Why I’m not ‘Labour, really’
On the eve of the Welsh Labour conference, Sioned Williams MS, Plaid Cymru’s spokesperson for social justice and equalities, writes about the egalitarian ethos that shapes the political views of many people in Wales, and how the modern Labour party is stepping away from these core socialist values.
Sioned Williams MS
As Plaid Cymru’s spokesperson for Social Justice and equalities, campaigning on issues of poverty and discrimination, I’m sometimes told that I’m “Labour, really.”
“Sioned’s on the Left, Sioned’s a Lefty – she’s Labour really.”
And certainly, there are some Labour ancestors in my family.
Indeed, my grandmother was card carrying Labour Party member and I’m told her brother, my great uncle Dai Wil, was Aneurin Bevan’s agent in one of his early elections.
But let me tell you why, today, I’m not “Labour, really”.
Before we get to that, let’s take a look at Labour in Wales. They call themselves ‘Welsh Labour’ – they even have a conference starting today – but structurally, they are part of the UK Labour party. They’re not even separately registered with the Electoral Commission.
This is a particular problem right now as Keir Starmer – the true head of Welsh Labour – shifts the party to the right. It’s becoming ever clearer that Westminster will never work for Wales, whatever the colour of the government.
There have been mutterings about whether Welsh Labour needs to make itself into a distinct brand. These mutterings have turned to action, this weekend, and Labour Party members will be asked to vote on a motion to “further devolve the rulebook to Welsh Labour”.
They won’t, of course, use the word ‘independence’.
It is clear that if people in Wales really want to be free of Westminster, if they really want to make sure that the seat of power sits in Wales, not in another parliament, in another country, then there’s only one way to get it: That’s through independence for Wales.
But more on that later.
Not Labour, really
So that’s your first indication of why I’m not “Labour, really.”
I’m not Labour, because when it comes to Westminster and the Union, Labour in Wales faces both ways. The ‘clear red waters’ of Rhodri Morgan’s politics – a strategy to distance ‘Welsh Labour’ from Tony Blair’s ‘New Labour’ – was more rhetoric than reality and, in any case, are long gone. A red herring.
Welsh Labour won’t challenge Starmer despite UK Labour actively undermining Wales and the ‘Welsh’ Labour branch. This is no clearer than in Keir Starmer’s refusal to commit to giving more powers to Wales. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that UK Labour is simply out of touch with Wales and its needs.
Yet the Labour First Minister for Wales, Mark Drakeford tells us that the United Kingdom is a “great insurance policy.” It’s clear that this is one insurance policy that won’t pay out.
I’m not Labour, because their unionism will always trump their socialism, even when Wales suffers as a result.
I’m not Labour, because I won’t stomach Starmer’s kow-towing to the right wing English press to gain power.
I’m not Labour, because I lived through the Blair years and witnessed the way he sought to resurrect British Neo-Imperialism in a disastrous war in Iraq.
I’m not Labour, because – while they claim to want Wales to be a Nation of Sanctuary – Labour still think the power to decide who is deserving of our welcome should lie in Westminster – tying Wales to the monstrous Tory policies that see people fleeing from harm turned away and abandoned to their fate.
It’s been shocking to hear Labour, including Welsh Labour MPs, accepting and adopting the thoroughly immoral, dehumanising rhetoric of the Tories regarding refugees this last week.
I’m not Labour, because they completely failed to reject and resist Brexit and continue to refuse to support entry into the single market.
I’m not Labour because – while declaring at every turn their trade union history, they are nowhere to be seen on the picket lines.
In fact, in a recent Senedd debate on opposing the pernicious Tory Anti Strike legislation, the Labour benches were empty – quite literally. We even called them out on it! And to top it off, Plaid Cymru’s call to devolve employment law to protect our right to strike rejected by their ministers.
Therefore the idea that to emphasise social justice and equality is to make you ‘Labour really’ is to ignore the last fifty years of political history.
If you’re Welsh, and believe that we should be striving for a fairer, more equal nation, one that supports its workers and protects their rights – then increasingly, Labour is not for you, really.
In fact, if you’re, like me, an internationalist, embracing a Welsh Europeanism that would give Wales a voice in the world…
Or if, like me, you want to protect the rights that created co-operative, caring, collaborative communities that we can be proud of today…
Or if, like me, you do not believe that any Westminster Government – or ‘Welsh’ parties affiliated to UK based parents – can be trusted to safeguard the interests of the people of Wales….
Or if you’ve had enough of our nation being mismanaged and exploited by Westminster, and constantly having to fold ourselves to fit in with UK based party plans…
…Then, in Wales, there really is just one alternative. That’s Plaid Cymru, the Party of Wales. Because we’re ‘not really’ anything else.
