Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Time To Say Goodbye

Well it's been a fun-filled fortnight for me. Not often does politics bring such laughter but Aneurin Glyndwr managed to do just that for this old gal. But all good things must come to an end and my time writing this blog is over. As any ex-readers of Amlwch to Magor know I am no longer living in Wales, at least not until this winter. My month back with friends and family clashed with Aneurin Glyndwr's launch and enabled me to have this bit of fun, but I'm flying back to the husband and kids for Easter and will not be able to give Owain Bevan, or the world of Welsh politics, the attention they need from abroad.

My brief return to the Welsh blogosphere has been entertaining. Many of the blogs I regularly read just months ago have disappeared, but the majority remains and there's even a couple of new ones showing the evolution of our blogosphere. With only one national newspaper there is a huge gap in reporting of politics in Wales. While practically no-one reads blogs in the wider world it's still important to ensure a vibrant blogoshere. I hope that when I return next year I'll find all my favorite bogs still working hard.

The amateurness of the Aneurin Glyndwr project is beyond belief and I've found myself wondering on so many occasions just what exactly Peter Hain, Eluned Morgan and co were thinking? How could they have possibly, even for a fleeting moment, thought that this was a good idea I don't know.

Organised attack politics is a format perfected in the USA but still relatively rare in the UK. Yes our politicians will often spend time slagging off their opponents but American-style attack politics is different. If you're going to dip your hand in such things then you have to be very careful. The first rule is to try and have some degree of separation between party and attacker. An attack campaign openly promoted by a political party is nearly always destined to fail. People will either write it off as "politician slagging each other off" or simply highlight the hypocrisy when the attacking party are open to the exact same attack. The second rule, in the UK at least, is to tone it down. Blatant constant attacks will do nothing to convince the electorate. You need a bit of subtlety and some wit to pull off a good attack site. Aneurin Glyndwr failed both these tests, and that's why it became the national joke it did.

What's bizarre is that Welsh Labour KNOW this. After all they have history in such matters. This is the third time Welsh Labour, or their supporters, have tried the attacking route. We all know the history of Natwatch (that's the website David Taylor had nothing to do with...) whose brief, ugly appearance led to the sacking of two public workers. The website managed little else, it didn't win Labour any vote and didn't cost the other parties any votes. The probable reason for this is that it failed the second test, it was simply too nasty and petty to be taken seriously.

The one successful attempt at attack politics made by New Labour was the Welsh Mirror. Through their puppet Paul Starling, Labour successfully managed to shake off their troubles of 1999 and turn Plaid's image in some parts of Wales into that of a demon. They tried, and for a while succeeded, to turn English speaking Wales against Welsh speaking Wales. It got them electoral gain in 2003 but its legacy has not been good for Labour. We all now of Rhodri Morgan's concerns about Labour being wiped out of Welsh-speaking Wales in 2007 - the reasons for that wipeout are numerous, but it can all be traced back to the Welsh Mirror.

Having brought embarrassment to their party, and having faced the wrath of their leading politicians (Peter Hain thankfully no longer qualifying as a leading politician) and seeing their pet project disowned by the First Minister it can't have been a good fortnight for Peter, Eluned, Alun and David. Plaid supporters in particular have seized on the moment and have had a few good laughs out of the whole thing. Eluned Morgan's chances of becoming the next First Minister are probably over, how easy would it be for any opponent (Labour or otherwise) to stick the knife in by recalling Delilah! So I guess all I can tell Peter and his crew is "better luck next time".

Although I won't be here to keep Aneurin in check, I hope the rest of the Welsh blogs will continue to do the same with whatever Welsh Labour's next attempt to "seize" the Internet will be. As for me, I'll fly off happy that Labour's amateurish attempt at Internet domination has been "taken apart" by little old Owain (Thanks Martin Shipton!)

See you soon.