Plaibour – The Party of Wales?

[Tuesday, again]

Oh dear. A mistake or something worse. From this:

Plaid activist calls for merger with Labour
Jun 30 2007

by Martin Shipton, Western Mail

LEFT-WING members of Plaid Cymru are contemplating an eventual merger of their party with Labour in the wake of this week’s historic coalition deal at the National Assembly, we can reveal.

Meanwhile, as some Labour activists see the partnership with Plaid as the beginning of a new socialist alliance, others are likening Plaid’s operations in North Wales to that of the Nazis in 1930s Germany.

There is still a week to go before we can be certain a Labour-Plaid coalition will definitely run Wales. In the meantime, there is much bloodletting in both parties, both behind the scenes and – more rarely – in public.

Three separate documents leaked to the Western Mail yesterday indicate the intensity of debate that is going on about the deal. One is a paper written for Plaid’s women’s section by activist Hayzell David that advocates a merger between Labour and Plaid. The other two are papers written by members of the left- wing Welsh Labour Grassroots group with diametrically opposed views about forming a coalition with Plaid.

Ms David’s paper says that for decades the two popular socialist parties in Wales – Plaid Cymru and the Labour Party – have keenly fought for the same sector of the electorate. “Yet both Plaid strategists and progressive Labour planners realise that the long term aim must be to join forces as a popular socialist movement in a self-governing Wales.

“Political careers and effort are being wasted in inter-party conflict when the ideological enemy – Conservative, Liberal, Ukip, BNP etc – are reaping the rewards. The two majority Welsh parties are not giving best service to Wales if they are intent on mutual destruction. If eventual merger is desirable, and perhaps inevitable, now is the time to start.

“The parties are becoming approximately equal in terms of activists, organisation and [non-union] membership in Wales. The cycle of inter-socialist conflict must be broken. United in effort, the coalition will be the first united socialist front to rule Wales.

“It may be hard for many to bury the hatchet, but the opportunities are well worth it.”

This takes further a posting on his website by Plaid MP – and coalition negotiator – Adam Price, in which he argues that Plaid’s mission has been to push Labour down the path towards Welsh independence.

He says, “The strategy has been electorally and politically successful, gaining Plaid Cymru seats and dragging Labour, however unwillingly, in a nationalist direction.

“The historic Plaid-Lab agreement which is being finalised this week is the latest step in this 25 years strategy. But it is not its final act. The final chapter is yet to be written – we will write it ourselves – but it could involve the emergence of Plaid, as in Scotland, as the largest party of the left and inheritor of the left’s hegemony, or the creation of a genuinely autonomous Labour Party which has finally broken its umbilical ties with the British State. Either outcome would accelerate our progress on the path to political independence.”

Today, members of Welsh Labour Grassroots (WLG) are meeting in Swansea to discuss the coalition deal.

Two activists – Nick Davies and Darren Williams – wrote a paper earlier this month when it seemed a deal involving Labour and Plaid was unlikely. It advocates that the two parties should be in partnership: “The idea of some sort of arrangement with Plaid Cymru is not just a matter of short-term expediency.

“Notwithstanding our differences with the old-style ‘cultural nationalists’ within Plaid, the party’s policies on key issues – from public services to the introduction of full primary powers for the Assembly – are, in many cases, close to those of WLG members.

“There will be no Labour majority government in Cardiff Bay for at least four years, with no guarantee that we will be able to turn the situation around in the 2011 elections. If our main objective is – as it must be – the preservation and extension of a progressive agenda for Wales, rather than simply narrow party advantage, then we should recognise that the best way to further that aim is by promoting collaboration between those parties best able to achieve it.”

Another paper, written by a North Wales Labour activist, disagrees bitterly and says Labour should have nothing to do with Plaid: “Perhaps Plaid Cymru play at appearing left wing in the south, but they are certainly not our natural allies in the North.

“To go into coalition with them would be only marginally better than with the Tories, and it may be hard to tell them apart.

“This is not ‘some of the sectarian old-Labour hostility towards Plaid, yoked together with a New Labour suspicion of the independent course pursued by Rhodri and his allies’, it is a familiarity with Plaid’s viciousness and what they actually do when they have the chance.

“It is Plaid who are leading the transfer of our housing stock, charging college students for travel, hiking council tax.

“They are simply not fit to govern – and that is Plaid’s stated view of Labour. Our fight in Assembly elections is primarily with Plaid, so what do we tell our electors next time? That Plaid are quite similar to us, we’ll work with them in government but, er, vote Labour?!”

The activist goes on to liken Plaid’s operations in North Wales to the Nazis in 1930s Germany, before concluding, “They remain abhorrent to socialists in the North; Plaid are more likely to be accepted by Blairites, who want power no matter what the cost.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Welsh Labour confirmed yesterday that its special conference next Friday to make a final decision on the proposed coalition with Plaid will be held behind closed doors.

To this elucidation from Adam Price:

It might not be quite up there with the Zinoviev letter but “Hayzell David”’s bogus e-mail to the Western Mail’s Martin Shipton was a political hoax timed with perfection to cause maximum damage. Hat tip to Ceredig for yet again proving the power of the blogosphere to trounce traditional media. Sent at four o’clock on a Friday afternoon, giving the Mail’s Chief Reporter the least amount of time to check the story out, it was probably designed to rattle nerves at Plaid’s national executive meeting the next morning. One of the reasons it didn’t work was nobody had ever heard of said Ms David – activists in the Women’s Section are hardly that numerous that you wouldn’t have ever heard of them somewhere along the lines. The name itself, and some of the political language (’united socialist front’ etc.) sounded distinctly suspect.

And, no, there is no Hayzell David on Plaid Cymru’s membership database or any other database for that matter because the whole thing was made up. What is even more curious was the BBC running the story on Good Morning Wales, again without checking the provenance of the story and even suggesting that the fictitious Ms David was part of the circle of Helen Mary Jones. Why, we ask ourselves, because she’s a woman? I think we can expect some pretty hefty apologies in the next couple of days from Wales’ premier news organisations. An apology from Ordovicius, who used the opportunity, to lay bare the ‘hidden agenda’ of the national left in Plaid might be nice, as well, but I won’t hold my breath.

As to the author of this politically-minded prank then one can only speculate. Just as no party has a monopoly on the truth, no party is entirely devoid of the alienated or the plain infantile. It is as likely to have emerged from the hard right of the nationalist movement as from a renegade Labour-Unionist.

Speaking about apologies, the other story that Martin ran was from a couple of papers from the Welsh Labour Grassroots Network that I’m glad to see endorsed the One Wales programme at the weekend. A response to the main paper by Nick Davies and Darren Williams apparently written by a constituency chair from North Wales who wasn’t named in the article said “I am not exaggerating when I say our MP, one of the best we have, says PC in North Wales operates in very much the same was (sic) as the Nazis in Germany during the 1930s. “While the odd reference to Saunders Lewis’ Francoist leanings is still de rigeur among some Labour MPs, being called a Nazi is pretty rare these days. That most Labour activists were themselves appalled by this old-style vicious sectarianism was thankfully reflected in the vote.

Hayzell David? Odd name, don’t you think?

A few minutes’ work with pencil and paper produced “Lazy Devil Had”. Clearly, someone has been well and truly had – so who is the “Lazy Devil”? Surely this couldn’t possibly be a less than complimentary reference to the journalistic diligence of the Western Mail’s Chief Reporter?

Surely not…

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