A Plaid Cymru and Conservative coalition would help Wales move on from the 80s

Big Pit. Picture by Steinsky (CC BY-SA 2.5)

Benjiman L. Angwin

Welsh democracy will not fully mature until the Labour party’s dominant position in our country faces serious opposition.

This will be difficult to achieve as voting Labour in many parts of Wales is as much an expression of belonging to a community as it is a vote for a political vision or particular set of policies.

In the same way that many in ‘Y Fro Gymraeg’ vote Plaid Cymru because of a sense of belonging, so do many vote Labour in the ‘Welsh Wales’ of the south-east.

Unfortunately, while a competitive political sphere forces parties to change and innovate, voting for the same political party repeatedly leads to stagnation.

After 95 years of Labour rule, Wales is the poorest country in Western Europe.

As the Native American civil rights activist DeShane Stokes said: ‘Blind party loyalty will be our downfall. We must follow the truth wherever it leads.’

Bête Noire

But what is keeping Labour in power in Wales is not so much their vote – they only won 34.7% at the last election – but Plaid Cymru’s reluctance to work with the Conservatives.

Labour has been a minority government for most of the Senedd’s existence but have always managed to cling on to power by divide and rule.

The greatest trick Labour has pulled in Wales is to divide the opposition with constant anti-Tory rhetoric, casting them as the ‘enemy’, as a bête noire.

This rhetoric has strongly influenced Plaid Cymru which has been reluctant to work with the Conservatives, even at council level.

For instance, the Plaid Cymru leader of Conwy county – former AM Gareth Jones – had to leave the party to form a coalition with the Conservatives.

Healing

The solution to this problem is for Wales to move on politically from what happened in the 70s and 80s under Thatcher.

I understand that this will be difficult. It will require a certain amount of communal forgiveness. It will require effort.

Having Plaid Cymru and the Conservatives work together would allow that healing process to begin to take place.

It would show that working with Conservatives at the Senedd would not cause the sky to fall in.

Especially if that coalition could take real, practical steps to help people in the former industrial communities scarred by the 80s.

Wales could put aside prejudices and hatreds which have been built up over the last 94 years of Labour rule, and forgive those portrayed as enemies by those in power.

As Martin Luther King said, ‘Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?’

Wales is not one ideology

Labour is not Wales and Wales is not Labour. It is not healthy to have a party in power for one hundred years which only represents a fraction of the country.

Welshness cannot be expressed by one small part of the political spectrum; Cymru is more than that.

I hope Plaid and the Tories will consider abandoning prejudices and differences in economic ideologies and working together to make this happen.

It would take a lot of political bravery, and some forgiveness.

But it would be the break with the past that would allow Welsh democracy to mature and move on from the battles of the 80s, to a new post-devolution era.


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Gareth
Guest
Gareth

Hear hear, real shame the rainbow alliance fell though in 2007.

Sadly can’t see this happening with Andrew RT and Leanne though (in a parallel universe Elin Jones and Nick Ramsey yes, Rhun and Paul Davies in the future possibly)

Plaid would have to park any aspiration of an independence referendum though and I think that would be a pill the membership especially the young ones on twitter would struggle to swallow.

Leia
Guest

Hmm. Interesting idea but it didn’t pan out that well for the Lib Dems did it! It certainly did manage to destroy them but I’m not sure it turned them into the Tories friends!

“The enemy of my enemy is my friend” seems like a horrible admission of defeat to me, to be honest.

Gregory
Guest
Gregory

This is all quite reasonable until you start to wonder what it is the Tories have done for Wales – ever? Let’s not even raise of truly grotesque spectre of John Redwood. Or even think about the fact that substantial areas of Wales are being converted into holiday parks or retirement compounds for Conservative-voting emigres from the Home Counties who can’t or won’t internalise the fact that they are in another country. I’m being slightly facetious, I know, and I am no more a Labour supporter than I am a Tory, and I most certainly do agree with the essential… Read more »

Gwynoro Jones
Guest
Gwynoro Jones

Before Brexit I argued for a Rainbow Alliance back 10 years ago. Now in a different situation entirely – too many policy divisions that are unbridgeable.

Angharad Shaw
Guest

This article really is not very helpful. It will give fodder for those (mainly Labour supporters) who have been trying to smear Plaid with being somehow not as radical as them. We saw only a couple of months ago what happens even at council level when there is the suggestion of working with the Tories (in Conwy). And quite right, too. It won’t, and can’t happen – at least, not for a very long time (by when hopefully the Tories will have completed their journey on the path to oblivion), for many reasons. You mention just one. Thatcher. Well, the… Read more »

Dafydd ap Gwilym
Guest

Agree, just another distraction! Unhelpful!

