Leanne Wood is leader of Wales’ Plaid Cymru party, and a member of the Welsh Assembly. In the BBC Wales debate of 2015, she tore a strip off Labour coup leader Own Smith – and her words should resonate with voters today.
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Smith deployed the same tactics against Plaid Cymru in 2015, as he is deploying against his own party leader today. The Blairite world-view is that because Middle England feels one way about UK politics, everyone does. Middle England has dictated the last few elections – this has been made possible by making sure the sort of politicians that could create a working class political movement were exiled from the ballot paper. Without a movement, the disillusioned members of the 76% who did not vote for the Conservative government in 2015 simply lost all political power. Elections for the last few decades have been decided by Middle England voters choosing to take a step slightly to the left or the right – but never leaving the comfort of neoliberalism.
This is a crisis for any democracy. The voices of Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland – and the vast swathes of England outside the Middle – have been almost entirely absent from the policy making machine in Westminster. The results have been catastrophic for social mobility, poverty, wealth inequality, and the integrity of our democracy and public services.
What’s happening now, is a counter-revolution. The 76% are not only waking up, they’re furious. Worse, from the point of view of the establishment – they believe they can win. They have a faith in their beliefs, the integrity of their new political representatives in Corbyn’s Labour, the Greens, the SNP and Plaid Cymru, and their ability to effect real change. They are emboldened. No long faces, no defeatism, no being put back in their box with a few brazen ‘reality checks’. There is passion, there is a compelling view of the future for which to fight, and there is less to lose. Life has been made so hard and precarious already, that taking the risk attached to change holds nothing like the threat it did in the past.
The neoliberal, business as usual, politicians and pundits have nothing to offer in reply but reheated versions of past arguments. No vision, no values, no strategy.
In this context, Leanne Wood’s message to Owen Smith in 2015 was incredibly prophetic.
“I love the way you think you can take for granted the way Plaid Cymru votes are going to go, just like you’ve taken for granted the people of Wales over many, many decades. I think time is up for taking people for granted, Owen Smith.”
Indeed it is.
You can join Plaid Cymru here.
You can join Labour here.
You can join the Green party of England and Wales here.
You can join the Scottish Greens here.
You can join the SNP here.
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