Saturday, June 10, 2017

The Strange Death of Welsh Liberalism

Sad, but inevitable. There has been disquiet amongst Liberals* outside of Cardiff Central how there was a lack of interest in campaigning outside of Cardiff Central, whether in local, Assembly and Westminster elections. Look at the the 2012 elections in Cardiff, they lost seats whether which they held for almost a generation in one case, and others they won in 2004 when they through out the Goodway administration there was a total lack of interest in winning them back, a former cllr was stuffing envelopes for Cardiff Central to help get Rodney Berman back on the council, whilst the paper candidates in her own ward got double digit votes and was behind even Tories in a working class area!  What message did on send to the electorate in that ward. When I challenged this lack of interest, I was told that Cardiff West is Plaid country now, and Neil McEvoy who used a bastardised form of community politics that was devised by the Liberals in the 1970s, it was his area. Now correct me if I'm wrong but Plaid is not a Liberal party, and Neil is not or ever has been a Liberal. Looking at that, why should we be surprised that Liberalism in Wales has come to an end, what does it stand for?

I joined the Liberal Party in 1982, because I believed in the Liberal values of liberty, free speech, and community, real values, I did not join the SDP, because I did not believe in social democracy, though honestly the Cardiff West Liberal association was practically non existent and the SDP was stronger, consisting in the main former Labour Party members (some of which returned to the Labour home after Blair) and people who were new to politics. We worked hard in our ward, without the personal attacks that seem to characterise much of what happens in Cardiff West these days. It was a poor record we were after, and promoting Alliance values (not necessarily Liberal values ).

After a lengthy sojourn in the New World I came back and have been living in Boverton since 2013. I was impressed by the work of the Llantwit First Independents (which I joined) in Llantwit Major, we worked in coalition with Labour in 2012 and got things done, new schools, a refurbished library.  There are other former Liberal Democrats in Llantwit who were disillusioned with the lack of interest in in the Vale and left and joined the Llantwit First Independents, we still have our Liberal values which are better implemented out side of the Liberal Democrat institution. I was stood for the town council and got 372 votes and was 15 short of getting electing, a friend asked why I did not stand as a Liberal Democrat,  I told them  I had resigned as a member years ago after I stood in Ely as a Liberal Democrat in 2004, when I won the highest vote that Liberal Democrat for many years (543)  there, but Cardiff Central were not interested in Ely, and made it evidently so.

The same thing happened in the last Assembly election when my friend Denis Campbell stood in the Vale (initially they asked him to stand for Cardiff West, for some bizarre reason), Denis walked his shoes off during the campaign put his own money into the election with absolutely no support from party headquarters,and I'm quite sure the same for hundreds of candidates across Wales. No interest in growing outside of Cardiff Central.

My final point is either the Welsh Liberals wake up, make a concerted effort to revive the Liberalism in Wales by showing what it stands for besides Europe, which is belief in Liberty, and community. There seems to be a movement within Plaid Cymru to move into that radical ground that use to be the preserve of Welsh Liberalism. I think this will not work because at the end of the day there is a vast difference between nationalism (even of the reasonable variety that is Plaid Cymru) and Liberalism which broader and international and has solid core values.

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