Why Welsh politics must cease muddying 2023

Last Monday, Wales Green Party leader Anthony Slaughter called independence from the English Greens “inevitable” and “desirable.”

Great news, but less reassuring considering the party had voted on this topic in 2018 and elected to stay attached to their English counterparts.

Hayden Williams

Only 20% of members voted, yet 65% supported the English Greens.

Despite Slaughter’s recent announcement, the Welsh Greens haven’t officially broken the cord (despite the Northern Irish and Scottish Greens having done so).

The Welsh and UK Conservatives, Welsh Labour, and Welsh Liberal Democrats are all unionists.

Why is Welsh politics still “a thing”? After 25 years, we have the Senedd, our parliament. Funding is the apparent solution, but is this acceptable?

Slaughter said England and Wales Green Parties share resources. Politics is expensive, but this “apron strings” arrangement undermines their credibility as a Welsh party seeking independence.

After the 2018 decision to keep connections with England, Wales Green Party leader Grenville Ham resigned. After the membership chose to remain a party of two countries, he felt his membership was untenable.

That sums up the issue, right? How can any “party of two countries” advance Wales’ interests?

Alarm Bells

The Welsh Conservatives have received funds from affluent English benefactors who share their goal of reuniting Wales with the Union.

At least these gifts are transparent. Welsh voters understand the Welsh Conservatives.

But wait! Welsh Conservatives have discussed leaving the UK Conservatives. The Telegraph reported in July 2022.

The Welsh Conservatives wanted “Welsh-focused answers to Welsh issues” and were upset that Boris Johnson didn’t invite Senedd Members to Number 10 after his election, a source said.

Number 10 doesn’t care about Wales or treat it as a devolved legislature, hence no one was invited. Why are all but one of our Welsh political parties still conflated with Westminster parties?

Only Plaid Cymru lacks a political “mother-ship.” Plaid isn’t flawless, but it’s held the course. You’d think at least some of the other Welsh parties would have joined it in standing on their own by now, but Plaid is still the only party working toward a completely autonomous Wales.

Welsh Labour is cloudier. The fact that “clear red water” has to be explained to Welsh people should have raised red flags.

Welsh politics is changing: somehow, the Welsh mindset seems to be catching up to the fact that we’ve had our own parliament for 25 years.

With Labour currently in charge in Wales, what is split between Welsh and English Labour is unclear.

Transparency

The Electoral Commission publishes all party, campaigner, and candidate spending data from the preceding Senedd election.

“Ensuring voters are able to see clearly and accurately how money was spent on influencing them at this election,” says Louise Edwards, the Electoral Commission’s Director of Regulation.

Declared donations and spending are categorized by the Electoral Commission.

UK Labour declares donations, but Welsh Labour declares costs. Welsh Labour’s campaign spending is visible, but UK Labour’s assistance is not.

Welsh Labour (Cardiff HQ) and UK Labour (National HQ, Newcastle) were asked weeks ago why this is the case and how much UK Labour has redirected or donated to Welsh Labour over the past three years, but neither party responded.

Money aside, Labour think-tanks like the Fabian Society, Compass, and Labour Together, associated UK-wide trade unions, and the variety of party-connected specific interest groups may provide other benefits.

Welsh Labour has (conveniently?) claimed that Wales and her people are better off in the UK, therefore it may not matter.

Whether you agree or not, the problem is that the Welsh Labour Party appears to benefit from staying in the UK.

Again, Welsh Labour—and so Welsh Government—must then be a “party of two nations.”

Serving two masters is impossible.

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