An extraordinary civil war which has erupted inside Wales’ independence organisation, shines the spotlight on how The Eye revealed that it has already been engulfed by earlier controversies.
The ‘Central Committee’ (CC) of the contentious Welsh independence movement Yes Cymru (YC), has been torn apart by internal strife, and the senior member who has recently been suspended from it, eminent clinical psychologist Dilys Davies, suffered enormous abuse online (having to ‘protect’ her Twitter account) after making headline-grabbing remarks in a so-called ‘transphobia row’.
Dr Davies endured the attacks from certain supporters of Welsh independence, after quoting the famous feminist Germaine Greer, who has said publicly that even following gender re-alighnment surgery, a person is not fully a woman, because puberty, periods, childbirth, and the menopause have not been experienced.
It has been reported that Dr Davies is now under YC investigation for alleged transphobia and homophobia.
She is a consultant psychologist who specialises in sleep difficulties, and recently bought the famous Cofiwch Dryweryn memorial wall on the A487 near Llanrhystud.
There is a major split in YC, with Dr Davies and her supporters on one side, while several others form the other – and this division has been underlined by the abusive comments today, with many people now blocked from seeing her social media messages.
Her Twitter account says: “Only approved followers can see @DilysDavies’s Tweets”.
In one camp in the civil war, is those who support the concept of Welsh independence as a left-of-centre project; while making up the opposition are those who believe the primary aim should be that Wales becomes an independent state, with the row now over transgenderism at the heart of current problems.
Mr Marshall proclaims that he is responsible for “Digital development” at TN in the masthead of his Twitter page, but the newspaper he works for, (TN), is at the centre of a storm of controversy over its neutrality, and there have been attacks online about the nature of its financial backing.
It has also been condemned by one reader as a “nationalist propaganda sheet”, while records at Companies House reveal that Mr Marshall is, too, director of a dormant company.
Meanwhile reports of the suspension of Dr Davies, have included details that Mr Marshall’s ally, Mr Williams, has been barred from land that she owns in Ceredigion which has replicas of the memorial wall on it.
It is clear that Mr Williams, like Mr Marshall, holds extremely trenchant views about Welsh independence.
Speaking on the Welsh-language S4C debate programe Pawb a’i Farn last year, he said: “The new members we have, they’re not the nationalists you would expect. They don’t wave flags, they’re not members of (Welsh nationalist party) Plaid Cymru a lot of them. A lot of them are people who would feel more comfortable in the Labour Party.
“We’ve seen Wales going its own way and doing a much better job with much clearer messaging than we’ve had from the UK Government. That’s something that a lot of people have told me recently. It isn’t possible to reform the UK – it’s over.”
But past controversies brought out by The Eye about YC, are unlikely to be over soon.
The Twitter account of a controversial YC message has announced that at one point it had 487 ‘likes’ and 187 ‘retweets’, but when these were counted the figures were actually just 45 and 70 respectively.
Our journalists have revealed how the man in charge of the organisation, Sion Jobbins, publicly declared he wishes Germany had won World War One, ironically proclaimed “Stalin had no choice”, and questioned the fight against Hitler.
In another remark on Twitter, Mr Jobbins queried the Kindertransport which helped 10,000 children escape the Nazis and said: “… it wasn’t some amazing act of humanity”. A further message was: “Why was it good for UK to fight against being colonised by Hitler..?”.
Those below him in the group have also hit the headlines.
We showed how a branch of the movement asked provocatively whether “heroes” will make a stand in carrying out an attack on a UK military base on Anglesey. The goading remark came on Twitter from YC in Ruthin, and referred to a notorious incident in 1936 when an RAF bombing school was set ablaze at Penyberth on the Llyn peninsula, and founding members of PC were jailed. The event has gone down in folklore for Welsh nationalists and a video on YouTube declares: “Penyberth. Plaid Cymru (Welsh nationalist party) one. RAF nil.”
