Welsh Lib Dems’ Leadership: Liz Evans writes…We must offer a positive alternative to nationalism

Changing our constitution is recognition of where we currently are as a Welsh party; a brave, necessary and ultimately exciting step. My name is Liz Evans, I’m a County Councillor for Ceredigion, an intrepid campaigner and committed liberal! So here we are, two Welsh speaking women from the coast and countryside of Wales; campaigning colleagues looking to be the next Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader – how amazing is that!

Be in no doubt that Welsh politics is the poorer without Welsh Liberal Democrat parliamentarians, both in the Welsh Assembly and Westminster. Yet this is the reality check. The last eighteen months has been the stuff of nightmares; four of our five Assembly members gone; talented Councillors gone and losing the seat of my close friend and colleague Mark Williams was devastating. Having ran his office for nine years the principles of liberal democracy were at the heart of everything we did.

Secretary of Education Kirsty Williams is improving and developing education in Wales and delivering on our manifesto commitments as part of the progressive agreement with Welsh Government including 20,000 new homes; prioritising links between education and industry; the establishment of a Wales Development Bank to help people set up business and grow existing businesses; extra money to help schools support teenagers with mental health problems and where mental health discrimination is ended. That’s not bad going for one Liberal Democrat in government!

I am rooted to this party and I care deeply about its future direction. I am a proud European, a  devolutionist to the core and I am ambitious for Wales. I also recognise that the Welsh Liberal Democrats have an identity problem.

We are the party of home rule, radical liberalism and social democracy. We are outward looking, British, European and truly internationalist. Yet we see a growing warmth towards nationalism in Wales and we must offer a clear, positive alternative. We are the antidote to nationalism and the champions of self determination and we need the people of Wales to know.

Our policies reflect our ambition, from health and social care; transport and setting a target of zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The Welsh Liberal Democrats have the exciting, progressive policies that offer fairness and opportunity. Across the UK, Liberal Democrats are campaigning against Brexit and the unquantifiable impact it will have on our lives.

Like us all, I am an expert envelope stuffer, leaflet dropper and canvasser. I understand the importance of working with our volunteers, they are at the heart of this party and a Leader must listen, respect and motivate our grassroots members because they matter. We need to start winning elections again with a clear vision and prioritising policies; with a party infrastructure which works and a no-nonsense leadership, from the bottom up, we can win! Working with the Federal party is essential yet we must also learn to row our own boat as we re-build this wonderful, bruised party. The Welsh Liberal Democrats are nothing if not resilient!

* Liz Evans is a County Councillor in Ceredigion and is a candidate for Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats

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10 Comments

  • Hi Liz, great to see you’re up for a positive campaign, best of luck! I’d love to know your views on how we’d marry those excellent aims of championing a right to self-determination, with being a nationalist antidote. Our friends at Plaid would surely suggest that self determination and nationalism go hand in hand?

  • “We are … British… We are the antidote to nationalism.”

    Whether you like it or not, British nationalism is still nationalism and, like Spanish nationalism, it is an illiberal and imperialist form of nationalism that has a long history of opposing self-determination, often violently.

  • Nom de Plume 18th Oct '17 - 6:55pm

    @ Al

    British as an adjective is a cultural marker. It is something to be proud of. Nationalism was tried in the first half of the 20th century. It does not work. This is distinct from the nation state. A definition of terms would help. The days of empire are long gone.

  • “Yet we see a growing warmth towards nationalism in Wales and we must offer a clear, positive alternative.”

    I struggle with this idea, I must admit. To me we should be defining nationalism as wanting Wales to be the best it can be (not better than other nations or better by taking away from foreign individuals as UKIP or the very worst of nationalism would have it) and if we were to define what the very best Wales can be it would outward looking, creating fair opportunity and liberal in all other ways too. I also struggle with it because far too often I feel the lib dems fail the Celtic nations, especially Wales, in treating us a region rather than an independent nation within this union.

    Good luck with the campaign. As you pointed out, Wales definitely needs a strong liberal voice.

  • Matthew Severn 19th Oct '17 - 10:19am

    Welsh lib dems need an honest conversation with themselves and Wales about why they went from 4 MPs and 6 AMs to zero & 1 respectively in 10 years.

  • @ Matthew Severn “Welsh lib dems need an honest conversation with themselves and Wales about why they went from 4 MPs and 6 AMs to zero & 1 respectively in 10 years.”

    Matthew, I suggest the root answer to your question lies more in a London rose garden in SW1 than in Cardiff, Brecon, Aberystwyth or Montgomery.

  • Indeed David, with the exception of Montgomeryshire which went with Lembit’s idiosyncrasies in 2010 and not in the coalition fiasco.

  • Oh Yes and Mick Bates AM’s idiosyncrasies in 2011. Truly a double disaster.

    But Matt is also right, the Welsh do have to answer that question, just as the UK party do – particularly from the viewpoint of why did not a single senior MP, Lord or whatever do anything to stop it?

  • Coalition had a huge impact on us in Wales, but I do think to suggest it as the root cause of our decline would be a little simplistic. What it did more than anything was to expose several pre-existing weaknesses in party strategy, purpose and infrastructure that we’ve yet to really attempt to address.

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