You’ve probably noticed there’s some crazy shit happening. I won’t go into it, but I did find myself wondering the other day what would happen in the next episode of that dark US political drama I’ve been watching. Then I came to and realised I had wishfully mistaken life for Netflix.
Recent events have after all prompted even Carwyn Jones to depart from his usual style of beige – yesterday he released a statement saying the following:
Mr Farage likes to play by a different set of rules, this much is true. But in what universe do we let go, without comment or censure, the pictures of this grinning poppy-less popinjay in a gold lift with Donald Trump?
I’m not Carwyn’s biggest fan, but credit where credit is due…
It seems feasible that pretty much anything could happen at this point.
About a month ago, I blogged about how life in the UK had begun to feel like being car-jacked, and that I was hell-bent on getting out of the car before it crashed. Retrospectively, things were blissfully calm back then compared to the current gold-plated mayhem. Last month’s car-jacking looks more like a relaxing afternoon punting, compared to where we now find ourselves.
Things are happening quickly. Politics is changing very quickly indeed, and the rules of the game even quicker. From where I’m sitting it seems altogether feasible that Gary Lineker may be the next Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. He wouldn’t be the least qualified world leader. Indeed as I assess the potential alternatives, it seems he may be the least worst option. (Will I look back on this, I wonder, as the ‘Simpsons moment’, for the Lineker Leadership bid?) I’m kind of fine with it, as long as we can have Michael Sheen in Wales. He has at least played the role of Prime Minister in a feature film, which is not to be sniffed at in political CV terms these days.
But in the meantime, we need to tear up everything we thought we knew about politics, political campaigning, winning elections etc, and reassess. For me, this will be blissfully quick. I am fairly new to this, although I do have a few transferable skills I can throw in.
There are many reasons I’m standing for Plaid Cymru next May. If I lived in England (it’s where I was born and lived for a quarter of a century after all – but for the twists of fate that have brought me here, it’s not an outlandish thing to imagine) I like to think I would be standing for the Green Party. I’d no doubt be trying to do a great number of other very worthwhile things at the same time, like campaigning for proportional representation and starting up a local branch of #HopeNotHate. I’d probably be losing focus.
Its equally possible of course that I may just have retreated under the duvet on the 23rd of June and not come back out. But thankfully I am in Wales and we have other options.
I am an optimist, and so I believe that something positive will emerge from the fracturing of the political norms in the UK. That ‘something’ will look very different depending on which of the countries of the UK you live in. In England, there is a very real and present danger that the thing which crawls out of the fractured bowels of the earth, will be grinning and waving a US stamp in his passport. But I prefer to think that Gary is an equally likely option. Whatever way it goes, its going to be a hell of a bumpy ride, so they’d better buckle up. In the meantime, whilst wishing them well, we shouldn’t make the mistake of assuming that our destiny is irretrievably linked to theirs.
Scotland’s political landscape reformed many moons ago. The SNP and their civic Nationalism have differentiated Scottish politics from that of the rest of the UK to such an extent that they may as well have floated off into the North Sea. They were last spotted, figuratively speaking, just off the coast of Greenland.
But what of Wales? What will emerge here?
We have everything to play for. Recent events have shown that in politics, anything can happen. Big changes can happen fast. Public opinion can turn quickly. Pollsters can and will be wrong. Voters will confound convention and turn the tables on all of our assumptions.
This doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Not if we capitalise on the state of flux in which we find ourselves. Not if we promote a coherent, credible, progressive alternative in Wales. If only there were already a party that had Wales’ interests at heart. If only there was a party with progressive policies, that valued all people in Wales’ equally no matter where they come from, or how vulnerable they may be. A party in favour of further devolution (that actually votes for it when it is offered) and that had a long-term vision for an independent Wales.
If only we had a Party of Wales.
Now admittedly, we have some limitations in Wales (don’t worry I’m not going to bang on about the media deficit again – but did you listen to that ‘Desolation Radio’ podcast yet?) So we can’t rely on the mainstream to give Plaid a fair crack. They (we) are still going to get cast as peddling a sinister form of Nationalism. They (we) will continue to be misrepresented as a niche party for seventh generation Welsh-speaking farmers only (hello, Plaid lass from Derby here) and there isn’t a whole lot we can do about that in the same time frame as, say, the BBC can catapult a fascist to worldwide fame.
But we have voices to be heard and for the most part more than an ounce of sense. We most of us have both feet and hands. These are about the only things we need. So this week, I am going to start door my door knocking campaign for May 2017 (I’m standing for Plaid in my home ward in Penarth). I’m going to rope in a lot of my friends. They don’t know it yet, but if you are reading this and you think I mean you, then I probably do (we can go to the pub after).
There’s an argument already being made for a better alternative. There’s a party with the ideas, the ability and the vision to start building a better future for Wales. Labour have had 5 million years of power in Wales already, and they’ve done sod all with it. It’s someone else’s turn, and it’s about bloody time we gave Plaid a go.
I’m not saying that Plaid are perfect, or that there aren’t things I feel they should do differently. But I’m a kind of ‘get involved, show willing and make helpful suggestions’ kind of a person. So if you think they might be for you, but there’s something you’ve got a beef with, then get involved in the conversation.
So it’s up to us. If we all take one step up the ‘engagement ladder’ (it’s a thing, if you work where I work). If you are a Plaid voter, then join. If you are a member, then go along to your local branch and volunteer. If you are already active in your branch then go along to the next meeting and say ‘we are going to win this election in May’. Then draw up a door knocking rota if you don’t already have one and go and chat with your electorate.
If your community is anything like mine, people will likely be delighted someone has taken the time to canvass their opinion – voters don’t like being taken for granted and in a lot of formerly safe seats for Labour, people are hard pushed to remember a time someone last knocked their door and asked ‘what do you think?’
Mention the fact that Plaid are going to win, people like to back a winner.
If none of the above apply to you yet, then its possible you are a former Labour voter. You know what to do. You can read about Plaid Cymru’s programme for opposition (which has more umph than Labour’s programme of Government) here.
If you have previously voted for the Tory party or UKIP, we may need a longer conversation.
If you are Dafydd Elis Thomas, I’m not sure what to advise. I think you may have stuffed up (but thanks for the Twitter follow)…
The alternative is doing nothing. Just letting business as usual take its course (flaccid Labour inertia, taking us all for granted for another 5 million years and getting away with being mediocre and wasting all Wales’ potential).
Its a pretty dangerous gamble. I don’t personally want to see what happens next in Wales if we fail to change track. If all those voters drifting to the right keep drifting for lack of a credible alternative, or worst still if they start marching. Where do we end up? What does Trumptown Wales look like? Not pretty. That’s what happens if we all do nothing, and its a pretty big incentive to do something.
Don’t you think?