The following report comes for Y Faner Goch, issues no 134 and 135
More than 300 people attended the three day
Stuff the Monarchy festival organised by Cymru Goch in Pontypridd’s Clwb y Bont over the Jubilee bank holiday. Those attending were a broad mix of republican, socialists and greens from across Wales and enjoyed a laid-back variety of debates, videos, music, poetry and drinking.
The event opened with a great speech by Alan McCombes of the Scottish Socialist Party. Alan spoke about the need for a Scottish Socialist Republic in his own country and the way the SSP was advancing that vision. He made it clear both during and after his talk that Welsh socialist republicans would be welcomed in future in Scotland.
The history of Welsh republicanism was explained in two separate sessions by Pedr Lewis and Tim Richards. Pedr outlined the history of the Welsh Republican Movement in the late 1940s and 1950s in a session that delighted many younger comrades and drew praise from IRSP speaker Terry Harkins.
The one notable absentee was Simon Brooks of Cymuned. He pulled out after the Welsh Mirror highlighted the fact that he was sharing a platform with an Irish republican socialist – which in the Mirror’s warped logic became the British leader of the INLA!
However, prominent Valleys socialist republican and member of Cymru Goch, Tim Richards, had his house raided and was charged before being given bail on condition he was banned from Trehafod where the Queen was going to visit! Tim went on to explain the reasons behind this.
Let’s not forget all police officers swear an oath of allegiance to the Queen and we were slagging off the monarchy. I think they were looking for an excuse to criminalise Welsh socialist republicans. The Special Branch is essentially political and its role is to monitor dissent, particularly socialists, greens, anarchists, anti-capitalists, etc. In my case they went one step further by trying to trump up a charge against me for political reasons but it has backfired badly on them.
The support has been great. My first worry was that it might affect my job, but support from my colleagues (Tim is an FE lecturer) has been 100%. In Abertridwr (Tim’s home village), once again the support has been magnificent and it has to be said that the political support has been surprisingly wide. One of the first people to support me was Dafydd Iwan and Welsh Assembly Members from Labour, Plaid Cymru and the Liberal-Democrats, anarchists, greens and so on have been marvellous. It shows that while not everyone might agree with my republican views they feel the police vendetta is a massive overreaction.
It is an interesting reflection on what the establishment perceives as a threat. Unfortunately, they feel quite secure against socialist politics, but less so when it comes to Welsh republicanism. The English establishment are not used to having their Queen criticised by us Welsh peasants. Cymru Goch led the anti-Jubilee protests in the UK and that was not to be tolerated.
The wider implications are that we are going through a dark period in civil liberties. Even before September 11th, New Labour had shown itself as an authoritarian party more interested in law and order than justice. Tony Blair’s government is holding a number of Moslems in prison without trial and has already deported people without any legal justification. Internment is a direct attack on the civil liberties of all of s.
When Tim’s case finally came to Merthyr Tydfil Crown Court, it was revealed that two undercover police officers had attended Cymru Goch’s Stuff the Monarchy festival posing as would-be demonstrators. Socialists and republicans rallied in support of Tim with large noisy pickets outside the court hearing. There was also a positive outcome with excellent public meetings in both Pontypridd and Wrecsam on the arrest and its wider implications for free speeech in the wake of the
war against terrorism.
After the case was dismissed, Tim said,
I am relieved that this farcical case has been dropped, but I am angry that it should have happened in the first place.
In addition the success of the Pontypridd republican festival has prompted Cymru Goch to make it an annual event for the Mayday weekend.