A Week to Reflect

Cliciwch yma i ddarllen y blog yma yn Gymraeg.

Every year Cymdeithas Cledwyn holds a meeting at the Eisteddfod. It is an opportunity for Welsh-speaking Welsh Labour members to get together for a chat, named in honour of Cledwyn Hughes, former MP for Anglesey and a tireless campaigner for the Welsh language.

Last year we focused on the elections for Police and Crime Commissioners. Last Thursday was a chance to hear from Dafydd Elystan Morgan – Elystan to his friends and Baron Elystan-Morgan officially. I met Elystan when I was Chief Executive of North Wales Police Authority and on behalf of the Police Authorities of Wales, I drafted an amendment to the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill which would have transferred responsibility for the checks and balances by locally elected representatives in Wales to be determined by the National Assembly of Wales. You can read the debate here.

Last week’s meeting was chaired again by Eluned Morgan. Eluned began by telling us she had taken Elystan everywhere with her on holiday, including to bed, before explaining that she was talking about his book, which is available here. I’ve ordered a copy and look forward to reading it . You can find a review of the book here.

Thanks to Richard Wyn Jones for questioning Elystan about his history and his views on contemporary issues. Richard asked Elystan about his reasons for leaving Plaid Cymru and joining  the Labour Party in 1965. Elystan explained that he had not changed his mind about self-government for Wales or the importance of supporting the Welsh language – but recognised that he had a better chance of achieving these objectives through the Labour Party. He suffered a blow in 1979 when he failed to be elected to represent Anglesey (ironically at a similar age to my own failed bid!) but went on to a second career as a member of the House of Lords and as a judge.

Of course Elystan was proved right: it was the Labour Party that secured devolution for Wales and official recognition of the the Welsh language. Sometimes Plaid Cymru have focused on identifying the Labour Party as the enemy – so it was interesting to see in the by-election last month their candidate focus instead on things Plaid Cymru has achieved by working with Labour. Indeed, on the issue affecting  the island where there is deep disagreement between Labour and Plaid Cymru (the future of nuclear power), Rhun agreed with us. He also recognised that independence does not make sense to Wales at the moment although this remains his long term goal. There were a few efforts to claim that the Labour Party is anti-Welsh and say different things to voters in both English and Welsh – something very foolish which I hope they will not try again.

Some people struggle with Welsh names. The solution to this is to support them. The day after Rhun complained that a member of the Labour party couldn’t say his name, I met a woman in the centre of Holyhead who spoke Welsh but couldn’t pronounce Taliesin. I did not blame or condemn her but helped and encouraged her. According to a poll last year, 81% of Labour voters are proud of the Welsh language – more than average voters. I’m proud of my Welsh name and the Welsh names we chose for our children. Aneurin and Taliesin wrote the oldest surviving text in Welsh – the text that is the basis for our claim that Welsh is the oldest living language in Europe.

Of course I hoped to win the election although previous results for Anglesey elections to the Assembly suggested that this was unlikely. But it is more important to me to win the argument. And the most important argument in politics today is between those who want to build the economy where everyone who can work will have the opportunity to do so and those who are so focused on cutting the deficit they didn’t appreciate the damage being done to the economy. Since 2010 deficit reduction has been marginal despite all the cuts because many more people have been put out of work or are working part time.

While the Westminster Coalition parties are not offering any hope, UKIP offers false hope. A large number of people on Anglesey believe that immigration is the problem with the economy. But there was much more evidence about the necessity of emigration: young people leaving the Island to work. It is the history of the Island, and also the history of my family. If everyone working overseas came home at the same time and everyone who works here from abroad returned home, the only certainty is many more people out of work!

Politicians who encourage people to blame their neighbours for lack of work or housing do nothing except raise tensions between communities. What is needed is to create more jobs – for example by building more affordable housing. Plaid Cymru agree with the Labour Party on this. I hope as a result of Rhun’s victory we will hear more from them on this – instead of the less positive aspects of their campaign.

What do you think?

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s