Since 1970, which was the first year I could vote, I am proud to say I have voted at all 11 general elections and seen nine prime ministers come and go. The 2015 general election, however, is the first one I haven’t been excited about. I predict that it will produce confusion, division and weaken the United Kingdom hugely.
In Wales, we have a number of choices of political parties – all of which are deeply flawed. As a committed socialist, I don’t believe there is an option that is good for Wales. My “in-depth” analysis of the options on offer are as follows:
- Conservatives – a bunch of self-interested political elite, financially insulated from the realities of life that working people face. They are incapable of making policies that affect the vast majority of the population who live from month to month.
- Liberal Democrats – an ineffective bunch of lying politicians who are not to be trusted with any promises more demanding than to get up in the morning abd who will vanish almost without trace anyway at this election.
- Ukip – A bunch of racist, homophobic, bigoted Tories in another guise who make up policy on the hoof and who have no understanding of the implications of quitting the EU. They seem to forget that the open borders requirement is mandatory for countries like Norway who are not members of the EU but have a trading relationship. Deputy Ukip leader, Paul Nuttall, said at a meeting in Porthmadog recently, “We are one country, the majority of people in Wales speak English, if people come here they should learn English.” Not the best way to win Welsh votes!
- Green Party – I would have some sympathy with this broadly socialist party who have some good policies but no skill or experience (remember the leader’s recent radio debacle). The heart of the problem is that parties that are born out of a single issue attract people from left and right of centre but founder when their membership has conflicting ethos. Plaid Cymru has the same problem. The Greens are almost invisible here in Wales.
After dismissing four of the parties, we are left with Labour and Plaid Cymru which I believe are the only parties that offer anything for Wales. Unfortunately, I’m uninspired by both of them.
- Labour – I have been a member of the Labour Party for many years and am clinging on by my fingernails, but not for much longer. I shudder to think what Nye Bevan and James Keir Hardie would make of today’s wishy-washy, middle-of-the-road, appeal-to-all-people policies and their willing embracing of austerity. They support renewing Trident at a cost of £15-£20 billion, despite foodbanks having to deal with record numbers of clients. If the predicted rout of Labour in Scotland takes place, they will be decimated and I wonder if they will ever be a truly national party again.
- Plaid Cymru – again, they declare themselves to be a socialist party, but I don’t see a great deal of evidence of this. They have three MPs at present and may pick up a seat in May. The problem is that they will only have a handful of MPs and in a hung parliament they may be able to do some good in a coalition. However, this is where my fear of divisiveness comes in. With a large SNP presence plus a few Plaid members and the strident Unionists from over the water, the national parties will require huge concessions which will contribute towards divisiveness and cause many English people to question if they really do want to be part of a United Kingdom. Plaid up here in its heartland is very negative towards non-Welsh speakers in general and England in particular.
As an aside, was a total advocate of proportional representation until I realised that it would mean that Ukip would have a lot of seats and that thought fills me with horror. Now I am not quite sure whether I think it’s a good idea or not to ditch the first past the post system. At least that will spare us from more than a handful of Ukip fruitcakes. Whatever happens in May, we are going to have a government which two-thirds of the population does not want and England is going to be full of resentment at the concessions that Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will demand.
I’m going to keep banging the drum for the need for the UK to move towards a federal system, devolving almost everything except foreign policy and defence to the nations. We can but dream.