  Leigh Richards

Unionism and conservatives in Wales are inseparable? Here’s how I separate them. Some Conservatives are simple unionists, yes. But some of them are starting to say that Wales would be fine if it raises its own taxes. To which we are closer than many seem to realise. My own contribution is to suggest that Wales gets Dominion Status ie 90% Indy. (Like Ireland at the start, NZ and most of the rest of the British Empire). Big advance for Wales and will acceptable to London. Full Indy to follow? ,Our only problem is that Plaid, for the last 100 years,… Read more »

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
9 months ago

To be the leader of the Welsh Conservatives is like being the only one in the room that doesn’t realise they have toilet paper sticking out of their trousers and are the butt of the joke, excuse the pun.

David Lloyd Owen
David Lloyd Owen
9 months ago

Excellent article, many thanks. When I lived in England, I inclined towards the conservatives. These days, I am probably an extreme centrist. I joined Plaid on coming back to Wales in 1999 because they put Wales first. The absence of a genuine Welsh conservatism leaves a void in Welsh politics. The Lib Dems here have always had a Welsh dimension while Labour is decidedly mixed – staying at my club, I once had to face a portrait of George Thomas. I turned his face to the wall. A mature democracy has a spectrum of political leanings and accepts that people… Read more »

Jonathan Edwards
Jonathan Edwards
9 months ago

You say ‘right of centre’ but I think ‘right’ and ‘left’ have lost their meaning. The choice is between a highly controlled Wales – not free – and one which is free. That is how stark the issue has become in recent years. In the overcontrolled Wales we have, we do not have a dynamic economy, and we do not have a road-map to Indy. We need to emphasise ‘Freedom’ but even this is no good if our leaders don’t have the know-how to do Indy. Very pleased to see the real discussions begin – not before time!

George Thomas
George Thomas
9 months ago

I agree. The best line in this piece is “thriving, healthy democracies need robust opposition,” but all we get is Tea-party wannabees and boring unionists.

I don’t agree with Conservatism, at least not yet, but Wales needs a good, Welsh center-right party and at the moment we don’t have it.

Iago Prydderch
Iago Prydderch
9 months ago

‘Without it there will always be a significant proportion of the Welsh population who will never vote for the Tories because they are not, and never will be, a party of Wales.’ Nor are the Labour Party a party of Wales! The Welsh people have bought into the lie since the 19th century that Labour care about Wales, but they are a Unionist party and therefore no different to the Conservatives. Labour’s main objective is to fight a working class war and Welsh workers are willing to stand with English working class workers, sometimes at their own expense, at one… Read more »

CapM
CapM
9 months ago
Reply to  Iago Prydderch

“Why would the Welsh Conservatives support independence” If they want an independent Cymru they would. ” when the only voice coming from the independence movement is that which is calling for a socialist republic of Wales? “ What ever the voices are saying now and there is definitely not just one “voice” in a future independent Cymru probably using a Single Transferable Vote electoral system a Conservative party would have everything to play for. However that Conservative party would not be able to profit repeatedly from a winner takes all election system in most elections as the Conservative Party governments at… Read more »

Benjiman Angwin
Benjiman Angwin
9 months ago

Bit Nash heavy of Gwern but good.

This is 1 of the saddest moments in 1,600 years of Welsh History.

For many of us Devolution seems a failure. 25 years, and we’re still not mature enough as a nation to see a voice that is both Welsh 1st and centre-right.

Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
9 months ago

Think one of the saddest moments in welsh history was march 1st 1979 when the welsh people effectively voted themselves out of existence. Nobody with any memory of that awful day could possibly regard the yes to devolution vote 18 years later as having led to failure. Indeed we should always cherish 18th september 1997 as the day when the people of Wales democratically voted to take a measure of control of their country for the first time in our history. PS. labelling the people of Wales as immature because they dont share your ‘centre right’ views isnt a good… Read more »

David Lloyd Owen
David Lloyd Owen
9 months ago
Reply to  Leigh Richards

The 3rd March 2011 was the culmination of this process. 32 years and two days later, a comprehensive reversal.

CJPh
CJPh
9 months ago
Reply to  Leigh Richards

To be fair, I think Benjamin meant that Wales hasn’t matured politically to the point that there is plurality of positions but domestic focus (Wales 1st, x political proclivity 2nd),not that those to the left of his views are immature

Rob
Rob
9 months ago

What like England where the Prime Minister held parties whilst the rest of the country was in lockdown? Or America where their manchild President suggested injecting disinfectant to fight Covid 19, and caused a riot in the Capitol building because he lost the election?
Wales’ problem is the dominance of the Labour party, and people like R2D2 Davies are simply prolonging their dominance further.