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I needed to see that this morning.
Cymru am bith! Annibyniaeth
Superb! Diolch yn Fawr! Just what everyone in Cymru must read this morning! I’m on the left & a nationalist because Marx believed nations need to be free to join the international.
“Its our interest and our task to make the revolution permanent until all the more or less propertied classes have been driven from their ruling positions, until the proletariat has conquered state power and until the association of the proletarians has progressed sufficiently far – not only in one country but in all the leading countries of the world … Our concern cannot simply be to modify private property, but to abolish it, not to hush up class antagonisms but to abolish classes, not to improve the existing society but to found a new one” – Karl “Ignore your illegitimate… Read more »
Problem is your selectivity & misinterpretation. When Marxists speak of private property under capitalism, it refers to the tools of production that should be owned by all of society, such as factories, lands, stores, mines and all those things that are gifts of nature or are built by many people over many centuries, but are now being monopolized by a few.These few don’t concern themselves with how many years of human labor went into their creation, just so long as they alone can reap profits from legal ownership of that property. So your interpretation of Private property is wrong. It… Read more »
Dear me, resentment is a hell of a drug. The problem is your inability to answer the question directly. I offered no interpretation of the Marxian view on private vs personal property (which I will now – it’s beyond reductive, economically infantile and philosophically confused. It denies basic human nature, merit and reframes markets as a form of ideology. Plus, you know, it’s evil). I just quoted the loon and asked your opinion. I ask again – do you endorse these DIRECT QUOTATIONS from Marx or not? Also, obfuscatory comments regarding Marx’ roll in inspiring the largest acts of repression… Read more »
Well, of course, capitalism is doing so well again isn’t it? As we merrily spend our way to climate disaster! 🤣😂🤣😂🤣! You blame the failure of others on Marx? WTF? He set out an option to the cruel pillaging of the ruling class. You sound like an over educated idiot or a very good approximation of one. Life is too short to waste it on conceited fools. Bye, bye!
Well, now we have the room, what with the child gone off to bed without their supper,can I just point out that the question was never answered. Indeed, as it pertains to the many, many misdeeds of every prominent Marxist/Marxian regime, movement and most prominent individuals (the famous letter from Foucault, Derrida, de Beauvoir et al about the age of consent? Won’t get off the hook, postmodernists) not a single Marxist has ever, ever admitted that any aspect of the ideology led to the outcomes. Real socialism/communism has, of course, never been tried. Maybe there’s a problem with the model?… Read more »
You obviously have no knowledge of Marx or history. For him and his lunatic friends nations were at best a nuisance, at worse to be destroyed as part of the new socialist paradise. Ask the people of the newly freed nations in central and eastern Europe what a wonderful life they had, well, those that survived, anyway. I was in Tallinn in January. In the old town square there was a concert of traditional music and folk dancing. I spoke to one of the organisers who told, with tears in his eyes, how the communists tried to stamp out his… Read more »
Absolute hysterical nonsense! To blame Marx for the failures of others to implement his theories, is contemptuous.
Same is true of Jesus, if it hadn’t been for Paul and his hallucination on the road to Damascus…
I thought we were all Pelagians on here…
Talking of Fishy Rishi he is off, too much sewage in UK waters for him, that or he has jumped ship to play defence minister in the USA until Lineker has been made safe…
Footballers 2 Prime Ministers 0
Well, well, it is 2 hour drive from San Diego Naval Base (venue for Rishi’s supposed chat about nuclear subs) to Santa Monica (Mrs Sunak’s beach-side penthouse apartment)…
There’s handy for you.!! He’s doing a Fat Shanks runner in the King’s plane at our expense…
Must check with the bookies the odds on them not coming back cos those nasty common soccer players are after him and his rotten BBC mates and its all Fat Shanks and Braverman’s fault…
No heretics here, honest! It was some welshman down in siciliy that started preaching about eating the moderately well off. Even Pelagius Morgan himself slowly backed away from that bloke.
Thank you for your courteous response. You obviously enjoy ignoring the lessons of history.
An excellent piece, Sioned! A powerful argument for voting Plaid.
It’s clear that Welsh Labour is heading towards irrelevance, following the drift to the right by the UK Labour Party (Starmer says Me Too to more deeply regrettable Tory policies). The best thing about Labour in Cymru today is the growing influence of IndyLabour.
Post-independence, we will need to strong Labour party in Cymru to challenge and complement a strong Plaid Cymru.
A powerful argument? “We aren’t Labour” is a powerful argument in Wales? Come off it. On Labour and Plaid after indy – they’ll merge, no doubt about it. Plaid Llafur Cymru will be born. What’s the point of Plaid after indy? A strong Left, a reasonable Right (big ask, but the Welsh public deserve actual dissenting voices), the Greens and an actual Liberal party would all do quite well in a free Cymru.
