A few events in recent weeks have given me cause to re-evaluate my priorities. The events have been a combination of personal and political ones. The priorities have also been my personal and political ones.
One of the consequences of all this has been to come to the conclusion that my ecosocialist objectives would be better served by not just me withdrawing from true Euro election, but possibly Wales Green Party withdrawing completely as well.
There are two principle reasons for me coming to this rather drastic conclusion.
Firstly, GPEW MEPs sit with the Greens/EFA group in Brussels – as do Plaid Cymru. I define myself, first and foremost, as an ecosocialist and I have to tell you that I recognise far more true and radical ecosocialists in Plaid Cymru than in Wales Green Party. If it were not that I abhor nationalism and, personally, have no time for the Welsh language, I might consider joining them. It is a fact that they have an infinitely greater chance of retaining their current MEP, and indeed have a better chance of adding a second, than Wales Green Party has of getting even a sniff of a seat . I therefore recognise that, on this occasion at least, our ecosocialist goals and objectives could be better served by endorsing Plaid Cymru than getting in their way. It would also be gesture that could usher in a Welsh Ecosocialist Alliance with Plaid Cymru that should benefit both parties in the longer term.
This brings me to my second reason.
I have given a lot of thought to re-engaging with Wales Green Party recently and have even been seriously considering bidding to take or share the leadership of WGP. Many people have urged me to go down this road, such as most of those that voted me to number one on the Euro list, and many people in GPEW outside of Wales .. Many think that Wales should have no special privileges within GPEW, or else it should become completely autonomous like the Green Parties in Scotland and Northern Ireland. I would much rather the former than the latter. ..
When push came to shove, I realised .. that it is actually beyond me, at present at least – and probably beyond anyone else at this time to make WGP a force in Wales.
So what is the way forward?
First and foremost, we need the few activists we have to focus on their local parties. Too many are neglecting to do this .. We need to have properly run, active/vibrant, campaigning local parties – properly engaging the target-to-win strategy on carefully selected target wards – if we .. want to excite and entice people to join us.
Until we start winning Council seats we should abandon thoughts of wasting resources on contesting elections for MPs, AMs and, certainly, MEPs. ..
We need to build ecosocialist alliances at every opportunity – through getting involved with our local PAAA and getting involved in cross-party campaigns like those against the Bedroom Tax and anti-fracking direct action. These are often far more successful ways of achieving our objectives than electoral party politics.
Wales Green Party should refocus itself .. It needs spokespeople that can cover key issues authoritatively. It needs a treasurer who feeds all regional party income through to local parties that are functioning properly. .. It does not need much else.
Personally, I have worked hard to establish Bridgend Green Party as a respected player in the Bridgend County political scene. I think it would probably sustain itself without me now, but it still has a long way to go before it can say it has achieved anything worthwhile. While I remain in the GPEW, this will be my focus. It would be counter-productive for me to get involved in .. the current WGP.
I would urge everybody involved with WGP to re-evaluate their priorities – to paraphrase David Steele, go back to your constituencies and prepare, if not for power, to achieve something meaningful. In the long run this will be a more assured route to wider success ..
Time for you to draw your own conclusions and work out your way forward.
 Plaid Cymru currently has about 8000 members, to WGP’s 400 or so. It has 3 MPs to GPEW’s one. It has 206 councillors in Wales, compared to WGP’s zero and GPEW’s 139 in the whole of England and Wales.
Have to agree with just about everything that you say Andy.
I was having a real crisis of conscience about the Euro elections while you were the WGP lead candidate because of my personal respect for both you and Jill Evans (Plaid MEP). You have now resolved that particular issue, for which many thanks!
I too abhor nationalism, but I don’t see Plaid as necessarily nationalist in the generally accepted sense of the word. For me the desire for greater (though perhaps not complete) independence for Wales (and Scotland, and the English Regions) is more about allowing people to take more responsibility for their own lives, so loosening the grip of multi-national corporations; and allowing people to have more of an influence over political decision making, so loosening the grip of the big party machines.
I’m so glad that I can now give my wholehearted support to Plaid in the Euro Elections without risking loosing a friend, and look forward to discussing with you further about how Plaid and the Greens can work together in the future.
Thank you for this Keith. You were very much my mentor when I first joined the Green Party and started toi get involved in Swansea. You were also the ‘go to’ person whenever I needed advice or guidance running Bridgend Green Party. Wales Green Party offered me nothing. I will always be indebted to you, and our friendship, I hope, is now irrespective of party allegiances.
