Mike Davies reports on Welsh Republicans’ preparations for the Royal Visit: Jiwbili ych a fi!
Welsh Socialist Republicans have been at the forefront in building a coalition against the Queen’s Jubilee Jamboree in June. Cymru Goch, Earth First! activists, leading trade unionists and socialists have come together to form an ad hoc group called Stuff the Monarchy to oppose the event.
The weekend of the official celebrations will see a Republican Festival in a Welsh social club called Clwb y Bont, Pontypridd, which has been declared a people’s republic for the duration of the weekend. It’s going to be a vibrant exchange of ideas, debate, music, poetry and videos from struggles around Wales and the world. Speakers include socialist republicans from Scotland and Ireland as well as anti-globalisation campaigners, community activists, trade union militants and direct actionist greens.
The weekend will also be the final chance for campaigners opposing the Queen’s visit to Wales on June 11-13 to get organised. The Festival will also be an informal meeting place for like minded socialists committed to national liberation. We see this as a chance to break with the stale electoralism of the Welsh Socialist Alliance and build a real alliance of socialists, direct action campaigners, trade union militants and community activists who have not been enthused by the lukewarm reformism of the current WSA.
The traditions of republican resistance to the monarchy are well established in Wales. The traditional method for the monarchy to win over the rebellious Welsh was a subtle thing called the Investiture of the Prince of Wales. This imposition first happened soon after military conquest and was repeated whenever the natives got restless. In 1911 and most recently in 1969, there were protests from radicals opposed to British rule in Wales. This very crude symbol of Wales’ annexation by England (no-one seems to remember needing a referendum for that one) remains a live possibility for when Queenie pops off and Charles finally gets a day job. It’s possible that William will be made Prince of Wales, but much will depend on the kind of reception the royals get on their tour of Wales.
Our Stuff the Monarchy campaign isn’t just about the Jubilee – it’s about ensuring that Charles is the last Prince of Wales and urging his Divestiture. It will continue beyond the Jubilee frenzy being whipped up by the Palace media machine and loyal newspapers. They have a steep climb to convince an apathetic population – and a hostile youth – that Royalty means anything to Wales.
There are interesting developments beyond the orthodox (i.e. Brit) left – a new radical language movement called Cymuned (Community) has sprung up in Y Fro Gymraeg (the Welsh-speaking heartlands) with 1100 members in just 10 months. Its recent conference placed it firmly in the camp of non-violent civil disobedience with a commitment to oppose colonialism and racism. It stands up for the rights of a community – the Welsh language community of 500,000 people and specifically the 300,000 or so who live in majority Welsh speaking areas in the West – to exist. It pits that right against the right of an individual and freemarket forces to destroy a fragile community and culture. In these areas at least, it is becoming a mass movement against speculative housing developments that are far beyond the reach of low-paid young local people.
Similarly, campaigners against waste incinerators and further opencast mining in some our most deprived communities are taking new and novel forms of direct action and lobbying to get their message across. All are being ignored by the mainstream political parties.
These new movements are part of a trend against capitalist party politics, against globalisation and for an imaginative rethink on who controls our communities and world. The trend towards direct action rather than electoral success underlines the common consensus that if you vote for Tweedledee or Tweedledum, you end up with Tweedledummer.
Welsh Socialist Republicans who are casting off the tired old orthodoxies of the British left are well placed to take their part in this new alliance of rebel forces.