Rachel Allen
Guest
Rachel Allen

Couldn’t agree more!

JD
Guest
JD

I would love for this to happen, but how can the Welsh tories abandon unionism and how can Plaid abandon independence? The real answer is to form a new party which rejects both socialism and Westminster. Who’s up for it?

Capitalist and Welshnash
Guest
Capitalist and Welshnash

Cool

Dafydd ap Gwilym
Guest

I think this is another British political trap. Move on from the “battles of 80s” (which the Tories caused) we do not need coalitions, a coalition is for a political estanlishment that has failed, that is the British and we want no part of British politics!

sibrydionmawr
Guest

But, by definition, any broad nationalist will be a coalition – is this why Welsh nationalism has failed? The alternative to coalition is to have many different parties professing their own take on the national question, which is seen as flawed.

There is also the slight problem that the majority of people in Wales aren’t in favour of independence, even if many of them did vote for ‘taking back control’. Ironic, eh?

Amelia Davies
Guest
Amelia Davies

I agree Gregory – futile indeed. I can’t see any possibility of working with the current crop of Tory AMs – it would take an ideolgical earthquake to shift them from their ‘Unionist’ stance and Westminster priorities.

Elfed Jones
Guest
Elfed Jones

FFS, who writes this bu***t ?

Capitalist and Welshnash
Guest
Capitalist and Welshnash

Well, we must do something to get Labour out. A century is quite enough.

Dafis
Guest
Dafis

“It will require a certain amount of communal forgiveness. It will require effort.” Quite an understatement. Shifting Labour out of the pole position it occupies is a priority but the more I reflect on the Tory “offering” there is no way that Plaid should get into bed with that lot and expect to come out later with anything other than a bad dose of political c**p. As said earlier you don’t need to revisit Thatcher’s era to find reasons for avoiding this lot. I voted to Leave the EU but as a stepping stone to leaving the UK. Both the… Read more »

Gareth
Guest
Gareth

“I voted to Leave the EU but as a stepping stone to leaving the UK.”

Cheers, for that. You’ve successfully helped set Wales (and England, Scotland and NI) back a generation economically and politically.

Your children and your children’s children will thank you for that. Not :-/

JD
Guest
JD

I really don’t understand people like you. Have you ever taken 10 minutes to actually look at what the EU is? It is a sclerotic, inflexible, neoliberal organisation which has shat on working people for decades. It works in the interests of big business and is fundamentally undemocratic. Dafis was right to vote leave – it will be a quicker path to eventual Welsh independence.

You can’t advocate more power for Wales whilst shackling yourself to the EU. Every country should be independent, sovereign with its own laws on immigration, finance, taxes etc. That is true independence.

sibrydionmawr
Guest

True, the EU is all that, but Westminster is worse. And that was why I voted to remain.

Dafis
Guest
Dafis

You think the EU would have eventually helped you get out of UK ? Not bloody likely – that’s the ruling elite of Europe operating in concert defending their vested interests.

leigh richards
Guest

Benjiman writes “I understand that this will be difficult” er impossible more like Ben! Plaid Cymru is committed to securing independence for wales while the tories are – as theresa may so recently reminded everyone when agreeing the DUP deal – the conservative and ‘unionist party’. This is not a mere ‘difference’ it is a fundamental and irreconcilable difference. Then there’s the little matter of the tories being a right of center party which among other things wants to undermine the rights of working people and erode the welfare state and plaid cymru is a left of center party that… Read more »

Silurydd
Guest

In the current political environment, I disagree. The Tories are toxic for a large part of the Welsh electorate. They will remain so until the Welsh Tories have forged a distinct identity based on a clear commitment to Welsh rather than Westminster interests. The fiasco over their failure to figure out who their leader was for the Welsh leaders’ debate — TM’s placeman Alun Cairns or the Assembly group leader Andrew RT — clearly illustrates that they have a long way to go before they can be regarded as anything other than Westminster stooges.

Tim Richards
Guest
Tim Richards

This has to be the most naive “political opinion” I have ever read

Vivienne Jenkins
Guest

What Dafydd ap Gwilym said.

A Gog
Guest
A Gog

Cymru is poor, this is down to whoever is in Westminster. It doesn’t mean a jot who the Cymreig Vote’s for in any Election. Independence is Paramount – It’s time to think outside their broken Box.

