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The Party of Wales — but not as you know it.


THE ELECTION CAMPAIGN for Plaid Cymru (“The Party of Wales”) got off to a bad start when it had to withdraw a tweeted image of one of its activists.

The image showed the head and shoulders of Sahar al-Faifi, a geneticist in the Welsh NHS, with the words, “Ni yw Cymru – Wales, it’s us.” Plaid obviously thought flogging the diversity issue was a great way to flaunt their modern progressive values to the populace and that sticking Ms Al Faifi’s visage on the tweet was a cracking way to begin.Image: Star/Twitter

Except that all you can see of her face is her eyes. The rest is beniqab’d and obscured. The impression of those eyes staring out from their enclosure is, I have to admit (and trying to put aside my imputed Islamophobia) sinister. The words don’t make it any better. You could easily read it as a threat: “Hello, Wales, the Caliphate is coming.”

If you think I’m being a tad unfair or even prejudiced then take note of the fact that so many abusive tweets were received by Plaid that they thought it best to delete it. Obviously a lot of racist Islamophobes in Wales, then, just like everywhere else in Britain.

What this reveals – the cack-handed arrogance and tone-deafness of Plaid — is something we’re used from the whole of the British political establishment, especially the liberal end. The image in that one tweet conveys a veritable argosy of meanings and resonances – none of them positive. Here are a couple of points.

The Muslim population of Wales is less than one per cent. I would have thought that using people who are similar to the majority would be the most intelligent way of appealing for votes. Using a member of a very, very small minority might not, especially when that person’s garb could suggest they’re not completely committed to assimilating themselves into the nation’s way of life.

The image reinforces the (correct) suspicion that the political establishment cares more about foreigners and their cultures than it does about the natives and theirs. You don’t have to be a fully committed conspiracy theorist spouting off about the Kalergy population replacement plan to realise that something is definitely afoot. Plaid Cymru’s own manifesto waves their sanctimonious diversity credentials proudly, saying they want to import more immigrants (to help the economy, obviously). They even think they can set up their own devolved immigration policy “so that Wales can set its own migration quota according to its own needs, with greater flexibility, for example, in processing entrepreneur visas.” The self-delusion and impracticability of this proposal are beyond rational discourse.

Plaid seem to be putting their faith in stopping Brexit and living off bungs from the EU.

They also hope to gain extra virtue points by making Wales a “nation of sanctuary” for refugees, welcoming the world’s oppressed (for which read “young, male economic immigrants) to its tiny economy. Again, there is no acknowledgement of how this is to be achieved in financial and social terms or how it will be possible to prevent the leakage of immigrants across the border into England or vice versa. Plaid seem to be putting their faith in stopping Brexit and living off bungs from the EU.

Beautiful country that it is, there’s nothing in Wales between the southern and northern edges but mountains, fields and sheep. If Plaid have their way all of that will end up covered in wind turbines and solar panels as part of their fantasy Green Deal. It will be a land free of plastic, carbon neutral, of course, and a world leader in every aspect of political correctitude.

Ms Al-Faifi has unfortunately besmirched Plaid’s PC credentials already. She was suspended after it was learned that a few years earlier she had made anti-Semitic comments on Twitter and Facebook, and had been sent on a re-education course. A spokesman for Plaid pompously declared they were intolerant of intolerance and up with this sort of racism they would not put. Ms Al-Faifi is presumably repentant, has seen the error of her ways, likes Jews now and won’t be caught doing it again, etc.

The party may have learned its lesson from this but given the intellectual vacuousness of the standard politician I would not put money on it.

The moral of this is: there may be a welcome in the hillside these days but it’s reserved for the alien and the foreign. Plaid ought to rename themselves as The Party Of Wales But Not The Welsh.

suxcoverCurrente Calamo columnist, poet and writer Michael Blackburn lives in Lincolnshire. A Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Lincoln University (2005 – 2008), his poetry has appeared in numerous publications and anthologies over the years, including Being Alive (Bloodaxe) and Something Happens, Sometimes Here (Five Leaves Press). His most recent book is Albion Days (perennisperegrinator press). Sucks to Your Revolution is a collection of his Fortnightly columns.

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