Reply to Ed George

D OC donaloc at hotmail.com
Wed Jul 9 04:20:25 MDT 2003


Ed, a chara,

As you might expect I share a great interest in Welsh politics and doff my
cap to your immensely superior knowledge of that field. However, I have a
number of questions relating to your article in Tribangoch. Before I go into
them, I just want to point out that there is definitely a rising awareness
by some significant Republicans of the need to link up much more effectively
with radical and nationalist elements in both Scotland and Wales to ensure
that our advances locally are not confined to our shores but have a deeper
(and long term important) significance for the British state as a whole.

Anyway, my questions:

You say...
>Effectively, Plaid finds itself at an historical cross-roads, for the
>choice now is that it can either fight to win back its rural conservative
>base, now defecting to the Tories, or it can move forward to be a real
>party of all Wales.

This seems slightly off-kilter to me. For one, I think many on the left have
totally misunderestimated the acute difficulties being experienced by the
average rural dweller in Europe. England and Wales have suffered a pretty
much unparalleled de-agriculturalisation (a new word). That has been
replicated to a lesser extent here in Ireland (both North and South) and
will be across the EU over the next 10 years. There is, therefore, a real
opening for those on the left to radicalise the rural vote through making
the very convincing argument that free market economics will simply lead to
further urbanisation, eradication of the (largely indigenous) rural culture
(through depopulation) and environmental degradation (through the
haemorrhaging of farmers who are key to the maintenance of the land). The
potential for a cultural-radical party like Plaid Cymru is obvious. I really
feel that this urban-rural choice dichotomy is a bit too simplistic and
smacks of cretinist ortho-Trot formulations e.g. choose between the working
class vs the peasantry. Okay, we'll agree that we'll never get the big
farmers (who are actually benefiting through the process of conglomeration)
but you should quite easily get small holders and the increasing numbers of
artistic-types who choose to live in the Countryside in Cymraeg-speaking
areas. The failure to recognise this fact and to be able to couple it with
issues of national identity and self-determination is precisely the reason
that the SPI (Irish Socialist Party) will remain constricted to a support
base consisting of a fraction of the working class in Dublin. Having read
your piece again, perhaps I have misinterpreted, at least I've said my
piece.

The second question is more in terms of asking your expert opinion, the
paper carried an article on this new independent 'socialist' party which
seems to have a sizable support-base in the North. The AM makes the claim
that there is room for a Socialist as well as a Nationalist party looking at
the example of Scotland, but to my knowledge Plaid Cymru is more left wing
than the SNP - there will be a greater potential of tramping on each others'
toes. So what will the effect of this party be? Do you consider it to be a
good or a bad thing? I guess it all depends on how Plaid comes out of this
election.

People I know here who are close to both Plaid Cymru and the SNP seem to
think that the party has not thought out its alternative to new-Labour -
after all, it is very hard to go against neoliberalism in a globalised
society without immediately having to face similar isolation to Cuba. All
the same, its very easy to make social-democratic type arguments which would
have a great appeal.

I could go on about this, but I am convinced that within 2 years the
credible left across Europe will have a template for a popular and yet
radical alternative to the consensus of today. It will then be a matter of
linking up across the EU to promote it.

Is mise
Domhnall

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