For the time being at least, I will remain a Green Party member and still feel loyal to my local Party. Locally at least, I believe we are regarded as valued ecosocilaist allies by the local Plaid people. At the end of the day, it is all about working out the the best route and/or strategy to achieve the changes we want to see in the world around us. It is with regards to the bigger picture that Plaid offers more limited opportunities. But at a Wales level, it really is no contest at the present time.
Can I endorse what has been said above about nationalism, which is a word associated in many minds with hatred and often prefaced by “narrow-minded”. I think the evidence on the ground is that Plaid’s civic nationalism, i.e. an inclusive and progressive mindset that is a world away from the exclusive and xenophobic nationalism of, say, the EDL and UKIP, would mean you would feel very much at home. I know Greens and Plaid activists are working together against the bedroom tax for example and in the people’s Assemblies throughout Wales. I hope this can continue. I also hope your endorsement of Plaid’s European campaign will see increased representation in Europe for eco-socialists, not least because I am number 2 on the Plaid list!
Thank you for your contribution, Marc. I sincerely hope that my actions may yield you the success in the Euro election that I was never going to achieve. Two Green/EFA members from Wales would be a huge step in the right direction.
I have had a lot of discussions re the nature of PC’s nationalism recently. I think you would have to concede that there have been some more extreme nationalists in PC’s ranks at times and I know that there are a few ‘dinosaurs’ still hanging around. Since Leanne’s accession to the leadership, however, I have certainly perceived that the Party is far more as you and Keith describe it, such that in recent times, and for the first time in the 22 years I have lived here, I no longer feel that it would be inconceivable for me to not only join, but be welcomed into PC – by the majority, if far from all. It will not happen any time soon, but I never say never!
Good luck in May, Marc.
Thanks very much for that. There’s no doubt that the thousands who have, in the past, voted Green or socialist without any hope of gaining a radical European voice could do so by voting in Jill and myself. I’m currently active in the local anti-fracking campaign up here in Wrexham as well as a host of other progressive, anti-cuts campaigns and work with a local cooperative pub we’ve re-opened. I’m certain you and other greens and socialists would find a very warm welcome in Plaid.
Fracking is very much my specialist subject, habing something of a geology background. You will find plenty on this blog on the subject – please help yourself: https://bridgendgreens.wordpress.com/?s=frack
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In response to Andy’s decision to withdraw from participation in the Euro elections
and in response to the explanation he has submitted above —
I agree with some of what Andy has had to say, but profoundly disagree with some other points he has made in his analysis of the current political situation in
Wales, particularly regarding the possibility of WGP engaging in some meaningful way with Plaid.
Some utterly unacceptable features of Plaid’s policies seem to have been completely overlooked. I am not here referring to “nationalism” as such, as I
regard myself as a ‘nationalist’ ; I’m referring to other matters which I would rather not go into right now.
There was also an oblique reference to the Welsh language. I am wondering
what Andy means when he says he “has no time for the Welsh language.” As he
has come to settle in Wales from England we would not expect him to immediately
embrace the language, but we would expect him, or anyone in his position, to at
least respect it as a medium of discourse among Welsh people, and as a feature
of Welsh culture.
I for one would welcome the opportunity to discuss these issues with Andy some
time,preferably along with other members of the party (and possibly one or two
individuals no longer in the party). Obviously this would have to wait until Andy
is in a position to again engage in political debate, whenever that might be.
Thank you for your contribution Tony. I would be quite happy to sit down with you and others to discuss these issues. It is something that needs to happen.
I wish to focus on the areas of consensus with others, rather than the areas where we differ. The tribal nature of politics in this country is a major factor in holding back progress and dis-engaging the wider public. I am discovering a real appetite amongst Plaid Cymru supporters to work closer with us, far more so than I expected, and we would be utterly foolish not to build on this.
As for my insensitive comments about the Welsh language, it is probably best if I just shut up. It is in danger of hopelessly distracting us from the real task of achieving greater social and environmental justice.
I must admit that I find the tone of the article very unpleasant and representative of the views of very many anti Welsh bigots from England who move to Wales intent on stamping out its language, culture and sense of identity by which ever means possible. Yes, I think that Plaid Cymru would indeed be incompatible bed partners with such a narrow minded party and should run a mile if it wants to fight for a prosperous future for Wales.
