Éire Ghaelach – Éire Shaor
There is a surprisingly sympathetic article looking at Welsh nationalism, Plaid Cymru and the Plaid leadership candidate Leanne Wood in the Guardian newspaper:
“Leanne Wood is rather different from most of the UK’s politicians. Forty years old and a mother of one, she still lives in the same street in the Rhondda Valley where she was born and brought up. She thinks the crash of 2008 should have “resulted in the rejection of capitalism and many of its basic economic and political assumptions”, and that the UK’s coalition amounts to a “hyper-competitive, imperial/militaristic, climate-change-ignoring and privatising government”. She is also a proud republican, who refuses to attend the kind of official events at which the Queen turns up, and was once thrown out of the Welsh Assembly for referring to the reigning monarch as “Mrs Windsor”. If any of this chimes with your general view of what’s wrong with the world, it’s fair to say that you’d like her.
If Wood pursued her political career in Westminster, her opinions might ensure she was kept safely on the fringes. But in her home country, she is a high-profile voice – and the current favourite to take over the leadership of Plaid Cymru, the nationalist party who, until 2011, shared power in Wales with Labour.
The prospect of life as party leader is not the only reason for her air of energised enthusiasm. Being a senior Plaid Cymru figure, Wood believes in Welsh independence. And with Scotland set to vote on whether to stay part of the UK in 2014 and the future of the union being argued over as never before, Wood and her fellow Welsh nationalists think there is an unprecedented opening for the most fundamental of their beliefs.
Membership of Plaid has gone up 23% in the past four months. And while its senior politicians once held that pointed talk about independence was a vote-loser, all four of the current leadership candidates are falling over themselves to underline their vision of a Wales finally free from the English yoke.”
Given the extreme hostility of the British media establishment to Alex Salmond and the SNP in Scotland (including most of the journalists and feature writers at the Guardian), this almost enthusiastic profile of Leanne Wood is decidedly odd. However the same tone has been picked up by other media, and the BBC is now reporting that her candidacy seems likely to win through to the leadership of Plaid Cymru:
“The bookies have Leanne Wood as a clear favourite now. She won the battle for nominations from branches and constituency parties hands down. Her ‘big names’ are bigger than anybody else’s. (Adam Price was no surprise. Dafydd Iwan rather more so, say the Elin Jones camp). What was seen as inexperience a few weeks ago, is now seen as a fresh approach, a politician whose time – to the surprise, even, of some of those who plan to vote for her – has come. In the world of online polls and twitter support, she is the runaway winner. They, at least, might be tempted to think it’s all over”
With the SNP in Scotland dominating politics north of the border, Plaid Cymru in Wales experiencing a revival in their fortunes, and even Mebyon Kernow in Cornwall beginning to gain new ground, it is, perhaps, not the only thing that is all over.