The europhile Cardiff Bay Cartel is still trapped in its Brexit doom loop

The europhile Cardiff Bay Cartel is still trapped in its Brexit doom loop

What I call the Cardiff Bay Cartel validates Karl Marx’s aphorism that history repeats itself ‘first as tragedy, then as farce’. From a standing start, the Brexit Party came first in 19 out of 22 Welsh local authorities at the recent European election, taking two thirds more votes across Wales than their nearest rival and winning half of Wales’ European seats. Welsh Labour was ‘slaughtered’ in their Valleys heartlands. And yet the Brexit denialists still whistle Ode to Joy as they cling to the receding vestiges of l’Europe des regions.

And ever since the results started emerging at 10pm that Sunday evening, the systemic politicians of Wales’ Remain establishment have claimed the European elections were a proxy for a second EU referendum that they ‘won’. Selectively adding up votes for ‘Remain’ and selectively discounting votes for ‘Leave’, the Cardiff condescendi manufacture biased percentages to better preserve the parallel universe their minds inhabit.

Former First Minister Carwyn Jones started early, boasting: “Remain parties will comfortably out-poll the Brexit Party in Wales tonight”. Welsh Health Minister Vaughan Gething tweeted: “Pro-referendum [and] Remain parties gained more votes than Leave parties”. And the Trinity Mirror Group-owned Western Mail claimed the vote share “of the parties favouring a second referendum was significantly higher at 42.4% in Wales than the parties favouring a hard Brexit who won only 35.8% between them.”

Through mathematical chicanery, Wales’ post-democratic Europhile elites pick and choose which election results are binding on them. In reality nobody outside their groupthink would suggest an election ‘we shouldn’t be having’ countermands Wales’ historic Brexit vote.

Welsh turnout in the EU’s Potemkin Parliament election was merely 37% compared to 72% at the 2016 EU referendum and 69% at the ‘Brexit General Election’ of 2017. It was lower than 2017 Welsh Council elections (42%) and the 2016 Senedd elections (45%). Predictably, it was higher in strong Remain areas as Welsh Leavers anticipating Brexit (having backed the winning side) felt less urgency to vote in elections of which they had no desire to be part.

Rational apathy and disillusionment were the strongest themes in these elections. The ‘proxy second referendum’ argument is an aggregation fallacy that wrongly frames a party political election as if it were a binary referendum. There is limited value in comparing votes for the Brexit Party and UKIP (36%) with support for the sweary Europhile Lib Dems, Greens and Change UK (23%). Yet reading into votes for Welsh Labour, Plaid Cymru and Welsh Conservatives is far harder because of their broader electoral coalitions.

The Remainist interpretation is that the 354,805 votes for Welsh Labour, Welsh Lib Dems, Plaid Cymru, Greens and Change UK are a proxy for Remain. Yet this is less than half (42%) of the 854,572 Welsh Leavers of 2016 and merely 27% of the 1,331,569 votes cast in the 2017 ‘Brexit General Election’ in Wales for Welsh Labour, Welsh Conservatives and UKIP – whose manifestos committed them to leaving the EU’s Single Market and Customs Union. It is a bad omen for Wales in Europe that no single lead ‘Remain’ party emerged in what was a ‘European’ election.

2019 is a symbolic year for the Welsh Labour hegemony. The party has now controlled devolved government for two decades and held a majority of Welsh constituencies since 1922. Yet the red oligarchs are now losing their grip on Wales after decades of taking its voters for granted. Welsh Labour is repudiating working-class Leavers like those in the ex-mining seat of Blaenau Gwent, where its vote crashed 23%. First Minister Mark Drakeford’s hard Remain vision for Wales has taken a shellacking as voters ranked his party first in only one of Wales’ 22 local authority areas.

Welsh Labour’s tin-foil-hat wearing, Area 51, Elvis-is-Alive, true believer European candidates told LabourList “the EU actually is democratic”, “the 2016 Referendum result can’t be implemented” and demanded “a referendum to break the deadlock”. Non-existent public knowledge of these EU dream dancers gives rise to the argument Welsh Labour bled votes for not being sufficiently anti-Brexit.

