New Nation is Nova Cambria’s journal.
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Renewal vital for Welsh democracy
The launch and title of this journal is a declaration that our country desperately needs renewal. For a century Wales has been in the grip of a one party state. And in the twenty years since the coming of democratic devolution, just one party has remained in charge, only alleviated by two periods of coalition politics in which the same party was the leading partner. There has to be a choice and a possibility of change otherwise our fledgling political institutions will wither. If the Welsh people come to believe that whichever way they vote in Senedd elections there is only one outcome, then democracy itself will be undermined.
There are economic consequences as well because Wales is going backwards. Our latest figure for income per head in Wales compared with the UK average is 72.5 per cent. Twenty years ago it was 75 per cent. Labourism has sucked the oxygen out of attempts to renew life in Wales. It is not democratic socialism or even social democracy that has been ruling our lives. Rather it has been a cloak of warm mediocrity that has been extinguishing any spark of individuality and creativity. In some ways the Welsh Labour state is the worst of all possible worlds, a sort of weak managerialism that blends old-fashioned command and control with incompetence.
Worst of all it is accompanied by a begging bowl mentality that sees no alternative to Wales being forever dependent on hand-outs from Whitehall. To cut through this under-achieving, complacent and unambitious culture, we need bracing new ideas. We need a debate that is outward facing, non-sectarian and cross-party.
New Nation is being published by the recently established think tank Nova Cambria. Left and Plaid leaning to be sure, it has nevertheless been deliberately created as a separate, autonomous organisation to enable it to engage with a wide range of political views across Wales and beyond. This will be reflected in the journal’s subject matter and contributors. As far as Plaid is concerned Nova Cambria will be a critical friend.
The launch of New Nation is also a deliberate attempt to inject greater intellectual heft into Plaid’s own efforts at renewal. To win elections parties need to develop the best and most innovative policies. This has been demonstrated in Plaid’s history. The emergence of the New Nation Group, led by Emrys Roberts in the early 1960s, was an essential part of the background to the party’s landmark votes in by-elections in the Valleys later in the decade, in the Rhondda in 1967, and Caerphilly in 1968.
The publication of Plaid’s National Plan in 1970, authored by Phil Williams, Dafydd Wigley and others, provided the platform for the party’s surge in the 1970s. In the 1980s the party’s relevance during the miner’s strike was boosted by the group that formed around Gwyn Alf Williams and the publication Radical Wales. In the 1990s, led by Cynog Dafis, Plaid embraced the Green movement. The resulting demonstration that decentralisation was key to combatting climate change as well as promoting democracy within the European Union, formed the background for the party’s breakthrough in the first Senedd election in 1999.
The message from this history is that new ideas and new thinking will be essential in providing the foundation for Plaid to enter government following the election in 2021. Therein will be New Nation’s contribution.
Contents of the inaugural issue:
New Nation No 1 Spring 2019
Editorial: Renewal Vital for Welsh Democracy
Plaid should project an all-Wales image – recommendations of the Angus Robertson report
Steffan Lewis: Obituary
Angharad Mair: Adam Price’s vocation for leadership
Ben O’Keeffe: Unusual channels
Rhun ap Iorwerth: A lone ranger in the Senedd
Liz Saville Roberts: Putting women on the radar
Leanne Wood calls time on sexual harassment
John Osmond assesses whether the new First Minister’s period in office will result in new departures or more of the same
Gerry Holtham recommends ways to improve strategic policy delivery at the top of the Welsh Government
Eurfyl ap Gwilym on tackling the Welsh productivity gap
Siân Gwenllian questions the effectiveness of the Welsh Government’s forthcoming curriculum legislation
Helen Mary Jones proposes an agenda to bring health and social care binto the 21st Century
Grenville Ham says citizen-controlled energy is vital to ensure environmental sustainability
Peter Finch reflects on a visit to Porth
Fflur Arwel challenges the gatekeepers of Welsh history
Angela Graham considers what the Welsh experience of linguistic politics has to offer Northern Ireland
Patrick Mcguinness: The boiling frog