That vision of a range of parties on a Right to Left spectrum, if you see that as still being relevant, will never be tolerated by the “my way or no way” pseudo leftie thinkers that are currently hogging attention. These are the blinkered totalitarians who so lacking in self awareness that they call their opponents “fascists” when it is amply evident that it is they who most closely resemble Adolf’s mob but without the shabby old brown gear and jackboots. And that may come in time.
A freer Cymru will (hopefully) put their nonsense in the spotlight, a spotlight that will wither them completely. Wales is not a happy home for such metropolitan frippery. The only way they get any traction today is that we’re still bound to the rUK.
“Cymru is not a happy home to such frippery” my thoughts too and not entirely happy ones at that. But an outcrop of white rock and a good place to start digging… The obscure noun coated in adjectives that you two have hacked out of Clogau mountain needs (imho) some refining to expose the shiny yellow metal contained between the quartz and the granite… Can I suggest that the editor commissions one or both of you to author a piece on the nature of the Cymru that you see needed to survive and prosper in the 21st century…It is a… Read more »
MI5 can bloomin’ Well ask me themselves! Yeesh, what does a poor bolshevik need to do to get some attention round here? 😉⚒️✊
Don’t mention uniforms, the shame of such poor and suspect military tailoring in the 70’s…
As a Plaid Cymru member I will never support Plaid Cymru merging with Labour and many in in Plaid also would oppose it.
We need a multi-party system in an independent Wales, we will have elections using the STV system.
All parties from all opinions may stand for elections as long as support the new Welsh nation as an independent country within the United Nations.
Plaid Cymru in an independent Wales will possibly join an Alliance with the Liberal democrats as a ALDE member to campaign for the new Wales to join the European Union.
I certainly hope you’re right, Ernie. I fear not, according to many statements from Plaid politicians through the years.
It could be argued that Labour’s abandonment of their principles began when they abandoned the core, founding principle of home rule.
By 1979, they had deviated so far from those principles that they would sooner let Thatcher walk into power than respect the outcome of the first referendum on Scottish devolution.
Plaid and the SNP have been closer to Labour’s core principles than Labour are for decades now.
Commendable in recognition of a problem – Why vote Plaid (and thus support Indy) if we are indistinguishable from Labour? That’s 1 electoral issue. Nowhere near the main one, but still. Her answer, however, defines Plaid by stating what we are not, the weakest most pathetic nonsense definition possible. Her concept of Indy rests within the extant system, a system which cannot allow our freedom – Plaid speak more about Westminster than any of the UK parties. There was always some credence to the old English slur “you define your national character by merely stating its opposition to ours” (actually… Read more »
“Plaid and Sioned Williams do not want independence, they want THEIR independence. “
Is it possible that the flip side is that you want YOUR independence.
I don’t believe so, no. As much as I do have political proclivities, I advocate for a non partisan, non ideological approach – everyone, without predefined notions, pulling towards the one goal of freedom. Good, reasonable left wingers and leftists (like yourself), liberals like me and the more conservative or protectionist types can all see eye to eye on our freedom from rUK. We then fight it out at the ballot box like a normal country. By predefining what Wales MUST be if we are to be independent (as most Plaid Ifanc/X members, functionaries and elected ASs and MPs now… Read more »
I think the First Pass the Post system is the brake on growing pro-independence support rather than a “leftist” Plaid Cymru turning off “rightist” voters.
If Plaid was a single issue party ie independence then both Labour and Tory parties would be able to dismiss it.
There may be votes to be gained by a “rightist” pro independence party but it would have to argue that their potential voters’ interests are better served by an independent Cymru rather than getting what they want through Tory or red Tory UK governments in Westminster.
That’s what the SNP thought when undertaking a project of single-party dominance in Scotland. Then they failed. Plaid should be wishing for reasonable opposition that are pro indy. They refuse to speak with ANY other parties until such a time as the Welsh electorate can be served by parties that are Welsh. Instead they seek to work with parties that do not believe Wales is a nation that can govern herself. Welsh “rightists” (all 6 of them) will largely stay pro UK. the vast majority of the Welsh public cannot be put into either a right or left box. However,… Read more »
Bendigedig, Sioned. Dw i’n cytuno. Welsh Labour can’t represent Wales’ best interests and be unionist at the same time. It’s also conflicted by trying to play to centre politics and traditional Labour values at the same time. It has to ditch unionism and cut the cord with UK Labour, or else risk splitting. Indy-Labour is already a symptom of this tension.
