Welsh Rarebit



From top: The Welsh Assembly building, Cardiff; Dan Boyle


Part of negotiations to offer a new progressive force in Welsh politics the author warns of the dangers of excluding possibilities.

Dan Boyle writes:

Since the turn of the year I have been involved in that most uncomfortable of euphemisms – backroom discussions. I found myself approached, on behalf of my employers, by people previously unknown to me who wanted to talk about a new way of doing Welsh politics.

Intrigued and never adverse to talking, my curiosity sucked me into a process. The instigator was a man that I found since to be wholly honourable in the selling of his concept, and in his belief to involve others in its progress.

The concept was that a progressive alliance of political parties [Plaid Cymru,Wales Green Party and Welsh Liberal Democrats] could maximise votes [in elections in May] into additional Welsh Assembly seats, that would have offered the prospect of an alternative government being available to the Welsh electorate.

It was and remains a bold theory. One that sadly, on this occasion, has not come to pass.

That it came so close to being seriously considered is somewhat surprising, but perhaps is also an indication that a different way may be closer than had been hoped.

Politics, as that most trite of cliches goes, is the art of the possible. This process has illustrated to me why, even with those whose political instincts are open and pluralistic, what is known by whom and when is by necessity a cautious process.

Those of us tasked to listen and explore consulted narrowly, slightly expanding each time the numbers whose opinions were sought. The three political groupings involved would pride themselves on their internal democracy, the Wales Green Party especially so. It was particularly difficult for me to go before our National Council to present them with a series of what ifs and maybes with no names or pack drills.

The reason for seeming subterfuge wasn’t based on lack of trust. It was born of a belief that any group, and all groups are political, should have the freedom to see ideas develop in neutral situations.

In the end it was all academic. A third political party [Welsh Liberal Democrats] whose involvement in the process had seemed tentative, and was based more on preserving what they had rather than explore possibilities, exhibited the coldest of feet.

Abstracting this experience towards Ireland, to what could be an historic election in eight days times, it seems we are just as bad at excluding possibilities.

Like a pop up shooting gallery political media throughout the World (Ireland is no different in this) engage in a process of seeking definitive statements from political parties on will they or won’t they be in government with each other. It would be better if these alternatives could be offered before an election. However the suggestion of possibilities is to suggest political weakness.

The success of Syriza in Greece and Podemos in Spain is that they are less traditional political parties, more cohesive electoral arrangements designed to maximise the impact of previously unheard voices and opinions.

The choice is simple – we either do things as we have always done them or we do them differently. Nothing in politics changes until we change the way politics is done.

Dan Boyle is a former Green Party TD. His column appears here every Thursday. Follow Dan on Twitter: @sendboyle

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36 thoughts on “Welsh Rarebit

  1. Nilbert

    “This process has illustrated to me why, even with those whose political instincts are open and pluralistic, what is known by whom and when is by necessity a cautious process.”

    I’m sorry, but what strange new language is this? Are you trying to be deliberately vague and obscure? Whatever your intended message is, it gets lost in your abstruse prose every single week.

  2. ollie

    I think the lesson to learn from your Welsh (and Irish ) experience Dan is to talk less and do more, a mistake that the Irish Greens look destined to repeat again and again.
    If you doubt this is true, have a read of the Irish Green Party election manifesto? There isn’t a single concrete proposal in it (other than extending the green man time on pedestrian crossings to prevent the squashing of senior citizens). They need you back Dan, they really do.

  3. rory

    Hi Dan, I have a question. How long do you think it will take the Green Party to recover from the Fianna Fail coalition?

    1. Dan Boyle

      The recovery has started. A dozen councillors and coming within a whisper of a Euro seat. A new generation of candidates. Having a good campaign. Faring as well as the Soc Dems; the PABAPA; the Rossites or Renua. Green GE support was never more than 4.7%. We’re coming back.

      1. ollie

        No you’re not Dan. The greens are a spent force, too much association with Fianna Fail and too little meaningful policies.
        For example, my local candidate promises to:

        •address inequality,
        •provide secure homes for people and
        •bring further transparency to politics.

        What on earth does this mean?

        1. Dan Boyle

          Doesn’t matter what they would say you wouldn’t accept it anyway. You wanting something to be so doesn’t make it so. Keep abstracting.

          1. ollie

            I came within a whisper of a european seat once. The Belgian police arrested me, something about lewd behavior?

        2. LW

          Those actually seem like noble goals to me. The inequality is presumably the inequality in society, secure homes would be a nice antidote to the homelessness crisis, and transparency in politics would be a new and refreshing direction. I can’t really see where the confusion arises.

          1. sǝɯǝɯʇɐpɐq

            ♫@Formerly known as @, boom-boom;♪

            A bit more Motherly influence in our next government wouldn’t go astray.
            -Don’t knock it ’til you tried it.

            We all need love.

          2. Formerly known as @ireland.com

            In response to sǝɯǝɯʇɐpɐq
            “A bit more Motherly influence in our next government wouldn’t go astray.
            -Don’t knock it ’til you tried it.
            We all need love.”

            — I will be voting Green in the election, this year. It will be the Aussie Federal Election, though.

            I expect my pollies to provide specific statements of their policies, that I can analyse.

  4. ollie

    Seriously, does anyone actually watch eco eye? I mean, set time aside to watch it and not take in 2 minutes of it between ad breaks on Pawn Stars?

    1. :-Joe

      Yes people watch it… and not just because Duncan looks like he has dropped acid and stepped out of a DeLorean to talk to us from the future about climate change.

      It had a good episode on energy storage recently.. I was surprised to see Ireland is so involved and is at the forefront of the science in new battery technology development.

      It”s about the only decent unbiased 30 mins of useful information about Ireland’s future coming from RTE.

      Unless you are single minded about a future with pawn shops or flogging junk or prawns or whatever that other thing is.

      None of this stuff is even being discussed by the candidates in the election and imo it’s why we need the greens back in some kind of coalition with other social minded non-establishment candidates.The environment needs representation too.


      1. sǝɯǝɯʇɐpɐq

        @ :-Joe ;
        …or whatever that other thing is.

        ‘Round my way we call it ‘poverty’.
        it looks bad from the outside. It’s totally down to a lack of focus, or a belief that other things matter more.

        I wish we could all afford your dreams.

    1. sǝɯǝɯʇɐpɐq

      I thought you were a different anne.
      I clicked the link. I regretted it.

      You’re the same anne, aren’t you?
      You’re ‘cut ‘n’ paste’ anne with a capital ‘A’.

      I didn’t recognise you without the red dress.

  5. gerogerigegege

    jesus,. do you ever go away Dan.
    take a leaf out of your pals in fianna fail that wrecked the country and take a hike!!!!!

      1. sǝɯǝɯʇɐpɐq

        Don’t go Dan.
        I’m asking you not to, please.
        There aren’t many voices left on the Internet I can relate to.
        I don’t want to lose you too…

        I’m Desperate Dan.

        But seriously, I like you.
        If you ever need a proof-reader who will surreptitiously inject a bit of juvenile humour into your writing I’m your man. What’s the worst that can happen?

        1. sǝɯǝɯʇɐpɐq

          In all seriousness, I appreciate the voice of someone who’s fought for their ideals and still continues to do so.

          Detractors will always be the loudest.
          Don’t stop fighting the good fight.

          I don’t know how you don’t get angry.

          1. sǝɯǝɯʇɐpɐq


            Don’t reply.
            You know it makes sense.

            You don’t want to be associated to me.

            You’re a good man Dan.

Comments are closed.

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