Dewi ap Dafydd
Guest
Dewi ap Dafydd

Not just to think outside the box. Forget all about the existance of the box, and set up new boundaries.

Silurydd
Guest

I strongly disagree in the current political climate. The Tories toxic for a large part of the Welsh electorate. They will remain so until they have forged a distinct identity based on an unequivocal commitment to pursuing Welsh not Westminster interests. The fiasco over their inability to figure out for the Welsh leaders’ debate whether they were led by TM’s placeman (Cairns) or Assembly group leader (Andrew RT) illustrates how far they have to go.

Cymru Rydd
Guest
Cymru Rydd

I agree with the comments that Plaid Cymru should avoid central association with the Conservative Part like the plague at this point in time. The Conservative party is undergoing a seismic civil war over Europe( as indeed are Labour), and they are going to be destroyed by the fall-out. Best keep well clear. However, there’s a difference between the Conservative and Unionist Party and Conservatism as a political philosophy. I would argue that Conservatism as a philosophy can indeed help to develop Wales as a nation. There’s a clue in the name- To Conserve. To create a viable Welsh future:… Read more »

flofflach
Guest
flofflach

I couldn’t support the Conservatives in any shape or form – what they have done and continue to do to the people who have the least say, the least power, the least money, is appalling. The abandonment of science with regard to doing something about bTB… Agree with A Gog, Westminster is still a big influence.
But I do believe working together is a positive thing.
Oh and on mention of voting leave as a step to Wales leaving UK from Dafis, I feel the opposite, I think the EU [despite it’s faults] is a good umbrella for smaller countries.

Roger Harris
Guest
Roger Harris

Anyone thought that this may be a bit of mischiefmaking. All people will see from this. Even though it is not there. Is that Plaid are joining the Conservatives in a coalition. It is just one persons fancy full idea that would be better off being kept to themselves. Instead of creating something out of nothing.

Trailorboy
Guest
Trailorboy

awful idea – a separatist – unionist alliance? .

That’s not to say that there isn’t room for a new non-unionist Conservative party, but it won’t win more than a couple of seats – just like Plaid I suppose, but in reverse.

Capitalist and Welshnash
Guest
Capitalist and Welshnash

The author does have a point. Our main focus needs to be dislodging Labour.

Owain W
Guest

“After 95 years of Labour rule, Wales is the poorest country in Western Europe.”

There’s the rub. Some people believe that Welsh people voting Labour means that Labour have ruled Wales for all that time. They haven’t. By my count, Labour only governed the UK for 22 years prior to devolution. Let’s not pretend that Wales’ economic underdevelopment sprang solely from those isolated periods, or from what has happened after devolution. Wales is poor because of a long history of British Conservatism.

Martin
Guest
Martin

Wales has not had 95 years of Labour rule. Simple fact. Devolution came about partly because Wales was voting Labour and “getting Thatcher”.

But there are local authorities which have been ruled by Labour for up to 90 years, creating attendant problems of one party dominance.

An issue I have is that the purposeful deindustrialisation of Wales took place mostly under Conservative rule, but Labour rule has failed to undo the damage.

Trailorboy
Guest
Trailorboy

And a party focussed solely on the premise of dislodging Labour is a party with no real vision of its own, simply reacting to the actions of the other.

Tame Frontiersman
Guest
Tame Frontiersman

A Plaid- Conservative coalition in Cardiff Bay would only serve to deepen the cynicism in politicians and the political process

If cynicism or ideological inconsistency isn’t problematic, then a Plaid-Conservative pact at Westminster a few weeks back might have netted Wales some much needed cash. £400,000,000, if the going rate is £100,000,000 per vote

Barbara Lund
Guest
Barbara Lund

Just to be clear, the headline of your article appears to suggest that the Labour Party has had an overt role in Cymru being the porest country in Western Europe. On this basis, it would have been helpful if the article could have substantiated this premise with evidence demonstrating the Labour Party’s contribution to the country’s alleged current position.

CambroUiDunlainge
Guest
CambroUiDunlainge

1997-2010. Lets not blame all that on 7 years of Tory rule. The Valleys have been given the fresh coat of paint but the old problems of the early 90s are still there – the top of the Valleys being one of the most impoverished places in Western Europe. Don’t get me wrong – thats on the Tories in the 80s – but considering what a power house of support the Valleys are for Labour you’d think that it’d be a bit better off than the bottom of Europe?