I moved to Wales expecting to have to embrace the language to get by and get on. The fact that has not proven the case is indicative of cultural imperialism in the past, I will grant you. But working from where we are today, I think you might have a hard sell persuading the Welsh public that a prosperous future for Wales relies on trying to reverse that. I have two Welsh sons and we all share that special tingle down the back of the neck when Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau is sung by 70,000 peole in the Milennium Stadium before a rugby international. I would suggest that it is your own narrow-minded, anti-immigrant attitudes that will make working together towards out shared ecosocialist objectives that little bit harder. I apologise unreservedly for the the obvious offence one or two words have caused. I have learned an important lesson to take forward. I intend to spend the rest of my days here in Wales among the people and land that I love. I intend to continue fighting alongside many friends in Plaid Cymru towards overcoming the Westminster focussed neoliberal parties that will forever hold the people of Wales back from schieving the prosperity and society that they deserve. In due course I do envisage that meaning full independence for Wales, and in my lifetime. I hope to be able to play a part in achieving all this.
pwy yw yr dafydd hon ac beth dwedodd e I pwy pryd ac pam? or who is this dafydd and what did he say to whom when and why? Vicky Moller 01239 820971 / 07791809810
I consider myself Green and do all I can to help the enviroment – I believe that global warming is the world’s no 1 priority. But I found your language comment rude and ignorant. You said that you had no time for it. By implication- you have no time for Welsh speakers and learners. What if a politician has said he had no time for Polish, Hebrew, Arab he’d be called a racist. Language isn’t something abstract, Welsh is the medium of my daily life with my wife, children and friends. Its a huge shame because I was warming to vote & support the Welsh Green party but such attitudes will only turn people off.
I never meant to cause offence, but should have realised that that choice of words might well do so. So I apologise for that.
I completely refute your nonsensical implication that ‘not having time for a language’ makes you racist! Welsh may well be your language of choice at home. That is great. Enjoy. It doesn’t alter the fact that I have lived her for 23 years and not once felt inconvenienced by not being able to speak Welsh, nor the fact that you are far more likely to hear Polish than Welsh on the streets of Wales today. How good is your Polish, Meic? Or are you a racist too? Na zdrowie.
P.S. If issues of language are the extent of your political engagement, then there really is only one Party for you I guess.
But how many native Welsh speakers have you inconvenienced in your 23 years here in Wales by denying them the right to live their lives through the medium of their language? Cymraeg is our National language and should be encouraged for all, and not just at home! It does matter, and not just here in Wales, the world is full of eco and social diversity, embrace it!
“I have no time for the Welsh language” is a very racist comment. A language is an integral part of people’s lives – just like a person’s skin colour or religion. My children did not choose to be bilingual (or trilingual as it happens). Why have you got no time for them, merely because they speak Welsh?
Good grief. What is it about this issue that prickles people so much. I am being elevated to ‘very racist’ now. I expect I will be a fascist next and a Nazi by the end of the evening. It matters not to me whether your children are bi/tri/multi lingual; bi/tri/multi sexual; bi/tri/multi cultural or whatever. I have time for everybody that has an interest in a sustainable future for everyone. Of course someones choice of language, sexual preference, cultural tastes are all important parts of their lives; my life as well.
I regret my choice of words, and have apologised for giving offence. But please keep some perspective here.
I have lived here a very long time. I am married to a Welsh woman. My sons have been born and bred here. Nearly all my close friends are Welsh. All my colleagues are Welsh. Off the top of my head, the number of fluent Welsh speakers I could name is in single figures. I guess it would be nice to know a bit of Welsh, but quite simply, I can always find more useful things to do. If I was to learn other languages, Welsh would not make the top 3, I am afraid. This is what I meant by ‘having no time for Welsh’. This is not my fault.
Language is a tool of communication, first and foremost (but admittedly, not exclusively), and Welsh is tool I can happily live without. Tools are prone to evolve and come in and out of use. The same is true of languages. Modern day English/Welsh/whatever is very different to its medieval equivalent (try reading Chaucer). Many thousands of languages around the globe have died out throughout history. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extinct_language). Look at the list of languages that have died out recently. The world may be that bit less diverse as a result, but truly, how many people have been truly impoverished by these transitions as people change their communication tools.
