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‘The details in this story of what is happening to the SNP, could have major ramifications for the independence movement in Wales’

During 23 years with the BBC, and 40 years in journalism (when he was trained to use simple language, avoiding jargon), our Editor, Welshman Phil Parry, has always been fascinated by politics and how they may affect Wales, and it is now underlined by the apparent implosion of the Scottish National Party (SNP) with a ‘no-confidence’ motion planned this week, and news that Humza Yousaf might resign today as First Minister of Scotland (FMS). These events could have serious repercussions for the whole independence movement.

 

Political events today north of the border do not just concern Scotland – they may affect Wales too.

It doesn’t look good for Humza Yousaf

The Welsh independence movement (notably YesCymru [YC]), should look seriously at what is happening with the Scottish National Party (SNP), after news that a ‘no-confidence’ motion is planned in a few days into Humza Yousaf, and an incredible police investigation being launched into the party’s finances which culminated in high-profile arrests. So too should Plaid Cymru (Plaid).

Sources have said Mr Yousaf plans to “come out fighting” after his former allies the Scottish Greens said they would join the other opposition parties in the vote this week, but he still cancelled a speech he was due to deliver on independence in Glasgow on Friday. As Sky News put it last week: “Humza Yousaf’s future as first minister is hanging in the balance today ahead of a motion of no confidence”.

Alex Salmond said an electoral pact was his “top line”

The leader of the even more fiercely independence minded party Alba, Alex Salmond, has made clear his terms for backing Mr Yousaf in the crucial vote (his group has one seat in the Scottish Parliament [SP]). He wants an electoral pact whereby the SNP would stand aside for his candidate at Hollyrood elections.

In an interview with the Sunday Times (ST) yesterday Mr Salmond said that it is his “top line”.

Nicola Sturgeon appeared angry in a leaked video where she told people not to undermine the SNP

Meanwhile, voters will know that former SNP leader (and Scottish first minister) Nicola Sturgeon was arrested and questioned (although released without charge), in the huge investigation which has been undertaken by the police into party finances. Her home, and that of her husband (the former Chief Executive Officer [CEO] of the SNP Peter Murrell), was searched. Mr Murrell has now been charged, and Ms Sturgeon has described the allegations that her husband embezzled funds from the SNP as “incredibly difficult”.

There is a great need for Plaid, too, to familiarise itself with these amazing incidents. I’m sure it is an “incredibly difficult” time for Ms Sturgeon – and it must be ‘difficult’ too for Plaid and YC.

Controversy cannot be removed from the SNP as easily as the luxury camper van which was seized by the police during their investigation

Don’t forget that the ENTIRE governing committee of YC resigned amid complaints of harassment, and a sexist advert for the movement had to be hurriedly withdrawn, with one journalist in Wales, who is a keen observer of these extraordinary episodes telling us: “The barmy cult is collapsing”.

It comes amid news that the leader of YC was abruptly sacked earlier this year, and other astonishing events have also been publicised. Gwern Gwynfil was appointed Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of YC in September 2022, and was responsible for the day to day running of the group, as well as for its campaign strategy. Mr Gwynfil has claimed that he was sacked by email, and the correspondence was sent by the Chair of YC, Barry Parkin, who stated the CEO position was “no longer required”.

In another email there was a frank admission that members had been exposed to intolerable harassment which “went far beyond social media posts”.

It went on: “The members of the Central Committee of YesCymru have collectively resigned and stood down from their roles with immediate effect…The announcement comes with the opportunity to enable a new Central Committee to be elected at a forthcoming Extraordinary General Meeting.

 

Ifan Morgan Jones has firm views. Here he is with his partner

After a long delay the astounding development of the mass resignations in YC was reported beyond the nationalist ‘family’, and was published in the Newport-based South Wales Argus which stated that: “The outgoing Chair of the Central Committee, Sarah Rees, said: “This decision has been taken in the best interests of the organisation and its members. It enables a totally clean break from the past and provides a clean start for the newly-elected Central Committee in the autumn, while protecting all the good that has been created”.

Even before the WHOLE YC committee quit, in an incendiary ‘opinion’ piece, the founder and former Editor of the website, Nation.Cymru (NC) (which has Welsh Government [WG] backing unlike The Eye) nationalist Ifan Morgan Jones, finally acknowledged the huge problems they were facing, seeming to blame the row over transgenderism for prompting the unexpected resignation of the then head of YC, Sion Jobbins (another apparent casualty).

