Wales -Plaid Cymru and Nationalism

Wales- Cymru
Welsh ‘radicalism’
Especially in the 19th century, but its influence
pervaded the political life of 20th century
Inicially, a movement to reform parliament.
Also to oppose the Anglican church tax.
Pacifism; wellfare state; leftist, lack of dogma
In time this led some Welsh politicians and
thinkers to socialism or/and nationalism.
Welsh ‘radicalism’
Reflected in the social thinking of Welsh
‘non-conformity’. (decentralized Protestant
religion in most of Wales in 19th-20th c)
This movement, or tendency left its mark
clearly on Welsh socialism and nationalism;
and in fact developed into these ideas.
The Labour Party (1900), and Plaid Cymru
Charting the course of Welsh history in such a
complex period as the 20th century is not an
easy task.
Industrialization: it was a mistake to depend
almost entirely in SE and NE Wales on coalproduction.
Lloyd George, Aneurin Bevan and James
Griffiths- the socialist ideal in Wales. Welfare
Wales: a quick look at the past 1920s
The dominance of the (British) Labour Party
in industrial Wales, and the declining Liberal
Party in rural Wales.
The beginnings of parliamentary nationalism.
Plaid Cymru.
Plaid Cymru- party or movement?
Founded in 1925. For many years it had no
impact on the electorate.
Its most prominent figure before WWII was
Saunders Lewis, he was its president
between 1926-1939.
Its political philosophy in the 1930s reflected
his rather conservative outlook.
Ambrose Bebb
Plaid Cymru- party or movement?
Amongst the aims of the party were dominion
status for Wales, membership of the UN, and
the creation of an economy based on the
Welsh concept of perchentyaeth. (shared
wealth, in an elitist society), and official
status for the Welsh language.
The political world in Wales was seriously
upset by symbolic, direct action in 1936 (400
years after the Act of Union)
The Fire in Penyberth
Saunders Lewis in 1936
Lewis Valentine, Saunders Lewis and D.J.Williams
Penyberth Farmhouse (as it was)
The Penyberth issue
1935-Gov. announced that a bombing school
would be set up on the site of an old
farmhouse that had long associations with
Welsh culture.
Pacifism, a view of Christian Welsh Wales.
8 September 1936, part of the new
buildings were set on fire by SL, DJ
Williams and Lewis Valentine.
The Penyberth issue
Two trials: one in Caernarfon, the second in the Old
Bailey (London).
The three were imprisoned.
When they were released in 1937, they were greeted
by large (12,000) crowds of supporters.
This symbolic act had a far-reaching effect upon the
intellectual and political life of Wales.
Wales: Saunders Lewis
Saunders Lewis (1893-1985) and the language issue.
1951, 29% of the Welsh population spoke Welsh.
1962 the Tynged yr Iaith radio lecture which sparked
off three decades of language activism. (Cymdeithas
yr Iaith).
Welsh-medium education and S4C.
Aftermath of Penyberth
The hope had been that such an action would
bring long-term success to Plaid Cymru.
It didn’t.
Eventually SL resigned as president.
By 1945 Plaid Cymru had moved on. The new
president Gwynfor Evans became the new
iconic figure in nationalist circles.
Growth in Welsh governance
The major development in the 1960s was the
creation of the Welsh Office (in London, and
The first Secretary of State for Wales was
James Grifiths 1964.
Early SSforW were Welsh, by the time of
Margaret Thatcher, they were mainly English.
Gwynfor Evans (1912-2005)
Gwynfor Evans
Gwynfor Evans’ approach was quite different
to that of his predecessor, Saunders Lewis. He
was more liberal in political terms, a pacifist.
Plaid Cymru slowly gained greater support.
In 1959 it was a much stronger party than the
SNP (now the opposite is true).
Gradually, support grew in the Labour-held
SE of Wales.
Gwynfor Evans
1966- Gwynfor Evans won the first seat for
Plaid Cymru in a by-election (for the
Westminster Parliament).
Others followed: Dafydd Wigley (1974)
Dafydd Elis Thomas (1974)
Unlike the SNP, Plaid Cymru was slow to attract
large numbers of supporters amongst the
electorate. In 1974, 11%. 2001, 14% of the Welsh
The first referendum in 1979 (rejected by the
Welsh electorate) had a very negative effect on
Plaid Cymru
Devolution fiasco of 1979. Resounding ‘no’.yet,
many people were now thinking of themselves as
primarily Welsh rather than ‘British’.
Between two referendums (1979-1997)
During this period Britain was ruled by a
right-wing Tory government for 18 years.