After his outburst slagging off the nurses union Lee Waters sounds anything but Labour…
100% agreed. No respect for champagne socialists. Unfortunately, that’s most of them in Wales. How many properties do Plaid higher ups own again? How many LONDON properties? We’re being duped by untalented careerists masquerading as people who care. My enmity towards the far Left and far Right is based on the sins of the past and our inability to learn those lessons. These LARP-ing kleptocrats are a different thing – they wield actual power. Then again, the resentment-fueled contradictions are seemingly accelerating and the repressive tolerance is being instated, comrades. Further, in may places in the world, the simultaneous other-ing… Read more »
As ever, a Plaid MS has nothing to say. Er, sorry, she has. Every wicked deed in the world is the fault of them wicked Tories and all that is needed is the great socialist workers paradise. We need, nor deserve, neither. A question for her? If Labour is that bad, why is your party propping up a Labour government; sorry I forgot, Adam Price likes being deputy first minister, it saves actually having to win a majority. The really worrying issue is that inconvenient matter of the truth. Plaid Cymru, after wandering around in the twilight world of socialism… Read more »
Selling a 3-wheeled car: “What does your product do?” – “Well, it certainly isn’t one of those damnable Robin Reliants, I’ll tell you that! Now, let me spend 40 years telling you exactly how not a Robin Reliant our product is! Then you’ll want what we are selling”.
well it might be a campagna t-rex.
Plaid’s not advocating Communism or federalism. No need to wig out
If it walks like a duck… “Just as our economy needs to be redesigned so it acts as engine of the creation and redistribution of wealth, our health and care systems need to be designed to create and redistribute wellbeing.” Adam Price – Economic and Medical super brain, Landlord, Consultant.
I agree with Mab Meirion here: you obviously have concerns, are presumably well informed, can write, and you don’t have a problem sharing your opinion; so why not write a piece on the best prospects for a free and independent Wales as you see them? It would be great if you could also write one laying out the evidence as to why you’re so convinced Plaid Cymru is a front for bringing about a murderous Communist dictatorship. I don’t think the above quote proves anything except that Adam Price has a conscience
First off, diolch to both of you (plus capM and Paddy Phillips, when he turns up, and a few others) for being admirable voices for the Welsh Left – you all seem genuinely oriented towards advocacy for working people and engage in disagreement honestly and honourably. Too many interlocutors of all stripes simply don’t play the game “in good faith”, you guys do. Maybe put yourselves up for selection for office – I’d listen and certainly consider voting. Honesty seems in short supply in our present political class. On writing an article, I like the message boards. Back and forths… Read more »
See, that wasn’t hard but it was better than 90% of what gets written, diolch for taking my bait with such erudite decency…
If anybody wants to experience the opposite try and read Ms Birchill in the Spectator…
“…..try and read Ms Birchill in the Spectator…” No thanks! Gotta be some kind of masochist to dip into that.
Please read the so-called independence manifesto published by P C last year.
It is unequivocally committed to federalism.
Diolch bois, agreed, it’s good to debate these things even if we don’t agree on everything. These are important conversations to have now.
Dr John Ball, respectfully if you mean Y Ffordd i Annibyiath, the argument about federalism is all about why federalism wouldn’t work. Plaid wants a republic
No it doesn’t!
Would you provide a quote and/or document&page reference that indicates why you think Plaid Cymru is “unequivocally committed to federalism”. Diolch.
Y Fordd i Annibyniaeth (2022), p.87: “We have set out our belief [in Chapter 2] that neither further devolution nor federalism offer sustainable solutions to Wales’ constitutional predicament.”
Plaid Cymru therefore advocates ‘Free Association’ (in accord with UN resolution 1541/ see p.91) as a stepping stone to full and unequovical independence.
Do you mean you believe Free Association is the same thing as federalism, perhaps?
Why do people think that if you want Welsh independence you must be on the left? There are people who are on the right who also want Welsh independence. It’s immature to keep pushing the narrative that those who are on the right are Unionists. Most of Wales are Labour voters and yet only a minority would vote for independence. Not even all members of Plaid Cymru support independence.
I hate maths but you got me thinking, so in the general it is 41% Lab 46% Con/PC and in the Senedd it is 38% Lab and 51% Con/Lib/PC…
but if you look at the distribution map it is a case of how dare the South East tell the rest of us what to do…
If, as Drakeford states, the English Empire (which some still call the United Kingdom) is a ‘great insurance policy’, I want a refund of my premium payments.
I believe you Sioned,but ‘objectively’ as the Maxíst used to say Adam Price is ‘really’Labour.
From my experience people are better off voting elsewhere. Too many toxic people inside the party at grass roots level. Full of talk and no action.