It’s time to decide, Wales. It’s time to decide if we still have a detectable pulse, or if the beating heart of what was once a distinct Welsh political spirit within the sorry mess we still refer to as the ‘United’ Kingdom, has finally flat-lined.
Are you going to vote on June the 8th? And are you going to make your decision based on the best interests of Wales, or are you going to let yourself believe that your vote will have any bearing at all on the overall outcome?
What’s it going to be?
We can either decide to sit up and demand to speak to the anaesthetist (we were awake all along and we have felt every single damn thing you were doing to us) or we can just quietly slip away, and let them wheel us to the morgue.
Because we have a few ways we can play this. One way I would summarise as ‘everyone for themselves’, and the other, more interesting way, I would suggest, is more along the lines of ‘let’s play this as a team, Wales’.
Because there’s a way we can play this election that will be better for Wales, no matter what the outcome overall. We need to vote tactically, but not the way you think.
Because is it just me, or does nothing about politics in the UK make sense anymore? Apart from the obvious stuff, like a prime minister who is terrified to meet with her electorate, and has no policies just soundbites (I’ve started following the Conservatives on twitter, but it took me a while to work out whether I was following a spoof account… check it out, it’s beyond parody). They are (sorry, she is) Strong. And Stable. Genuinely.
And not just because we are living in a topsy-turvy world where the villains have inherited the adulation of the masses, and the would-be heroes of the show are so busy getting tomatoes pelted at them, we can no longer even hear their lines.
Jeremy Corbyn was interviewed on Radio 4 earlier – he talked sense, of course, but unfortunately it’s too late for that. Old fashioned stuff like common sense, fairness, social justice etc just don’t sell anymore. And in UK Politics PLC, where everything is up for sale, you can have sound, fair, re-distributive policies until they are coming out of your proverbial, but they won’t get you very far (even if you attach them to a Brexit flag in an attempt to make them more visible).
So what are we going to do in Wales? Its a pretty dire position in which to find ourselves. The prospects are bleak for the UK project, which is clearly sliding faster and faster down into a slippery, right-wing abyss. In Wales we appear to be greasing ourselves up to slide on down with the giddy, gleeful Ukippers, dressed more respectfully as they now are of course, in their Tory pearls.
But is it too late, or is there still time to re-assess whether we make the jump?
Ambling around aimlessly as so many people in Wales have been for so long, in the land known as ‘complacent, lifelong labour supporter’, has left us as a country it seems, prone to being easily hoodwinked by anything resembling an idea.
Suddenly, last year, the aimless amongst us stumbled over a dressing up box. It would have gone unnoticed probably, except that it was sitting under a big neon sign saying ‘kick the establishment here’ (the other side of course, said ‘Brexit – screw yourselves over good and proper’).
Inside the dressing-up box were some unseemly costumes, not at all flattering compared to our usual attire, but we have been getting them out and trying them on none-the-less. We have discovered, in some cases, that we had something similar at home, but we’d just never thought it was suitable to wear in public.
And with this new look, comes a new attitude. A change of heart, with a change of clothes. We have tried on the Ukippers’ jaunty flat cap, the cheeky ‘salt of the Earth millionaire’ look, and the kitten-heel with leather trouser look of the Tory fetishist.
Some people, it seems, have looked in the mirror and thought, hm, this is a good look for us.
There are a range of accessories in the box too, which we are busily playing dress-up with. Many of them sparkle but they are all fake. We might think we look all that, but if only we had a mirror, we would see what a dog’s dinner we are really making of this.
Because none of this suits us, and actually, a lot of what’s in this box is bad for us. We’re not behaving very well now that we’ve tarted ourselves up either, we’re being a bit racist and fighting amongst ourselves, if we are honest about it.
And where do we think we are going, with all this fake jewellery on? Who do we think we are kidding with all this bling? At the end of the day, none of what’s in this box is real. We can keep sharing out the cheap feather boas, and laughing because it tickles, but at the end of the day, those feathers are all dropping out.
And, shit. While we were trying this stuff on, someone has run off with all our clothes.
All of our clothes.