For part of that time, the PM was Margaret
Many of her policies were very unpopular:
(closure of coal industry, proposed poll-tax),
also increase in unemployment, and resultant
social disintergration).
Wales:devolution (1)
The radicalizing effects of this period no doubt
encouraged the desire for devolved government
in both Wales and Scotland.
As well as the situation in Northern Ireland, War in
the Falklands/Malvinas.
Later, after Labour was back in power, the 1997
devolution referendums had very different results.
The promise made by John Smith (from Scotland),
leader of the Labour Party.
Wales:devolution (2)
The 1997 ‘yes’ result in Wales. Strong
support in areas that had suffered greatly
during M Thatcher’s time: Gwynedd,
Carmarthenshire, Neath/Port Talbot and the
South Wales Valleys.
Government of Wales Act 1998. Set up the
National Assembly for Wales.
From Welsh Office to Welsh
As of July 1999, most of the powers invested
in the Welsh Office were transferred to the
Welsh Assembly.
The Welsh Office became Wales Office.
The Secretary for Wales (Ysgrifennydd
Gwladol Cymru)
Functions of the Wales Office today
‘The Secretary of State for Wales acts to ensure
that the interests of Wales are fully taken into
account by the UK Government in making
decisions that will have effect in Wales, and to
represent the UK Government in Wales.
The Secretary of State for Wales is responsible for
ensuring the passage of Wales-only legislation
through Parliament. Departments should copy to
the Secretary of State or the Wales Office all
correspondence between UK and Assembly
Ministers and between senior officials, especially
when it relates to primary legislation’.
With the success of the second referendum in
1997, Plaid Cymru entered a period of
electoral success.
In the first Welsh Assembly election (1999),
Plaid Cymru gained 28.4% of the popular
vote with 17 out of the 60 seats.
It also gained control of parts of Wales in
‘council’ elections (Gwynedd, Caerffili, and
Rhondda Cynon Taf).
National Assembly for Wales,
Cardiff 1998
Ron Davies: ‘Let no one think that now the
devolution genie is out of the bottle he can be
forced back in or that he won’t want to stretch
his muscles’ (or her muscles?).
Welsh representation:
4 MEPs
60 Senedd Members
40 Westminster
National Assembly for Wales 1998
60 members- 40 from the constituencies, 20
by the additional member system.
The powers were much less than those
devolved to Scotland.
First Ministers so far: Alun Michael, Rhodri
Morgan, Carwyn Jones. (Labour Party)
Y Senedd/National Assembly
Red=labour 30
Blue=conservative 14
Green=Plaid Cymru 11
Amber=Lib Dems 5
Wales in Westminster
Labour Party 26
Conservative Party 8
Liberal Democrats 3
Plaid Cymru 3 Total
Y Senedd/National Assembly
First Minister of Wales:
Carwyn Jones (Labour)
I’m pro-Wales,
Labour Party member,
Love the Assembly,
Against Scottish Independence
The president of PC Ieuan Wyn Jones
resigned and his post was taken up by Dafydd
Iwan (long-time language activist,
businessman, local councillor).
Yet, in the Assembly the leader of the party
remained Ieuan Wyn Jones, and in
Westminster Elfyn Llwyd.
How is Plaid Cymru going to react to
Scotland’s bid for independence?
Further uncertainties
In the 2005 Westminster elections, Plaid
Cymru lost one of its seats
In the 2007 Assembly election, PC only
managed to uphold 15 seats (out of 60). The
Welsh Labour Party gained 26 seats, but this
was not enough to form a government.
In the end, PC joined with Labour to form a
coalition in Cardiff.
Leadership race 2012
A Plaid Cymru leadership candidate said
winning the next two assembly elections
would give the party a mandate for a
referendum on Welsh independence.
Elin Jones signalled she would place Welsh
independence at the centre of the party's
election platform.
Plaid Cymru: Elin Jones
"There is a debate happening now in Wales,
England and Scotland now about the future of
the UK constitution - I want to see Plaid
Cymru engaged fully in the debate in order to
lead us to becoming a successful independent
"I'm clearly of the view that two consecutive
victories for Plaid Cymru, just as with the
SNP in Scotland, could trigger a referendum
for independence in Wales."
Scotland’s Independence bid
Former First Minister Rhodri Morgan (Labour
Party) said Wales would be worse off if
Scotland left the Union.
Mr Morgan said he was concerned about the
implications for Wales of Scotland voting for
Plaid Cymru leadership race
Elin Jones (frontrunner)
Elin Jones
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