Llyn
Llyn
9 months ago

Perhaps while you’re hear Gwern you might want to look at your own organisation and have a word with whoever’s in charge of your own Twitter account. Tweeting out in agreement that the UK is a ‘pariah state’ to a response from RT, frankly makes Yes Cymru look childish and not serious. I have many issues with the UK Gov but it’s ridiculous to lump the UK in with Iran and Nort Korea.

Charles Coombes
Charles Coombes
9 months ago

Never trust a tory.

Andy Williams
9 months ago

Also, Tories thinking, Never trust the Welsh.

Charles Coombes
Charles Coombes
9 months ago

If every member of the Con. Clubs in Wales voted Tory they would win ? Discuss

Rhosddu
Rhosddu
9 months ago

It’s difficult to understand how, with his continual attacks on devolution, A.R.T. Davies hopes to garner enough electoral support to win a Senedd election. It is, in fact, difficult to appreciate how he hopes his party will avoid an electoral spanking, and must be thanking the good Lord that this country doesn’t do FPTP. Equally difficult to comprehend is exactly what demographic he hopes to appeal to in Cymru itself. Like his owners in Westminster, he seems to labour under the illusion that the vast majority of Welsh voters are anti-devolution, look to the Daily Mail for all their news,… Read more »

NOT Grayham Jones
NOT Grayham Jones
9 months ago

Mr Gwynfil is very naive in his assessment – he says “The opposition in Wales at the moment is shrill, verging on hysterical and seems to lack any level of cohesive thought”. However someone once said A week in politics is a long time. By the time of the next Senedd elections we may well have a Labour Govt in Westminister which will be deeply unpopular, The crack pop policies of The Welsh Govt will be seen fully by the Welsh voters and suddenly the Welsh Conservatives may well present a valid alternative. Wales is becoming more and more a… Read more »

Rob
Rob
9 months ago

I agree to an extent that a Starmer premiership may harm Welsh Labour’s hopes at the next Senedd election, however for the Tories to become a viable alternative they are going to have to work with one of the other parties to form a government. The new PR system will make it harder for any party including Labour to get a majority in the Senedd.

Peter Cuthbert
Peter Cuthbert
9 months ago
Reply to  Rob

Having read all these posts I wonder if I might throw in the odd thought about language? There seems to be some confusion between the idea of people who are small C conservative and probably have environmentalist tendencies since they wish to conserve our country and those with right wing political views who support the ideas of the Market Fundamentalists. Of course with the Tory party also being called the Conservatives there is huge scope for being confused. However, it is clear to me that those who claim to support the Conservative and Unionist Party are very much not ‘conservative’… Read more »

CJPh
CJPh
9 months ago
Reply to  Peter Cuthbert

Nicely put. Conservatism, put simply, are those who wish to preserve Chesterton’s fence, at least until its purpose has been established. For environmentalist conservationism, I would agree that what you’ve outlined would be a view held by many ‘conservatives’. But conservation comes in many more forms, priorities falling where principle lies. For me, I am very conservative regarding our language, heritage and culture. Access to these things and ‘membership’ of it, exceedingly liberal. On the environmental front, I think progress via market-driven technical proliferation will be the way we overcome concerns (as we’ve found with hunger, education and the horse… Read more »

Last edited 9 months ago by CJPh
Che Guevara's Fist
Che Guevara's Fist
9 months ago
Reply to  CJPh

“Radically ignorant” is another one you can put on that sordid list of your character traits as well, especially with the uncanny ability of spouting historical untruths.

Aled Gwyn Job
Aled Gwyn Job
9 months ago

Mwy fyth o synnwyr cyffredin gan YES Cymru. Diolch am y newid agwedd mawr sydd wedi digwydd ers penodi Gwern Gwynfil. YES Cymru are growing up in embracing pluralism of this nature. Nationalists need to accept at long last that there is a genuinely Welsh, small ‘c’ conservative worldview which has been an essential component of our identity for 1,500 years. How would we have survived as a nation for all these centuries without a deep, innate desire to preserve and conserve our language and culture? And I would argue that our love for and deep attachment towards our landscape… Read more »

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