Another branch of YC has said people in “our country” (Wales) refuse to integrate, and asked menacingly what should be ‘done’ about Unionists. This extraordinary tweet was put out by YC in the Afan Valley and stated: “These people are in our country, yet refuse to integrate into our local community”.
A major supporter of YC also holds highly dubious views which he has publicised on social media. Mark Wells/Gareth Mark Welsby claims to be the inventor of the YC ‘app’ and has urged holding a debate about banning gay people from Wales. He wrote in one tweet: “With all this talk about quarantine. I’m serious… Shouldn’t we be discussing banning gay people from Wales. Esp. (gay ex-Welsh rugby international) Gareth Thomas who should resign!! Hiv will spread into Wales’ blood groups inc. Rh+ and our reputation for positive blood ruined. aids infected are negative people”.
YC faces, as well, a number of other serious challenges.
A member of the Welsh independence organisation, shared a message saying Zionism was racist from a former Labour MP who had been suspended for criticising an anti-Semitism investigation, after it announced she was to be investigated over allegations she held the same views.
Kerry-Anne Mendoza ‘retweeted’ the comment from Chris Williamson writing: “The truth is Zionism is a racist, warmongering, supremacist ideology. We need to stand together to defeat it wherever it exists, because it’s the enemy of peace”. In the same tweet Mr Williamson had said Leila Khaled was ‘eloquent’, but the Wales Against Anti-Semitism (WAAS) movement then stated online: “Why is @YesCymru’s Kerry Ann Mendoza retweeting Chris Williamson’s glorification of a convicted terrorist?”. The message was also sent to the Board of Deputies of British Jews, as well as several well known mainstrem journalists.
Ms Khaled was a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), and came to public attention for her role in the TWA hijacking in 1969, and one of the four simultaneous hijackings the following year. They were part of the campaign of Black September in Jordan.
But Ms Mendoza, as well as the movement she joined (YC), have hit the headlines before. Our journalists disclosed how YC had announced it was to launch an inquiry into the alleged anti-Semitism of Ms Mendoza, after she had tweeted the phrase Arbeit Macht Frei (Work Sets You Free) which was emblazoned above the gates to Auschwitz.
In August Ms Mendoza wrote: “Get Brexit done Build, build, build, Jobs, jobs, jobs Arbeit macht frei”. But six months later the chair of YC, Mr Jobbins, said: “We will be discussing the matter (her alleged anti-Semitism generally) as a committee in conjunction with our new diversity and inclusion lead officer who will be starting work for us on Monday (February 15)“.
Ms Mendoza joined YC in the Autumn, shortly after moving to Wales from her home city of Bristol, and her account tweeted news of her membership to its 59,000 followers. Former Cardiff Council leader, the Liberal Democrats’ Welsh Parliament/Senedd Cymru (WP/SC) candidate for Cardiff Central Rodney Berman said of her joining YC: “The decision to admit and then publicly welcome this individual raises serious questions regarding the priorities and values of YesCymru. Quite frankly, it’s appalling”.
She is the Editor of the left-wing website The Canary, but was suspended briefly from Twitter following complaints about another post in which she compared those attending the Jewish Labour Movement’s conference to “white supremacists”. After the then Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s defeat at the polls in December 2019, she suggested that those who opposed Labour over anti-Semitism would be attacked.
Ms Mendoza also accused (Jewish) writer and columnist Jonathan Freedland of “manufacturing” the 2019 General Election result. In January 2020 she claimed celebrations over the completion of Brexit could turn into a “21st century Kristallnacht”. When the Jewish Chronicle (JC) raised concerns about Ms Mendoza’s appearance at a Labour party meeting, she tweeted: “Black woman can’t talk about racism, says white man”.
Ms Mendoza has also appeared more than once on the controversial state-backed television station, Russia Today (RT) which is accused of being a mouthpiece of the autocratic Russian leader Vladimir Putin, and has played host to the conspiracy theorist in Wales, Anna Brees. For the programme On Contact, Ms Mendoza said she wanted an “alternative media”. She was interviewed, too, by Max Keiser on his RT show The Keiser Report, and declared that austerity is a “fig leaf” designed to conceal aggressive neoliberal policies.
