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An astonishing letter to members of Wales’ biggest independence group warns of “Organisational and Accountability Failure”, that there has been “No financial oversight”, as well as a “Lack of transparency”, The Eye can reveal.
The remarkable warning message on headed notepaper to all branches of YesCymru (YC), declares there is alarm that the first ‘National Council’ was held at the weekend after two years, when “Article 70(c) of the Constitution requires that they are held every 6 months”.
The incredible communication continues: “a number of potentially serious breaches of the Constitution and YesCymru’s Code of Conduct for Central Committee (the governing body) members are now also the subject of independent legal action”.
It ends with a clarion call for something to be done: “We …call to action all members and groups who value YesCymru to support the call for a change to the leadership and structure of YesCymru to make it fighting fit for the tough road ahead”.
But this has not been the only controversy to have engulfed YC, and our journalists have been alone in reporting what is happening.
There have also been stunning accusations on social media that members of the governing committee have been ‘forced out’, and that there has been “bullying & harassment”.
These comments highlight an earlier unbelievable statement by YC, headlined “WE WILL NOT TOLERATE INTOLERANCE”, and the shock resignation of its founder, as well as how for many it is now in complete disarray over an extraordinary internal battle, with one supporter tweeting that there is “fear for the movement”.
The remarks fall into a familiar pattern, as the astounding battle has raged within YC and the wider nationalist communities over transgenderism, with The Eye seeing a growing chorus of furious complaints on Twitter and Facebook, apparently showing that these ‘families’ are being torn apart. One supporter has written: “…you’ve pulled an EGM and forced the committee out..”, and another declared that there had been a “lack of condemnation for bullying & harassment, etc…”.
The ‘intolerance’ statement by YC announced that: “We on the Central Committee (the body’s governing authority) have been made aware of online behaviour that needed immediate action. As a result, we have reported these instances to the police and to the relevant online platforms while we investigate further”.
The amazing civil war also puts centre stage an anodyne ‘interview’ with the creator of YC, Sion Jobbins (who has since resigned citing ‘ill health’), by an ITV Cymru Wales reporter.
The earlier ‘report’ by Ellie Pitt (who has been given the health brief by the broadcaster) began: “‘Westminster isn’t working for Wales’. These are the five words I have been hearing all week. Over the last few days I have had numerous conversations with recent joiners to the Welsh Independence group YesCymru.”
It went on: “Siôn Jobbins, Chair of YesCymru (says): ‘Wales isn’t poor, there are poor people here, but the country itself isn’t poor’”.
But these latest events also underline other recent unwelcome headlines about YC. Exclusive research by us, shows that most of the nationalist and independence communities in Wales, appear to be affected by this fight concerning transgenderism. A critic on one side of the fierce battle wrote in a new Welsh nationalist newspaper, The National (TN): “Over the past year I have watched with increasing horror as the welsh independence movement has been embroiled in a bitter debate over the issues of transgender rights”. A member of YC, seemingly on the same side, said online: “Sadly, at least one of those targeted has resigned from the Central Committee. It’s possible there will be an Extraordinary General Meeting, or new elections to replace vacant positions”.
A supporter of this critic stated that YC had been “poisoned“, while another detractor replied to him that he was “appalled” by the “narrow-minded and hateful” behaviour of members, and that “Once the CC (Central Committee) have got their house in order then I will subscribe again”.
Worries have also been expressed about the oversight in the group, with another backer of YC announcing online: “So Chair, Secretary and a portfolio position all VACANT. There is surely no way the CC (Central Committee) can be operating with the correct level of scrutiny. Oh and there’s that other one who said she’s on strike”. Mr Jobbins was one of the three founders of YC and took over as Chair in 2018. He claims he has resigned on private grounds, but many commentators refuse to believe this, and say it has left YC ‘in complete chaos’. “I’m stepping down purely for personal reasons – because of my health”, Mr Jobbins told the taxpayer-supported NC.
The Eye have reported how the conflict has blown apart the nationalist and independence factions in Wales, with numerous figures in YC taking to social media to reveal what they have suffered, as the furious row has erupted. Many are now saying they have cancelled their membership, and one has written on Twitter: “@yescymru are heading into dangerous waters, many of us belong to political parties who have stood with @yescymru on the same platform for independence, and would not desire to be tarnished by association”.
A further critic admitted in one Tweet “we are in the middle of a culture war…” and also online wrote: “I have decided to open up about my recent experience on the YesCymru Central Committee. In Jan ‘21, I wrote & presented a document to the CC (Central Committee) on the urgent need to modernise the governance, transparency and oversight of the CC (Central Committee). It is on record & minuted. It was largely ignored”. He added: “‘I’ve witnessed harassment aimed at high profiled YC members by an interconnected group of ID political activists within YC with links to political organisations outside of YC. “‘Transphobe! TERF! (Trans-exclusionary Radical Feminist) Fascist! These are the derogatory words used against decent and YesCymru members’”.
A backer of Welsh independence, who has become disillusioned with YC, said recently on Twitter: “Thank you for all your support but the constant hounding by Yes Cymru members and committee members has literally made me fear for my safety, my family’s safety and my mental health. If this is your vision of Wales, then I want no part of it…”.
