What Would Nye Do? A Future Direction for Welsh Labour

From Planet 231

by Daryl Leeworthy

Daryl Leeworthy examines the ideological crossroads which Welsh Labour finds itself at post-Carwyn Jones. He details just how transformative the Welsh labour movement once was, and argues that in order to remain central to Wales’s story the party needs to reject its recent flag-waving quasi-nationalism and return wholeheartedly to the principles of radical social democracy.

Since the end of the First World War, the Labour Party has dominated politics in Wales. Only one constituency of the traditional thirty six has never had a Labour member of parliament: Montgomeryshire. In 1983, as an illustration of the party’s weakness there, this was the only Welsh constituency where Labour lost its deposit. Yet the imprint of the labour movement is hard to ignore, even in Montgomeryshire. Robert Owen, father of the co-operative movement, was born in Newtown in 1771. And it was to Gregynog Hall, just outside Newtown, that the future general secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers, Will Paynter, and a handful of others, walked in the 1930s to protest Britain’s non-intervention in the Spanish Civil War. Gregynog Hall was a favourite retreat of Stanley Baldwin, the then Prime Minister, who enjoyed walking in the Welsh hills because, in the words of a more recent incumbent of Downing Street, ‘the walks give clarity’. Baldwin was on furlough when Paynter and his comrades arrived.

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