Plaid and Socialism

An extremely good post on Glyn Davies AM's blog yesterday The Light amongst the Grasses. I find myself in sympathy with much of what he says about Plaid Cymru and its socialist baggage.

I left the Liberal Party and joined Plaid Cymru in 1979 because of my conviction that it was in Wales' best interest to be self governing and that none of the other parties would reintroduce any semblance of self government after the referendum result unless there was a strong nationalist party in Wales arguing the cause of independence. I certainly didn't join Plaid because I support socialism.

Although there has always been a socialist element in Plaid Cymru I've never quite been able to understand why. Socialism and nationalism appear to me to be opposing ideals

Plaid claims to be an anti-imperialist party, but socialism is inherently an imperialist ideology. One can't have socialism in little pockets here and there, the socialist Utopia requires all peoples everywhere to be governed by the same economic and social policies. The idea of independence is anathema to the socialist ideal.

Of course neither Plaid nor the Labour Party sign up to Soviet type socialism, so some might argue that the imperialism of international socialism isn't relevant to their democratic socialist views, but some members of Plaid do like to use the international socialist tag.

One of the basic tenants of all forms of Socialism is dependence upon the state. The only state that the people of Wales have to depend upon at the moment is the British state; it is nonsensical for a party to campaign for people to become more dependent on a state that the same party is also campaigning to abolish.

I think that it was Prof James Mitchell who made the point that Mrs Thatcher was the midwife of devolution because she dismantled so many of the institutions on which the people of Scotland and Wales depended for their services and their livelihoods and which made them "British" by dependence. By supporting re-nationalisation Plaid's socialists want to recreated many of those old institutions that have bound the people of Wales to Britain.

If you ask members of Plaid what they think of the Labour Party most of them will tell you that Labour has ruled the roost in Wales for about 100 years and that after a centaury of Labour failure its time for a change. I agree. The $64K question is why has Labour failed Wales for the past centaury? The answer is because Labour has given us 100 years of left wing politics. Changing the label on left wing politics from Labour to Plaid won't change a thing. What Wales needs in order to succeed is an alternative to the 100 years of failure of left wing politics - not a name change.

My biggest grievance against Plaid's socialism isn't however ideological, its because I find Plaid's socialist facade completely cynical. Most Plaid people that I know would be One Nation Conservatives or Liberals if they had been born English, some may even have become "new" Labour. The diehard firebrand socialists in the party are few and far between. The red flag is being flown by Plaid simply because some in the party have calculated that there are lots of socialist votes in the valleys and that if Plaid pretends to out-socialist Labour those votes could be in the bag. The sad thing is that Plaid has failed to realise that there is a hell of a lot of Welsh patriotism in the Valleys too and that a genuine nationalist appeal to that patriotic sentiment would probably bag the party a hell of a lot more votes than a cynical appeal to socialism.

Because this blog is listed under "Plaid Cymru" on the Wales Elects 2007 blogg, I should note that I am not a member of Plaid Cymru and I haven't been a member for many years.


  1. Interesting post, and I agree with most of what you're saying, though you yourself admit that Plaid is only nominally socialist. Still, considering that we both want to see Plaid do well on May 3rd, I think you should be burned as a heretic.


    PS you're on the Plaid list -like me- because you're a Welsh Nat, not because you're a party member.

  2. Da iawn Alwyn! If there was a greater degree of PR and a 80 seat Senedd there'd be room for right of centre nationalist party; a kind of Welsh Gaullist party.


  3. That is also my sentiment. I was within the thikness of a hair to joining Plaid Cymru the other day, but all this Socialism and "we'll go into coalition with the tories, but not under them" bosh is just being silly and alienating anyone with a slight tory streak.

  4. Um what’s so wrong with a leftist view -depends on which socialist view you take
    After all Maggie Thatcher and David Cameroooonman are very different Tories
    And not all nationalists are Plaid or Welsh speaking

  5. Good post MOF! I read Glyn's original post with interest. I agree it is wrong to characterise most Tories as being "anti devolution" there were a number of Welsh Tories who did support devolved government in one way or another. It was the Thatcherites were fervent "unionists".

    If my faulty memory serves me right Saunders Lewis was a conservative, Catholic and a fervent monarchist. I think he saw Plaid as a sort of a "Gaullist" type party. I have always found the accusation that he was a fascist (in the Action Francais mould) as unfair, and was probably closer to G K Chesterton and Hillaire Belloc in philosophy.

    Any how Dafydd El as always said that he was not NATIONALIST. I think Plaid's type of socialism was influenced by the New Left variety of Raymond Williams and E P Thomson, essentially anti statist and Utopian, and impratical.

    The problem with Wales is (posibly not now as Labour is hardly socialist) is like the Catholic Church, you cannot have 2 socialist parties!

    Plaid introduced Socialism in his platform in 1981? And what became of the "Hydro" group?


  6. Good article. I have long thought that Plaid is really two cobbled together parties - a socialist one and a patriotic one. If they had to govern those tensions would crack under the pressure of trying to make decisions,

    Matt Wright