1960s >> 1968 >> no-770-october-1968
Plaid Cymru is not the answer for Wales
If the results of July’s by-election in Caerphilly and the one last year in the Rhondda are anything to go by, nearly four out of every ten workers in the mining valleys now support Plaid Cymru, which wants a separate state in Wales. Since at the last general election Labour held most of these seats with majorities of up to and over 20.000 this represents a dramatic change of political opinion.
Plaid Cymru fought this election at Caerphilly (where in 1923 stood the first Communist Party candidate) more on Labour’s failure and their own reform programme than on their ultimate aim of a separate slate. With unemployment in Caerphilly at 8 per cent, which on a national scale would mean two million on the dole, they had plenty of discontent to work on. They argue that it is “London government” that causes our problems. The solution, apparently, is Cardiff government. This is nonsense. Our problems are not caused by London government but, as elsewhere, by the class monopoly of the means of production, in short, by capitalism. Their solution lies not in nationalism, which is a delusion and a snare, but in world Socialism.
Sometimes, Plaid members claim their party is the vehicle for “socialism in Wales”. This too is absurd as it is not possible to set up Socialism in one country alone.
Labour’s reaction to this challenge was revealing. They stopped at nothing in their campaign against the “separatists” They dishonestly suggested that Plaid Cymru encouraged bomb outrages and wanted to reserve the best jobs (a matter dear to the heart of every Labour councillor) for those who spoke Welsh. They spoke of “incipient fascism”. They claimed to be against nationalism as it put up barriers between people. One local official said he had nothing against workers in England, Scotland or Ireland (he did not mention anywhere else) and wanted a “socialist Britain.” Fred Evans, the candidate, too wanted, or so he said, “socialist, not separatist, solutions”. The main case against a separate state of some of the Welsh Labour MP’s who spoke was obviously a concern lest their careers in London come to an abrupt end. Michael Foot, who sits for Ebbw Vale, was afraid that a separate Wales and a separate Scotland would leave England with a built-in Tory majority, that is. would leave the Labour politicians in permanent opposition. Yet apparently the Tories have their uses. One Labour leaflet headed “Nationalism Doesn’t Pay” was partly a reprint of an anti-separatist item from the Daily Telegraph.
The Labour Party’s attitude here is just hypocrisy. They are not against violence, but have always supported wars and armed forces. If any party deserves the “fascist” tag surely it is Labour who have done so much to lay the foundations for a corporate state in Britain. Nor are they against nationalism: they are British nationalists. As for putting up barriers, was it not Labour who greatly strengthened the immigration colour bar? A “socialist Britain” is no less ridiculous than a “socialist Wales” and for the same reason.
Since a separate state is in fact no solution to our problems Labour was on stronger ground in dismissing this as irrelevant and in pointing to Eire where, despite an independent government in Dublin, there are the same problems as here such as high unemployment and emigration.
Although it is heartening to see a revival of political activity and argument in the valleys after years of Labour one-party rule, it is a pity that this is taking the form of rejecting one futile party for another, even if it is breaking away from the Tory-Labour Tweedledum-Tweedledee farce.