Like, everything, even your pants. Because you may have thought they were your pants, like, your underwear, and even though you just wore them everyday, and you didn’t appreciate them because they were just there (they were quite new as well, you had only had them since, you know like 1999) now that they are gone, you kind of miss them.
Maybe you should have changed them once in a while, looking back.
So, shit. What are we going to do?
Don’t worry. I have a proposal.
It’s very simple. It requires us collectively, to just get a grip of ourselves, and vote as a team. Team Wales. Because there are several things we just need to accept.
1.The Tories are going to win the election.
2. They are going to do so with a landslide.
3. This is going to be very, very bad for people in general. How bad will be on a sliding scale, but unless you are a millionaire (quick where’s that jaunty flat cap?) basically a Tory Government for the next 5 years on a massive majority is horrifically bad for anyone who relies on things like wages and public services to get by, rather than say, offshore bonds and the interest on their inheritance.
4. A Tory Government is going to be very, very bad for keeping the powers that Wales has, in Wales.
5. The way we vote in Wales will not influence the overall outcome (it never does).
I really, really wish that none of the above were true. But given that we all know that the above is the case (if you aren’t sure about number 3, then you need to put that feather boa back in the box, and accept that kitten heels don’t suit you, then go and google ‘wage stagnation’, ‘in-work poverty’, ‘the rape clause’, ‘mental health care’ and the ‘Great Repeal Bill’ to name but a few things).
If you are in ill-health, or disabled, or on a low income, or studying, or if you have elderly parents, or children or grandchildren who are in school, and you still want to put that feather boa on, then you need to look in the mirror when you do it.
Look yourself in the eye.
Can you do it? Or do you blink?
Because I think you know, deep down…
So. Given all of these things, we need a plan.
The most plausible approach at this point feels like either running around in a panic, gorging on alt-left news media sites (or alt-right I guess, but if you hang that way you probably aren’t here reading this), and repeatedly checking tactical voting sites and the latest polls to see if you can make any sense of how to vote in ‘the farce generally known as a UK General election’.
If it’s any comfort, this will no doubt be the last one, because once Scotland leaves, it’ll be known as a ‘rUK General Election’. Or an ‘England and Wales General Election’ if Ireland unifies.
Hell, that’s unwieldy, we’ll just call it an ‘English Election’ for short shall we?
Anyway, none of these strategies are the best one, I would suggest.
I would suggest instead that what we need is to elect some MPs, as many as possible ideally, who actually give a shit about Wales.
Now, this has long been the territory of Plaid Cymru, no surprises there. They have been banging this old drum for so long, we’ve practically got bored of hearing about how they are going to stick up for Wales, and the interests of people who live here.
Thing is though, they do.
Jeez, they are just so predictable like that. Change the record already. Showing up for votes on issues that effect Wales. Voting for devolving more powers to Wales when they are offered. Working hard for Wales.
Voting against Article 50 because, you know, it was all based on lies.
Opposing Tory welfare ‘reforms’ and cuts.
It does sound like sticking up for Wales’ interests, I’ll admit, but it’s just so boring.
It would be much more interesting if they spiced things up a bit. Said one thing and then did another. Threw a bit of ant-immigration rhetoric into the mix, just to appeal to, someone, somewhere (probably in Skegness).
Sticking up for Wales is just so Plaid Cymru, no one wants to hear about it.
Although this week, someone else has decided that this story is quite a good one. Good old Carwyn has finally, after 107 years as First Minister, pushed back his chair, and #stoodupforwales.
It’s too late Carwyn. Despite the fact that the UK picture is so dire that even I, momentarily, wanted to give you a hug (just for effort) or at least help you out of your chair when you #stoodupforwales on Monday. Unfortunately Welsh Labour haven’t got a good track record on this.
It doesn’t take more than five minutes on they work for you, to come up with a long list of examples of times when Welsh Labour MPs have not #stoodupforwales. Or, actually, when they have stood up, but then they have also unzipped, and relieved themselves all over Wales and the constituents they are supposed to serve. If we are being completely honest. And you started this standing up analogy, Carwyn.