These are not the only casualties of the astonishing war within YC either. One senior member who has recently been suspended from the Central Committee of YC, eminent clinical psychologist Dilys Davies, suffered enormous abuse online (with her having to ‘protect’ her Twitter account) after making remarks which appeared to inflame an opposition group within YC.
Dr Davies endured the attacks from certain supporters of Welsh independence inside YC, 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. She is a consultant psychologist who specialises in sleep difficulties, and recently bought the famous Cofiwch Dryweryn memorial wall on the A487 near Llanrhystud.
In one camp in the non headline-grabbing civil war, are 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.
Among those in the opposing group to Dr Davies’, seems to be controversial ‘comedian’, Huw Marshall, along with another senior CC member of YC, Aled Gwyn Williams.
There are other examples, however, of the nationalist and independence movements splintering. It looks from social media, that there is also now a breakaway organisation from YC called ‘Liberate Cymru’. The nationalist newspaper TN has been launched, too, although this seems to back YC.
Earlier last month TN was accused, as well, on social media of ‘exploitation’. An aggrieved critic wrote: “Well yes. Libellous article from Emrysius, but why did the National publish it? They literally threw her under a bus. The whole lot is a pretty dreadful debacle. It feels a bit like the National exploited a vulnerable teenager”.
The same person also attacked Mr Marshall’s criticism of what he views as the dominant ‘establishment’. In a tweeted reply to YC, she said: “Sorry, that was a tongue in cheek reference to Huw Marshall constantly complaining about white males – like he’s not white, or male!”.
Mr Marshall has been described as “the driving force” of TN, and so presumably supports a free media, but earlier he used a specialist online company attempting, unsuccessfully, to have The Eye closed down, alleging “violent threats and harassment” when there have been no threats of violence from our journalists, and the only harassment has come from him after he used social media to dub senior Welsh politicians, “twats”, and our Editor Phil Parry a “liar”.
In response to the demand that The Eye should be shut, the reply was made that: “Huw Marshall has: 1. Been investigated by the police for harassment. 2. Made sick ‘jokes’ on Facebook about the murdering gunman Raoul Moat. 3. Called senior politicians Ken Skates and Peter Black ‘twats’ online. 4. Been reprimanded by Twitter. 5. Sent unwanted takeaways to people’s houses”.
In an incendiary ‘opinion’ piece, the founder and former Editor of the website, NC, fellow (?) nationalist Ifan Morgan Jones, finally acknowledged the problems now tearing apart YC, seeming to blame the row for prompting the abrupt resignation of Mr Jobbins. It is especially bizarre as Dr Jones teaches ‘journalism’ at Bangor University (BU).
He wrote: “The resignation of YesCymru Chair, Siôn Jobbins, won’t have come as a complete surprise to anyone who has been paying attention to the increasingly hostile debate at the heart of the movement over the past few months”.
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.
There have also been other unwelcome headlines for YC. The Twitter account of a controversial YC message has announced that at one point it had 487 ‘likes’ and 187 ‘retweets’, yet when these were counted the figures were actually just 45 and 70 respectively.
We have revealed, too, how Mr Jobbins publicly proclaimed he wishes Germany had won World War One, ironically stated “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..?”.
A member of YC, called Kerry-Anne Mendoza of the left-wing website ‘The Canary’, (who has appeared more than once on the state-backed television channel Russia Today [RT]), shared a message saying Zionism was racist from former Labour MP Chris Williamson who had been suspended for criticising an anti-Semitism investigation, after it announced she was to be investigated herself, over allegations she held the same views.
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 mainstream journalists.
Yet despite this, YC labelled Ms Mendoza 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 (an intriguing word to use in the circumstances) on Welsh democracy have led to (its) remarkable growth”, linking the comment to an article in the Herald.Wales by the disgraced 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”.
This, though, is not the first time YC has made news for the wrong reasons (and Mr Edwards’ assault WAS reported in the mainstream media). Mr Jobbins quitting, the latest disclosures on The Eye of in-fighting within YC, as well as the online behaviour being referred to the police, have only added to the pressure on the organisation. 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.
Apart from watching “with increasing horror as the welsh independence movement has been embroiled in a bitter debate over the issues of transgender rights” the critic also wrote in TN: “As a non-binary person, logging onto social media everyday, to witness my rights be debated with such bitterness and contempt, to questions of whether transgender people should be welcomed, embraced and supported by the independence movement has been draining and dehumanising.
“I have been harassed, doxxed (publishing private information about an individual on the internet with malicious intent), and been sent death threats – all because I have refused to remain silent over the treatment of transgender individuals within the movement.”
It is obvious that others within YC are also refusing to remain silent, as is shown by a letter going out to members warning of “Organisational and Accountability Failure”, and that there has been “No financial oversight”, as well as a “Lack of transparency”.
Perhaps this astonishing civil war within the nationalist and independence communities may, now, be reported in the Welsh mainstream media.
Or perhaps not…
Tomorrow – why another troubled organisation in Wales has hit the skids.
The memories of our Editor Phil Parry’s remarkable decades long award-winning career in journalism (which included reporting controversies surrounding contentious groups) as he was gripped by the rare neurological disabling condition, Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP), have been released in a major book ‘A GOOD STORY’. Order the book now!