Barbara Lund
Guest
Barbara Lund

#poorest

sibrydionmawr
Guest

Quite simply, as Aneurin Bevan reminded us, Tories are lower than vermin. That should be enough to discourage any decent thinking person from considering such an unholy alliance. We should not be duped into thinking that our enemy’s enemy is our friend. Welsh Labour are indeed a liability, but the reason they are still so powerful in Wales is because Plaid, and the nationalist cause in general hasn’t convinced a majority that they can do a better job. That they could hardly do a worse job is neither here nor there, Labour is the devil they know. And it’s not… Read more »

Capitalist and Welshnash
Guest
Capitalist and Welshnash

Sybrydionfawr,
Mae’n swnio braidd ‘the enemy within’. Ar ôl annobyniaeth, bydd ceidwadaeth yn rhan o Gymru. Mae ceidwadwyr (c bach) yn rhan o’n gwlad ni. Sgen i ddim diddordeb mewn annibyniaeth sy’n gweld popeth i’r dde i Aneurin Bevan fel gelyn.

Pwy wyt ti ddweud wrth Gymry fod nhw’n gelynion Cymru?

sibrydionmawr
Guest

Ddywedais i ddim bod Gymry’n gelynion Cymru, onf Toriaid yn gelynion, neu Ceidwadwyr, os mynnwch chi. Ac does gen i ddim diddordeb mewn Cymru annibynnol sy’n cynnwys unrhywbeth asgell dde. Cyfalafwyr rhonc a ffasgwyr sy’n gwir gelynion y Cymry.-

Capitalist and Welshnash
Guest
Capitalist and Welshnash

Ond dyna’r pwynt, bydd Cymru annibynnol yn cynnwys plaid ganol-dde a thraddodiadwyr. Dyn ni’n rhan o Gymru a Chymreictod.

Silurydd
Guest

For me (and I believe for many others in Wales), the objection to the Tories is not tribal or ideological. It is the fact that they are so wedded to centralised Westminster control that they are unable to acknowledge the distinct interests and identity of Wales, nor are they committed to putting the interests of Welsh communities and the Welsh nation first. In principle, I believe in broad-church consensus politics and pragmatic collaboration. But the Tories will remain beyond the pale until they can demonstrate that they are capable of putting Wales first.

Silurydd
Guest

In practice, I think this would require substantial independence (i.e. severing the link with Tory Central Office in London) for the Welsh Conservative Party. I don’t see that happening any time soon. In the meantime, parties and movements in Wales that do make greater efforts to represent Welsh interests should find a way to embrace an undeniable centre-right constituency in Wales. It is a pity that Plaid has shed its broad-church approach. Yes Cymru embraces non-party / cross-party support. I would urge people of the centre-right who care about Wales’s distinct interests and concerns, and feel disillusioned by the Tories’… Read more »

Trailorboy
Guest
Trailorboy

You can’t be all things to all people without zero conviction – this is mercenary politics at its lowest.

If Wales needs multiple party’s, with differing opinions on the side of Welsh interests then great, but banging all opinions together into one party is bonkers.

CambroUiDunlainge
Guest
CambroUiDunlainge

Surely we who consider ourselves Welsh nationalists have one opinion that rules them all? That Westminster is bad, pro-Unionism is bad and that we need to take control of our own future? Two or three political parties scrabbling for power are often going to clash heads and probably be a threat to each others membership and voters – therefor will likely will work together. Whats better? 2-3 causes with 2-3 voices? Or on cause and one voice? No one person has the complete same opinions as the next so any movement is a product of “banging all opinions together”.

CambroUiDunlainge
Guest
CambroUiDunlainge

*therefor will be unlikely to work together

Oops. =)

Trailorboy
Guest
Trailorboy

“That Westminster is bad, pro-Unionism is bad and that we need to take control of our own future?” – I buy into those three, but the vision of a post independence Wales is what I really want to see, rather than this and that is bad etc A movement like Yes Cymru can focus on these things and be a political umbrella, but I don’t know how a political party going into elections would be able to “duck and dive” without a foundation based on shared wider values. Perhaps there is an alternative consensual political foundation, but I don’t see… Read more »

Silurydd
Guest

Fully with you on a proper spectrum of political parties. The problem is that there is currently no room for centre-right voters who care about Welsh communities and interests more than centralised Westminster government. Also, there are some fundamental issues now that should transcend traditional party boundaries. A fair funding settlement for Wales. Devolution of all of the emergency services, including policing and criminal justice. The establishment of a proper Welsh jurisdiction (like Scotland and NI) to interpret and enforce laws made in our Senedd. The 1M Welsh speakers goal. A plethora of issues arising from Brexit. etc. etc. None… Read more »

Silurydd
Guest

I remember when there was a large “Tartan Tory” contingent in Scotland. They have now flocked en masse to the SNP — which has proven what can be achieved through a “broad-church” approach.

