Planet excerpts

Tariq Ali has been a pioneering figure in the international Left since the Vietnam War. He argues the case for radical independence for Wales in the struggle against austerity and war, and why the Left should vote to leave the EU. The interview took place in February 2016.

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In relation to the struggle against austerity and neoliberalism, what roles do you see – both actual and potential – for devolved nations such as Wales and political parties such as Plaid Cymru and the SNP?

Well, for political parties, it depends on their political programme obviously. In Scotland the SNP positioned itself to the left of the Labour Party – which it then cracked because it appeared as a credible alternative and had been fighting as such for years. After the independence referendum result had politicised the whole of Scotland, the SNP achieved a virtual monopoly on Scottish representation in the Westminster parliament.

Plaid Cymru hasn’t been able to do that, and it’s worthwhile asking why. I have not visited Wales as much as I’ve visited Scotland over the last three or four years but it seems to me that the hold of the Labour Party machine in Wales has not been broken in the same way. I cannot understand any other reason why it could be that many Welsh people do not see that radical independence is possible, but instead feel that the degree of limited autonomy currently enjoyed by the Welsh Assembly is all they can achieve. This pessimism is a bit of a mystery to me because I don’t think that Welsh Labour has a very happy record when it comes to fighting corruption. Certainly in the old days the Welsh Labour Party used to be incredibly corrupt – it was known as the ‘Taffia’ by lots of my Welsh comrades...

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