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Tuesday, August 12, 2003


Returned from a short break to Ireland to find the Welsh newspapers full of talk of a great Socialist gathering in Wrexham. The group of 70 or so individuals has been brought together by the Deputy Presiding Officer and Wrexham AM, John Marek. The leader of the Scottish Socialist Party, Tommy Sheridan, was invited to provide a radical edge. I have to admit that when I first read of this event my reaction was that John Marek is the most unlikely "red under the bed" that anybody could meet. Martin Shipton in the Western Mail summed it up the best by describing our DPO as "comfortable, naturally cautious rather than tub-thumping". John Marek is unconventional in many ways, but the most outward manifestation of his rebelliousness is not through unorthodox protest but in wearing open sandals with socks instead of shoes. He is the Bagpuss of the left - warm and fuzzy rather than hard and confrontational. As for the gathering itself, it seems that old habits amongst the left die hard. Every time I follow one of their gatherings I am reminded of the shambolic People's Popular Front in "The Life of Brian", who lost sight of their cause due to squabbling over irrelevancies.

The Wales Green Party returned to form with another opportunist press release challenging Marek to say whether he would nationalise Tesco's or not. The answer surely has to be that it depends whether Dame Shirley Porter is included in the package. However, shortly afterwards the press release was withdrawn allegedly because it was issued by a press officer without consultation. Since when did the Green Party become a faceless corporation in which one side did not know what the other was doing? The reality is of course that the Greens prefer to play wait-and-see, just in case the new force in Welsh politics becomes one worth jumping into bed with.

One final thought - the latest craze of "flash-mobbing" has hit Britain. This involves the gathering together of a large number of disparate people with no connection to each other by e-mail at a set time and venue for a short piece of performance art. A shoe store in Dublin saw 30 such people drawn to it over the weekend. They all shouted "cheese" and then dispersed. I am tempted of course to consider that the "Socialists" in Wrexham were doing the same thing. If they had all shouted "cheese" and then left would people have taken them more seriously?

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