A remarkable statement by the main Welsh independence organisation, headlined “WE WILL NOT TOLERATE INTOLERANCE”, throws the spotlight again on the shock resignation of its founder, and how for many it is in complete disarray over an extraordinary internal battle, with one supporter tweeting that there is “fear for the movement” and another saying it is in a “very precarious position”.
The statement last week by YesCymru (YC) continued: “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”.
Exclusive research by The Eye shows that most of the nationalist and independence communities in Wales appear to be engulfed by an astonishing fight within the ‘family’, concerning transgenderism. A critic on one side of this 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”.
Meanwhile, the sudden announcement that Sion Jobbins was quitting as Chair of YC was met with total amazement by some in the Welsh nationalist community, while in other quarters there appeared to be jubilation. Worries were expressed at the time about the oversight in the group, with another backer of YC stating 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.
In the past The Eye have been alone in reporting the astonishing civil war which has blown apart the nationalist community in Wales, with numerous figures in YC taking to social media to reveal what they have suffered, as the furious row has raged. 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 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”.
But this latest crisis for YC highlighted by the statement, and outbursts which followed Mr Jobbins’ disclosure that he was leaving, focused attention on events in the Welsh nationalist and independence movements generally. They come after other, disturbing, disclosures made only by The Eye, which have not featured in the mainstream media. 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 fight 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.
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.
Contentious Mr Marshall founded TN (edited by Gavin Thompson) and has proclaimed that he is responsible for its “Digital development” in the masthead of his Twitter page, but the newspaper he works for, (TN), is at the centre of a storm of controversy itself, over its neutrality, and there have been attacks, as well, online about the nature of its financial backing. It has also been condemned by one reader as a “nationalist propaganda sheet”.
Earlier this month TN was accused, too, 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 by Mr Thompson 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”.
Last week Mr Marshall summed up how some in the Welsh independence movement had created a ‘mess’, saying on Twitter: “An anti Welsh and anti Welsh language troll being RT’d by a bonkers Welsh blogger sums up the mess a certain section of Welsh indy has created…’.
It seems that his Welsh nationalist newspaper (TN) is in a ‘mess’ as well, and has been spotted lying (unsold) in supermarkets.
In an incendiary ‘opinion’ piece just before the critical tweets about Mr Marshall and TN, the founder and former Editor of fellow (?) nationalist website, NC, 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.
It is clear that Mr Williams, like Mr Marshall, holds extremely trenchant views himself 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”.
But ‘comfortable’ is not a word which is likely to be used about the administration of YC or events now within the wider nationalist community in Wales, after past disturbing news about the organisation was brought out by The Eye. 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 how Mr 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 YC have also made news (in The Eye). We showed how a branch of the organisation 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”.
YC faces a number of other serious challenges, apart from the resignation of Mr Jobbins, and the statement, now, revealing the scale of discontent within the movement. A member of it, 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.
She tweeted, too, a message of support to former Plaid Cymru (PC) leader Leanne Wood who lost her Rhondda seat in May’s elections (which saw an incredible media reacrion), and was condemned as well by WAAS.
Yet despite all 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 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.”
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?”
This, though, is not the first time YC has hit the headlines (and Mr Edwards’ assault WAS reported in the mainstream media), with Mr Jobbins quitting, as well as the online behaviour being referred to the police, only adding to them. 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”.
There is also mounting hostility to the appearance (illegally) of YC stickers on lamp posts and road signs. The Monmouth MP and Welsh office minister David TC Davies said: “I’m frankly sick of YesCymru stickers being placed all over signs and buildings in Wales”. Mr Davies, has been an MP continuously since May 2005, and currently holds the UK Government posts of Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Wales Office), as well as Assistant Whip.
These unbelievable events affecting YC and the wider nationalist communities in Wales, not being covered by the mainstream media, as well as anodyne ‘interviews’ with the leadership, have even been the subject of our satirical writer, Edwin Phillips.
Meanwhile, 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.”
Remaining silent is clearly not an option for YC either, as it issues a statement headlined “WE WILL NOT TOLERATE INTOLERANCE”, highlighting again the shock resignation of its founder and how for many it shows that it is in complete disarray over an extraordinary internal battle, with one supporter tweeting that there is now “fear for the movement”…
The memories of our Editor Phil Parry’s remarkable decades long award-winning career in journalism (when the resignation of prominent individuals and internal rows, were always covered) 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!