Adam Price’s Blog

The Blog of Adam Price AS/MP, Carmarthen East and Dinefwr

Adam Price MP / AS - Carmarthen East and Dinefwr

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16th September 2009

A lot of fizzle, all of it fake


My recent Conference speech has inspired some interesting responses.  One of the best has been from Jeff Jones the former Labour leader from Bridgend who argues in the comments sections on other politicians’ web-sites (has Jeff got his own blog – he certainly should get one) that both my account of Conservative political history and contemporary Welsh society are over-simplifications.  As is typical of Jeff – whois no mean historian himself – the points are thoughtful and well-made.  I would say in my defence that the Conservatives did oppose the First Reform Act and a majority continued to oppose universal and women’s suffrage for most of the time and certainly long after they had been adopted as policy by the Labour Party.  As to the charge that I tend to see the Welsh political landscape in distinctively Welsh tones (and with a left-ish tinge) and ignore the influence of wider British political trends I understand the point but I suppose it’s hardly surprising that I as a Plaid member would want to highlight the points of difference and keep the flame of Welsh radicalism burning brightly.  In empirical terms all the values surveys do still consistently show that centre of gravity of the Welsh electorate as centre-left while England is centre-right.  This is not surprising given Wales’ socio-economic make-up.

A less considered response comes from the present Assembly Member for Bridgend and leadership contender, Carwyn Jones who accuses me, rather curiously, of being “a lot of sizzle, but no steak”.  Carwyn’s great achilles’ heel, of course, is his reputation within Welsh Labour as something of a crypto-nat.  He never tires of pointing out to people that he was never actually a member of Plaid – he merely went along to one of our meetings in Pantycelyn once, heard Phil Williams speak and decided there and then that he wasn’t a Welsh nationalist after all.  Even this is not enough to placate the suspicion of many of the more tribalist of his comrades who were suckled on nat-bashing at birth.  Why did he go to the meeting in the first place, they ask,  muttering darkly…

So it’s not surprising that Carwyn should choose any and every opportunity to have a go at Plaid…we can expect a lot of this from him over the next few months as Carwyn tries to ‘decontaminate’ his personal brand and show that he does hate Plaid as much as the next Labour member after all.  By the same token, and in the opposite direction, Huw Saunders Lewis will discover a new-found fondness for the work of Gwyn Alf  and Raymond Williams.  Confused? You will be…

Where I take issue with Carwyn’s ‘analysis’ of my speech is his charge of inconsistency.  Apparently my speech is a “u-turn” as a year ago in an interview with GMTV I had said that there was no veto on talking to the Conservatives.  It’s always a shame to spike a political attack but this is what I’ve always said and what I would say now:  As a party of the Left,  in situations where there is no overall majority – in Westminster or the Bay – Plaid’s natural inclination is to form a coalition with other parties of the Left.  We cannot, of course, reject the possibility of agreements with other parties, including the Conservatives, where the negotiated outcome is in the interests of Wales.  In 2007 I was made the party’s chief negotiator for the Rainbow Alliance - though my clearly expressed preference was for a deal with Labour.  When the Rainbow Alliance collapsed, and after an unstable minority Labour administration had been formed,  I was the first politician in Wales to float the prospect of a red-green coalition – on this blog.   I think my record on these matters is pretty clear. I was saying the same thing – with almost the same title - four years earlier. 

More to the point, I have always said what I have to say on these matters on the record – which is more than I can say for some Welsh politicians.   Rolling out that tired slogan – Vote Plaid, Get Tory – as Carwyn does, reminds me that this was the cornerstone of Labour’s Assembly election campaign until it was comprehensively derailed  by a Senior Labour source who confirmed to the media – as Richard Wyn Jones had earlier revealed in an article in Barn – that, despite protestations to the contrary, the Labour Party were considering a ‘ confused dalliance’ – to use Carwyn’s phrase - with their sworn enemies, Plaid (hands up, who remembers the New Zealand model?).  The other leadership contender Huw Lewis, at the time, felt the briefing had betrayed Labour activists.  Reading between the lines, he seemed to be suggesting the ’senior Labour source’ was none other than Carwyn Jones. 

Whether that’s true or not I think the moral of the story is this: stop the Plaid-bashing, Carwyn.  We know you love us really.

Update:  Carwyn Jones’ campaign manager Leighton Andrews has responded with another attack on me this time accusing me of “extreme narcissism”.  Presumably this is because I can prove I’ve been consistent where Leighton ‘flipped and flopped’ – to use Carwyn’s choice words – from being the Liberal Party’s arch-critic of Labourism to its arch-defender in the Rhondda when a Valleys’  Assembly seat came on offer.  He is also curiously silent on the ‘central charge’ now being made that Carwyn scuppered Labour’s 2007 election campaign.  Rather than pouring oil on the flames by launching personal attacks on me I would advise him to use his considerable PR skills to make this story go away.  Otherwise Carwyn’s campaign could be over before it’s begun.

2 Responses to “A lot of fizzle, all of it fake”

  1. Tory free Wales says:
    September 16th, 2009 at 9:44 pm

    It just doesn’t stack up Adam. If you genuinely hold the view of the Tories set out in your conference speech, how can you as a Welsh Socialist argue that helping the Tories into Welsh Ministerial positions is ‘in the interests of the people of Wales’? In Plaid’s party interests maybe, the interests of Welsh working people never. Statistically the Tories can only ever get their hands on public services if Plaid choose to make it possible. Do you really think you could credibly continue to claim to be a socialist party if you did that? What would the Plaid script be in the Valleys of Wales after such a betrayal?

  2. ian says:
    September 16th, 2009 at 11:00 pm

    The speeches that make the mark are the ones opponents attack, especially the opponents who were not actually the target of the speech in the first place.
    There is no-one in Labour anywhere in the uk who could deliver a speech that you did last week Adam, not only due to lack of ability but also due to the stink of hypocrisy if they did.
    Carwyn will win if firstly he kills the ‘lazy’ tag that he carries and secondly if he distances himself from Plaid. Huw has run to date by far the best campaign but does not have wide union support and has not won over enough influential AMs.
    It was the best speeech I have heard you make and I am glad I was there to hear it. It was one of those moments.

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