Monday, 18 May 2009

Celyn – The Welsh Green Left Review

Anyone who regularly checks out the Socialist Unity blog will probably have seen a few posts announcing the publication of a new left magazine in Wales, Celyn along the lines of the Scottish Left Review which aims to be a discussion journal between lefties in several parties and others, (The editorial statement says the editorial board consists of ‘people from Labour, Plaid Cymru and the Communist Party as well as trade unions, the peace movement and other campaigning organisations’.) although I do believe the two main people behind it are Marc Jones (former Cymru Goch member and current Plaid Cymru councillor) and Leanne Wood (Plaid Cymru AM).
When I was in Wrexham a few weekends back I picked up a copy and I have to say I have mixed feelings about it. To my mind its not like a journal that allowed debate between different trends on the left wouldn’t be useful. But the nearest that Celyn gets to this is a page about the European Elections which features statements on the European elections from Plaid Cymru, Labour, the Greens and No2EU (and the layout is such that the Plaid Cymru piece stands out quite a bit from the others).
But to my mind the magazine falls short of this, but also in terms of attempting to offer a direction for the left in Wales. For example in Leanne Wood’s column she rightly condemns the funding cuts to the Assembly government and demands the money from the Westminster government, yet she doesn’t offer a strategy for forcing the government to give up this money.
Or the report on the Citizens of Bangor Deserve Better demonstration a few months back (see report on this blog) which whilst making the odd correct point (including about the main speaker at the demo) draws outrageously pessimistic conclusions. We even get a small mention (as ‘a small group of enthusiastic Trotskyist students’, there were about 12 of us there and we weren’t all students), yet the suggests that no-one was offering any demands or a programme for change. But we were there doing just that, with placards that were taken up by people, leaflets and our publications. I spoke from the platform and did just that, and additionally there was a speaker opposing council housing privatisation too. Perhaps the author of that article should have tried to do something similar instead of carping on from the sidelines!
It also doesn't feature anything about the issue of tuition/top-up fees in Wales - which there has recently been a bit of an uproar about within Plaid Cymru.
I did quite enjoy the last page of the magazine, the spiky bit which features some short amusing pieces as well as an advert for the Radical History Tour I attended last weekend entitled ‘Finally a date for the revolution!’, as its name in Welsh ‘Chwyl-dro’ could also translate as Revolution. But this doesn’t make up for what I think are the failings of the magazine, which to be honest could be better, so I for one won’t be taking out a subscription.


Plaid Whitegate said...

Flattered that you think me and Leanne are the two main people behind the venture - as you can see from the editorial board, it's drawn together a wide range of left views across Wales. We all do our bit.
Celyn 2 is out now - with a piece about top up fees. Sorry if the first issue didn't impress - it's a work in progress and the second issue has a great piece about how workers should not pay for the bankers' bailout.
I hope it will continue to improve and that we'll see more pieces offering solutions and answers to the current crisis of capitalism.
For more info and a taste of what the magazine, go to

Leftwing Criminologist said...


Hopefully I'll be able to pick up a copy of the magazine and look forward to reading the article on top-up fees. I do wish you every success with the magazine, as with any decent criticism the point is to attempt to influence the course of things for the better.