Imagine if Lembit Opik turned around and claimed that the reason why he lost Mont was due to an influx of immigrants living in Mont. It would be quickly condemned as a pretty racist remark and a pretty shite excuse to explain his result. He would be attacked by the media and probably rightly so, as it would be just a touch on the racist side, a side most of us want to avoid.
But is there really that much difference between that hypothetical comment and what Cynog Dafis, former Plaid Cymru AM and MP said in yesterday’s Western Mail?
Mr Dafis said:
“There has also been a demographic change in Ceredigion, to the point where up to half of the inhabitants are people who have either moved here themselves from England or are the children of people who have done so.
“This demographic change has reduced the number of people who have a Welsh perspective on politics.
“When the Liberal Democrat bubble was punctured towards the end of the campaign, voters elsewhere gravitated to the Tories or Labour. In Ceredigion, those parties don’t figure, so people tended to stick with the Lib Dems, whose only rivals were the Nats.”
As someone who is from England, but has settled and now set up home in Wales (got job, rented room, ate some Welshcakes) I can’t help but be a touch offended by the comments.
Mr Dafis is not a racist, that is clear, but would his comments be seen in a different light if they had been about a group other than those from England?
What it does reveal is that strange attitude that Plaid seem to have towards politics. This seems to be symptomatic of the underlying tone that Welsh people should vote Plaid because….well, they’re Welsh. Being Welsh means voting Plaid, and if that isn’t happening, it’s the fault of the English.
Having a ‘Welsh perspective’ on politics seems to simply means being born to the West of the border. Moving to Wales, and just not agreeing with Plaid on points of policy or seeing them as being fundamentally irrelevant in a political context means you just aren’t seeing things from that perspective. You’re wrong, they’re right, you just don’t see it.
The fact is I believe I have a ‘Welsh perspective’ on politics. Just because I’m not Welsh doesn’t mean that I don’t understand the desperate need for investment in the valleys, the cultural benefit and need to maintain and grow the Welsh language and the fact that rural communities are under separate pressures from urban areas. I just don’t like bloody leeks.
Discounting someone’s political opinion because they were born in a specific place, and almost complaining that it’s unfair that they are allowed to vote in your communities smacks of a lack of understanding of the general need for populations to move around, learn from different people and understand each others cultures.
Someone who moves to Ceredigion, even if it is just for a few years, has just as equal voice and right to express their political views as anyone who has lived there for ten generations. I am sure Mr Dafis would not want to ban Welsh students moving to London and voting there, so why does he target the English? Would he dare to include any other culture? Or are the English just fair game for Plaid?
Instead of blaming the English, maybe Plaid should be questioning themselves on why the politics that they espouse seems unable to connect with those from outside Wales? Is it because their manifesto was a joke? Is it because they have been unable to answer how they have any relevance on a UK wide basis? Is it because some see the language as important, but not the be all and end all in politics?
Plaid are struggling, that much is clear. And now they are lashing out at voters instead of looking at their own failings.
Feel free to continue doing that. It’s kinda helpful.