CambroUiDunlainge
Guest
CambroUiDunlainge

Yes.Cymru is considered by many to be an organisation which is slipping too the Left. Due to Plaid Cymru there’s more organisation among nationalists on the Left than in the centre and right – that is as much centre/right people’s fault as much as Plaid really.

Capitalist and Welshnash
Guest
Capitalist and Welshnash

I shall for one be attending Indyfest for YesCymru in Caerdydd, and if I see the Centre-right, yet again in another patriotic Welsh movement, has no voice whatsoever and is looked at as ‘the enemy’, I shant be joining their mudiad.

Silurydd
Guest
Silurydd

I am confident you will find the culture at Yes Cymru events to be tolerant, inclusive and welcoming to all who care about Welsh communities and interests, irrespective of their standing on the democratic left-right scale. Enjoy Indyfest.

Martin
Guest
Martin

Is the point being missed here? The Rainbow coalition included the Liberal Democrats, not UKIP. The world has changed since then but a Plaid-Cons coalition would need Liberal Democrats, or it would not be possible.

Keith Parry
Guest
Keith Parry

All Unionist parties are the same, they support London Government of Wales and offer nothing to the people of Wales. Plaid Cymru needs to be campaigning for independence, taking support from a broad spectrum of public opinion. Indeed we should be doing what he SNP has done.

Cymru Rydd
Guest
Cymru Rydd

As a YES CYMRU member, I fully expect that the movement will be fully representative of Wales’s political opinion right across the spectrum from left to centre to right. Having such an alignment in not “bonkers” at all- it is the only way to move ahead to present Independence as a credible and viable option to the people of Wales, over and above the old party tribalism which is such a turn off for so many people today. YES CYMRU should propose a set of common-sense ideas that can gain traction in all parts of our country, whatever one’s personal… Read more »

sibrydionmawr
Guest

Not really, ‘small -scale’ capitalism is still capitalism. It might just be acceptable if it was watched and not allowed to get to big and powerful, but not really what we need, I don’t think. A citizen’s income would be a good idea, but not with conditions, it needs to be unconditional, otherwise you are undermining someone’s freedom to say no to small – scale capitalists, (and big-scale capitalists too) who would try to mercilessly exploit them for low wages. Most people would want to do something for their communities anyway, and it would be much better all round if… Read more »

Silurydd
Guest

Couldn’t we all agree that the Welsh people should have control of our own destiny? Surely, any political, economic and social system that is subject to the democratic control of the Welsh people and designed to meet our needs and interests is better that a system designed to meet the needs and interests of the Westminster establishment? When we are in control of our own destiny, we can figure out how to shape our country for the better. Only Westminster will rejoice if we separate into Pythonesque factions. (I am reminded of the People’s Liberation Front of Judaea vs. the… Read more »

Capitalist and Welshnash
Guest
Capitalist and Welshnash

Exactly, so we must accept the centre-right will be part any Wales we build in the future and include them.

Silurydd
Guest

Of course, if they can organise themselves in a way that they are not stooges of the Westminster establishment

Dafis
Guest
Dafis

Silurydd While kissing the proverbial Establishment arse is unthinkable, I would be equally concerned about our left wing becoming stooges of the London metropolitan elite cliques who seem to lay down the law frequently on what is approved groupthink and what has fallen out of favour. You only have to look at what’s going on within Labour at present to shudder at the thought of all those schisms being our pattern of political conduct going forward and this stuff is currently being transplanted to Wales particularly the bigger centres with student populations.

Silurydd
Guest

I am with you, Dafis. Don’t want the political agenda in Wales set in Islington or Westminster

Dewi ap Dafydd
Guest
Dewi ap Dafydd

Coalitions haven’t hurt Germany much as far as the economy is concerned. Most of the post WW2 governments have been coalitions of some sort, either SPD (=labour) with the liberals, or the CDU/CSU (=conservatives) with the liberals. Sometimes even SPD and CDU. I do not think this would work for Wales. However, Benjiman does identify a gap in the market: a right of centre Welsh party. I think what Wales needs is proper Welsh brand of conservatism, not of the Westminster type. The current conservatives cuold be an effective opposition, but are held back by the UK party. Plaid are… Read more »