Sion Jobbins questioned the fight against Hitler

Dr Jones 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”.

YC also released a sexist 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”. The video 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.

There have also been earlier challenges for YC which were only reported by The Eye. The Twitter (now X) account of a controversial YC message 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.

Journalists on The Eye have disclosed, too, how Mr Jobbins publicly proclaimed he wished Germany had won World War One, ironically stated “Stalin had no choice”, and questioned the fight against Hitler. In another remark on Twitter/X, 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 contentious message saying that Zionism was racist, from former Labour MP Chris Williamson. 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. The organisation she joined declared in a tweet which has now been deleted that “Open assaults (interesting words to use 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 disgraced MP for Carmarthen East and DinefwrJonathan Edwards, who accepted a police caution after attacking his wife.

Kerry-Anne Mendoza on Russia Today (RT) – ‘a rock star’ to YesCymru

But critics were unamused and one declared 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 hit the headlines for the wrong reasons.

A disillusioned member of YC said in the short-lived Welsh newspaper The National (TN) that he was watching “with increasing horror as the welsh independence movement has been embroiled in a bitter debate over the issues of transgender rights” the concerned member or ex-member, also wrote: “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.” There have been warnings from YC that members should not put up stickers, and a former member said that he had left the independence organisation, because he had  been “branded as a fascist” and that “Members of my family were hounded and contacted at work”. YC was accused on Twitter/X of being “rancid”, and “toxic”.

Another said YC ‘needs to sort it out’. It was disclosed by The Eye that a letter had been sent to members warning of “Organisational and Accountability Failure”, that there has been “No financial oversight”, as well as a “Lack of transparency”.

There is fear for the independence movement

Along with the resignations and sacking, one supporter has tweeted that there is “fear for the movement”. The ‘intolerance’ statement by YC announced that: “We on the Central Committee (members of which quit) 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”.

These remarks fall into a familiar pattern, as the amazing battle has raged within YC and the wider nationalist ‘family’, and I have seen a growing chorus of furious complaints on Twitter/X and Facebook (FB), apparently showing that these groups are being torn apart.

One supporter has written: “…you’ve pulled an EGM and forced the committee out..”, and another proclaimed that there had been a “lack of condemnation for bullying & harassment, etc…”. A critic on one side of the battle wrote: 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”.

It’s been alleged that YesCymru has been ‘poisoned’ and is ‘rancid’

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”.

Sion Jobbins said he resigned because of his ‘ill health’

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 claimed he resigned on private grounds, but many commentators refused to believe this, and said that it had left YC ‘in complete chaos’. “I’m stepping down purely for personal reasons – because of my health”, Mr Jobbins told the taxpayer-supported NC.

On the case!

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 have said that they cancelled their membership, and one wrote on Twitter/X“@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’”.

‘I want no part of it…’

A backer of Welsh independence, who became aggrieved by his treatment from YC supporters, said on Twitter/X: “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…”.

Ellie Pitt’s ‘interview’ began ‘Westminster isn’t working for Wales..’

This bitter dispute which has now exploded into daylight also puts centre stage the treatment of YC in the mainstream media.

For example an anodyne ‘interview’ with the creator of YC, Mr Jobbins, was conducted by an ITV reporter. The ‘report’ by Ellie Pitt 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’”.

YesCymru should took at what has happened to fellow nationalists in Scotland

It is also a ‘poor’ show as well as stupid, if YC and Plaid don’t take note of events in Scotland, where a ‘no-confidence’ motion is planned into the administration of an independence government, and the party’s former leader was arrested during a police investigation…

 

 

Details of Phil’s astonishing decades-long journalistic career (when impartiality was central), as he was gripped by the rare and incurable neurological condition Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP), have been released in an important book ‘A GOOD STORY’. Order it now.

‘BUY MY BOOK!’

Regrettably publication of another book, however, was refused, because it was to have included names.

Tomorrow – another controversy which puts Wales in the spotlight; how the order for a senior business executive to give evidence at the legal inquiry into the appalling Post Office (PO) scandal and her apology for what happened, raise the major question of why she was appointed to a Welsh sporting organisation.