To be fair, Plaid had already nabbed ‘defending Wales’ (Tarian Cymru, is way cooler). While Carwyn is still getting to his feet (it takes a while when you haven’t exercised in this long, the joints are achy, and you are easily distracted brushing the crumbs from your lap) Plaid are off. They are in battle, they’ve been there all along.
There are only three of them, at the moment, but they are plucky. And I know who I would rather if it came down to it in a showdown between Theresa May and Wales, Voldemort style. Who do you want, Liz Saville Roberts, Jonathan Edwards and Hywel Williams (think passion, articulate conviction and showing up) or Stephen Kinnock, Christina Rees (who?) and Chris Bryant (think, um, not actually there).
Apparently, when Liz Saville Roberts speaks in Parliament, a hush descends and people listen.
Which is not common, in the Commons.
Would you like people to listen to Wales?
So. My proposal is that we think about this from a Wales angle. Rather than a UK angle. And from this angle, from this side of Offa’s Dyke, there is only one sensible way to vote.
There’s only one way to make sure of two things:
- That anyone ever notices us again, ever. Because if we roll over and vote like England (i.e. getting our knickers in a knot, listening to the mainstream media and believing that there are only really two options – HA DID WE SAY TWO?!! One of them is an idiot…. Left wingers are unelectable…. Vote Tory… Mmm, you look just exquisite in those pearls darling).
- When we are headed for hell in a handcart, under a Tory UK Government, we have people in Westminster, with an honest heart and a genuine passion for Wales and a desire to see the best done for those who live here.
Because as much as I do actually want to hug Carwyn Jones this week (despite all the times I have compared him to various forms of rice-based puddings, I do think he has good intentions, deep down) unfortunately he’s not the boss.
He may have done a very good job of not mentioning you know who this week, but when it comes to Westminster, we aren’t voting for Carwyn. I genuinely appreciate Welsh Labour’s efforts to make this about Wales, it makes a change, but there are two major holes in their plan.
The first, is that despite the parlous state of the media in Wales, some of us here have actually noticed that things like health, education and housing are devolved. So when you make promises like ‘no grammar schools in Wales’ in the context of a General Election, that’s just an itsy bit patronising to your electorate.
Don’t you think?
I know that Mayhem and Jezzer don’t know what’s devolved (they make this embarassingly clear every time they visit Wales). Theresa May was at it again this week talking about plans for education in EnglandandWales, poorly briefed, or Freudian slip?
But I think (hope) that you have a better handle on the ins and outs of devolution at this stage Carwyn.
So, cut it out, please? I think you can do better than promising that Labour in Westminster will do things that Labour in Wales already have the power to do. Or are you proposing that we give devolved powers back to Westminster? Because at best, your election launch is confusing, and at worst it’s down-right disingenous.
Sort it out.
The second fly in the ointment with this approach is that Labour MPs from Wales do not answer to Carwyn. He is not the boss of them. He may have Wales’ best interests at heart (if we believe that from deep down under the duvet, he is trying to do the best for Wales) but the evidence suggests that Welsh Labour MPs do not share that aim. They serve their UK masters. They have proved that with every time they have failed to show up for debates about Wales. Every time they abstained on votes to devolve more powers to Wales. Every time they have voted with the Tory Government on policies that will hurt people in Wales, or damage our public services by supporting the politics of austerity, taken us into illegal wars (looking at you, Anne Clwyd, Chris Bryant and David Hanson) or given away our money to pay for Nuclear weapons we will never use.
It’s too late to stand up now, Labour.
You had your chance to stand up for Wales, and you chose not to, so we are going to vote instead for those who have a track record of defending Wales.
So. Let’s think like we want to win. Let’s play this one like a team. Hell, if for no reason other than it will be the only way to make sure that Wales is ever mentioned, ever, ever again.
If you want to make sure that your vote counts for something, vote for the only party that doesn’t answer to UK masters, and that consistently show up and vote in our interest, rather than their own. Do this wherever you are in Wales, but especially if you are somewhere that you quite like, with people that you care about and public services that you would like to keep.
If you live in a country called Wales, rather than EnglandandWales, and you’d quite like to keep it that way, it’s time to vote as a team.
#voteplaid, #defendwales, #tariancymru