THE day I met Carmarthen MP Jonathan Edwards, the Red Arrows – which he feels are a waste of money – were proving a force to be reckoned with.The Red Arrows issue has garnered him a bit of UK-wide publicity but the interview for me is interesting on another level:
"I've come down here on holiday but I've spent the entire day giving interviews," he says from his parents' caravan in Newport. "But how can you let something like that go? Nine million pounds is being spent on what is, in effect, a display unit while cuts are being made in the military left, right and centre, including artillery guns and tanks."
"This is what brought me to politics way back in the 1980s," he explains. "I was brought up in a highly political family" (his county councillor father John was a Trade Union shop steward for the Electricians' Union the AEEU), "and this opened my eyes to the importance of social justice amongst the working class. My father had always come from the left of the political spectrum but the Kinnock years made him change track. He couldn't bear to see the Labour party turning into a centre right party and so my father became Plaid."This man is seriously left-wing (even to the extent of quoting favourably from Trotsky later on!), the kind of cannon-fodder Labour exploited in not only Wales, but also Scotland and Northern England for decades.
But the fact that Labour was regarded as the most effective party of opposition to the potential "London"(sic) Conservative Government is blithely ignored in his explanation as to why the General Election proved ultimately unsuccessful for Plaid Cymru:
We expected to make gains in the last election but this didn't materialise. This was mainly because it was a very UK based election where voters were more concerned about who smiled the most in the TV leadership debates rather than the policies they were coming out with. This naturally made things very difficult for Plaid Cymru.Nothing to do with the fact people realised your party's MPs, most probably, would have next to no input into how your part of the UK was governed then?
The underlining element in a strong political party is how that party justifies its existencePlaid Cymru previously could partly justify their existence to electorate by setting themselves up as the main opposition to Labour (both the local and UK-wide version). Now, with the changes at Westminster, that justification obviously no longer applies because Labour in both Scotland and Wales has taken over the role of official opposition to Big Bad London; Salmond seems to be subtly repositioning the SNP to cope with the changing situation, Plaid Cymru don't appear to have even realised yet they need to.