Reply to Ed George

Ed George edgeorge at
Wed Jul 9 05:54:17 MDT 2003

Some quick comments in relation to Dohmnall's questions - I don't have
time to say more than this at the moment.

The Triban Coch artivcle is a much shorter version of a piece posted to
marxmail: for the longer version, see
Here I go into some of these issues in more detail.

Spcific points:

1. My comments on Plaid's rural base are not an 'anti-ruralism', for I
recognise your general points on the plight of rural populations on a
European basis, but a recognition that Plaid's northern rural base is
precisely a conservative big farmer base and not principally (and it is
precisely here that one can see why Wales is not Ireland) composed of
the urban poor: it is these people who are upping and offing to the
Tories, it seems, and it is precisely these people who would naturally
vote Tory anyway if they didn't live in north Wales and speak Welsh in
the first place. This is in fact one of the central contradictions in
Plaid: it has always been its conservative (big farmer) rural base that
pulled it to the right, and its working class base - traditionally very
small but now, I argue, augmenting, that pulled it to the left. This is
'historical cross-roads' I refer to.

2. What seems to be happening is that the artistic types are at the
moment shifting to the Greens (it's what I call, a little
disrespectfully, the 'hippy vote') - at least for me, it is this that
explains the pattern of the Green vote in the election.

3. As for a new Welsh socialist party, I think it's a no-no -
unfortunately so, but that's how it is. The 'Marek phenomenon' is a
local issue, and nothing more, I fear. The problem is that Wales is not
Scotland. From the extended version of the article (as referenced

' [...] despite the attention paid to Marek by sections of the left,
this in no way represents a kind of Welsh mini-SSP. What lies behind the
Marek vote is popular discontent at the shabby way that a respected and
honest sitting representative has been treated by his party. Marek is
essentially a maverick, not afraid to speak his mind and principled
enough not to put currying favour over saying what he thinks. This was
at the root of his downfall within the Labour Party, and it is this that
the voters of Wrexham have responded to. That it is not a generalised
phenomenon is indicated by the huge difference between, on the one hand,
the constituency votes in Wrexham and Clwyd South, and, on the other, by
the difference between the percentage of votes cast of these
constituency votes and the Marek party list vote. This is a purely local
issue, which, barring unforeseen circumstances, will quickly fade. That
Marek now appears to be in contact with the SSP means very little: he
really has no-one else to talk to these days. That he does not appear to
be in contact with the Welsh Socialist Alliance speaks volumes.


'[...] it is clear that there is still no real political space in Wales
to the left of Labour and Plaid. Here it is necessary to address the
long term process underway [...] that underlies all these developments.
Since the 1970s, the unitary political system in the British state has
been progressively breaking down, especially in relation to working
class politics. The consequence today is that in England, especially in
metropolitan England, there is no significant political space existing
outside of and to the left of the organisational and political confines
of Labourism. The consistently truly miserable performances of both the
SLP and the Socialist Alliance illustrate this. There is no pleasure to
be taken in pointing this out: it would be far better were it not true.
But it is a fact, and no amount of wishful thinking can make it

'Scotland is clearly different. The concrete features of the development
of Scottish nationalism, which in recent times gave rise to
qualitatively more developed radicalisation in Scottish working class
politics, most recently in the shape of the anti-poll tax movement in
the 1990s (greatly more inclusive and politically developed than in
England and Wales), have resulted in the appearance of a genuine
large-scale radical current that is beginning to break from the dominant
current of British working class politics, Labourism: a current that
today manifests itself in support for the SSP.

'But [...] in Wales what we can discern is a long-term small but
significant shift in political allegiance from Labour to Plaid, a shift
that the results of 1 May only confirm, once one looks behind the

'[...] That the English Socialist Alliance cannot become another SSP
because England is not Scotland is a point rammed home with every
election. That neither the Welsh Socialist Alliance nor John Marek can
become another SSP because Wales is not Scotland either has also been
made absolutely clear. The real conclusion of the preceding analysis
therefore is that a British political outlook which does not recognise
that England is not Scotland and Wales is not England is going to put
itself in a position of being signally ill-prepared to address the real
political developments taking place within the British state working
class movement. What works in one part of the British state is becoming
increasingly unsuited for the others.'


More comments always welcome!

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