In The Spectator, Professor Roger Awan-Scully of the Wales Governance Centre attributes Labour’s ‘Welsh wipe-out’ in part to the ‘Cardiff Corbynistas’ diluting the ‘clear red water’ that maintained distance between Welsh Labour and the national leadership. The implication is Welsh Labour paid for speaking out of both sides of the mouth on Brexit. In this vein, Alun Davies – Assembly Member for 62% Leave-voting Blaenau Gwent – accused Drakeford of shadowing Jeremy Corbyn on “absolutely everything” and Lynne Neagle – AM for 61% Leave-voting Torfaen – demanded he “enthusiastically” campaigns for a so-called ‘People’s Vote’.

Drakeford has buckled, conceding the party’s messaging was ‘too complicated’. He is now unequivocally for a nullifying second referendum to stop Brexit and had the Welsh Assembly pass a motion calling for that earlier this week. Welsh Labour’s abandonment of its blue-collar base is a truly historic turning point. Wishful unthinking will not make disappear House of Commons estimates showing 53.44% of voters in Labour’s Welsh Assembly constituencies voted Leave (more than the 52.53% Leave vote across Wales).

May’s Welsh Political Barometer (YouGov for UTV/Cardiff University) found a majority (49%) opposed to a second referendum (nine points ahead of support for a Loser’s vote). And last year’s ComRes/Brexit Express poll found 61% in Leave-voting seats with a Welsh Labour MP think we should ‘respect the result’. Gadarening toward a second referendum, the Islington Labour Party in Wales doubles down on a negative that alienates working-class Leavers who backed their 2017 manifesto that said ‘Welsh Labour accepts the Referendum result’ and will ‘make Brexit work for Wales’.

Lord Mandelson arrogantly said ‘the thing about South Wales is that they have nowhere else to go’. Yet Nigel Farage now observes ‘in places like South Wales we picked up more votes from Labour’. Adam Price’s Plaid Cymru has enjoyed beating Welsh Labour for the first time even though they polled ten percentage points below what they achieved under Dafydd Wigley in 1999. Despite representing the 53% Leave-voting Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, Price said Wales’ Brexit vote “was the right answer to the wrong question”, “Brexit cannot be considered the settled will of the people” and Wales is a “Remain nation”. In recognition, Gina Miller’s ‘Remain United’ designated Plaid Cymru the lead Remain Party in Wales.

In reality, Welsh Wales rejected his vision of a nation trapped in Brussels’ orbit like a dead moon. Eight of the ten most Welsh-speaking local authority areas (2011 Census) voted Leave in 2016 and placed the Brexit Party in first place earlier this month – including in Price’s own Carmarthenshire. The House of Commons Library’s EU Referendum constituency estimates show on average 49% of voters in Plaid Cymru’s Senedd seats voted Leave. Indeed, 40% of Plaid voters told the 30th June – 4th July 2016 Welsh Political Barometer they voted Leave.

When former Plaid Leader Leanne Wood shares a cartoon of a figure in EU flag arm-wrestling a swastika over a ballot box, comparing Brexiteers to Nazis, and a prominent Twitter NatBot calls Leavers in ‘Brexity’ Blaenau Gwent ‘morlocks’, there is the unmistakable whiff of what Julie Burchill termed ‘two nations xenephobia’. Yet it is Brexiting Wales that they are insulting. On the twentieth anniversary of devolution they should not forget Wales’ 854,572 Leavers outnumbered ‘Yes’ voters in the devolution referendums of 1979, 1997 and 2011 and voters for anything in a Welsh election since 1997.

The Welsh Leave majority was more than nine times that secured by the Yes campaign in the 1997 devolution referendum. In 2016, 2017 and 2019 the Welsh Brexitlands drop-kicked their failing devolved governing class, sending a clear instruction to the CF99 postcode bubble to take back control. Yet Welsh Labour, Plaid Cymru and Welsh Lib Dem politicians of power – the political arm of the European project in Wales – have still not made their peace with the people. Despite them, the Brexit nation will keep dreaming of those valleys of opportunity Wales voted for as we Leave the EU.