I happen to think a world without language barriers; where everybody could readily communicate with each other all the time; would be a generally more harmonious world. Imagine.
Diolch byth bod yr ymgeisydd hon wedi penderfynu sefyll lawr o’i ymgais i geisio cynrhychioli pobl Cymru yn Senedd Ewrop. Mae ganddo sawl barn amheus ac mae angen cefnogaeth arno i ddeall gweithredoeth Cymru mewn cyd-destyn ehangach!!!!!! Trist iawn……
Trist iawn yn wir. Mae llawer mwy pwysig o bethau i siarad am hynny effaith pawb yng Nghymru. But I would prefer to discuss those in English so that everybody can join in.
“and have no time for the Welsh language”
As an english incomer from Northamptonshire to Wales/Cymru, I was considering voting Green but not with that narrow minded attitude.
Where is the love of cultural variety?
English is a language that dominates due to violence and coercion over hundreds of years, it is in a very very healthy state and we should embrace language learning for brain health benefits
Can you not see that from basic history and science books
.Im sorry…..You just lost a voter if thats your stance.
. I will remain an eco-socialist at heart though
Here we go again …..
You call me narrow minded, and yet you claim your vote can be influenced by one persons’ (my) attitude to a peripheral issue. Please vote according to a bigger picture than this!!! Perhaps you will follow me and vote Plaid Cymru in the Euros – as this is the best option for ecosocialsists in Wales on this occasion.
I trust your Welsh lessons have been enjoyable and that you are finding daily opportunities to to practice in your everyday life.
In hindsight, I respect your opinion and I apologise for being so reactionary in my comment, I am just frustrated at seeing the demise of variety in the world whether it is species bio-diversity or languages (I know both are likely to suffer heavy loses – some think as long as we preserve the genes of species and the writings of languages…..at least they arent extinct forever and we retain diversity in that respect!).
I am someone who would now vote Green in England and I am thinking about Plaid Cymru now although I wish they would be clearer on whether they support sustainable CAP reform for the environment….or are they in the pockets of big farming
I am teaching myself Welsh and enjoying it thanks. Its a hard task using it in far east wales though but aslong as someone else is enjoying it I will persist – Without that language we wouldnt have words like britain or briton which i find quite ironic with all these reactionary parties like Britain First and UKIP corrupting everything including their nonsense about purity vs immigrants bulls*** ha.
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great to see this convo, and thanks Andy for being so principled and open. Sorry about the distraction into a Welsh language argument, valid points made but don’t need so much repetition, point well made and well received by Andy at the start.
I am a plaid green, and really enjoy being in a party which has such breadth and honesty. There is lots of disagreement, Plaid is a bit representative of Wales, therefore diverse, but people can disagree without falling out. Greens and Plaid have fault lines but the importance of working together is huge, at this stage.
I put out the email urging people to vote for Jill Evans Plaid in this election not to lose our membership or the Greens /EFA in Europe. Jill is vice principle there and a great contact if you are campaigning to get something to change. She is tirelessly hard working, Marc the next in line if we got enough votes is another passionate green plaid person who is known for the allotments and community owned pub he set up in Wrexham. It just would not feel good for Jill to lose by the votes that go to the Green Party, really self-defeating. Spread this message to contacts if you agree. Check Jills website and the Greens/EFA site to see how much they do and achieve. jillevans.net
If / when Plaid is main party in Wales then the green party will come into its own, and be much needed I think. Plaid, being diverse has views that Green party would disagree with, but should be judged on its achievements, there were many during the brief period it was in coalition with Labour, supporting Jane Davidson in getting low impact housing policy, first in developed world, policy for traditional farming families, a commitment to decarbonise, that was a hard fought battle, the amazing Foundation phase in Welsh schools which has transformed the experience for teachers and children.. Cynog a Plaid MP got Wales to be founded on commitment to sustainable development, got the road traffic reduction bill thru parliament, Jill Evans group the Greens /EFA has a long record of environmental achievement, hard fought. Don’t want to bore you. There are things you would not like that Plaid has supported too, but the positives should, if we are honest, massively outweigh the grounds for criticism.
Anyone wanting to get stuff to happen should join Plaid, they would definitely be welcome, and should support the Welsh language too! There is a Plaid green group, a sub section with some dynamo green activists in it, but more work to do always, join and make the difference. Vicky 01239 820971 or Vicky (at) ecocymru (dot) org