Even after all of this past history, YC has labelled her a “rock star” in a tweet which was ‘liked’ numerous times by several vocal and high-profile activists.
Meanwhile, the organisation she joined declared in a tweet which has now been deleted that “Open assaults (interesting words to chose in the context of what has happened) on Welsh democracy have led to (its) remarkable growth”, linking the comment to an article in the Herald.Wales by the MP for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, Jonathan Edwards, who accepted a police caution after attacking his wife.
But critics were unamused. One stated online: “It’s infuriating. Yes Cymru are doing so much very well, then they just undermine all the good stuff with unnecessary stupidity/lack of sensitivity. They have the money to hire people now to do a better job”. Another announced: “I’ve got very mixed feelings about the MP in question but the timing of YC is absolutely mad. Are they thick? Why do they keep making mistakes like these? They need to start having people who know what they’re doing.”
A further comment was: “In (sic) going to say it AGAIN because it is DOING MY HEAD IN, why does Jonathan Edwards, who admitted he was GUILTY OF ASSAULTING HIS WIFE, still have influence in Plaid Cymru and @YesCymru? And why has the latter PLATFORMED HIM TODAY AFTER THE WEEK WE HAVE ALL JUST HAD?”
Plaid Cymru (PC) suspended Mr Edwards for a year in July following the attack, meaning he must sit as an independent MP until at least 2021, and a disciplinary panel ruled that any lifting of the suspension depended upon the MP demonstrating “he has undertaken a period of self-reflection and learning to address his actions”.
Even so, PC has been accused of continuing a “close relationship” with him, after it emerged that he had campaigned with PC councillors and used the same adviser as the party leader, following the suspension. Rob James, leader of Carmarthenshire County Council’s (CCC) Labourgroup, raised “serious doubts” about the nature of the suspension, saying that it was just a “PR stunt”.
Yet this is not the first time YC has hit the headlines, and perhaps recently releasing a sexist video in support of its cause (which was again deleted) is one of the ‘mistakes’ being referred to in the online complaint. In January the organisation released the video promoting Welsh independence which featured a pair of cartoon women’s legs in stockings, and one critic on social media said: “fire the pig that designed it”. It displayed the cartoon of a woman wearing stockings and red arms, with a map of Wales for her body and screaming “YEEEEEEEEEEES”in the caption below.
But it was slammed on Twitter, with one critic saying: “I find it astonishing – and cowardly – that @YesCymru have merely deleted that sexist, appalling video from last night and not acknowledged the disgust felt by their membership and apologised for the offence caused, not to mention the damage sustained to the campaign”. Another said in reply to YC: “Never mind the booklet, burn that fucking sexist animation and fire the pig that designed it”.
The fierce row also came hard on the heels of it being divulged on The Eye that other splits were emerging in YC (apart from those over gender reallignment), with an angry supporter tweeting that he had cancelled his membership, while another showed his fury after claiming the group had ‘liked’ a tweet from a right wing party, which it had also re-tweeted.
The group has, though, often made the news for the wrong reasons, and appears to be offering highly questionable information. YC has claimed that opinion polls report support for Welsh independence among younger people is “around 40-50 %” saying: “Independence is becoming common sense view within young people in Wales.”.
The truth is that recent opinion polls suggest the figure among younger people is far lower than this, and also make clear that the vast majority of people in Wales support Welsh parties which are opposed to independence.
But it seems the whole concept of Welsh independence is problematic, as shown by the astonishing civil war inside Wales’ independence organisation, which puts centre stage how The Eye revealed that it has already been embroiled in other controversies…
Tomorrow – on election day, our Editor Phil Parry, stresses the importance of political balance, with one Welsh ‘news’ website displaying the logo of an opposition party on its title page.
The memories of Phil’s remarkable decades-long award-winning career in journalism (when proper investigations followed his disclosures) as he was gripped by the rare disabling condition Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP), have been released in a major book ‘A GOOD STORY’. Order the book now!