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Contemporary Wales
Contemporary Wales

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7.1 Labour’s ‘Welsh’ values (Andrew Edwards)

7.1.1 Labour values and Welsh values

A consequence of Labour’s domination of Welsh politics over the twentieth century and beyond is that, in popular political discourse, Wales is considered to be ‘Labour-land’. In attempting to explain Labour’s popularity, some have suggested that the Welsh have ‘Labour’ in their DNA. A great deal of Labour propaganda over the years has alluded to the ‘fact’ that the Welsh were, in some way, inherently socialist and had a particular set of values which made them receptive to Labour’s message and appeal, and to socialism. It is often assumed that the Welsh are more democratic, more liberal, more tolerant, more classless than people from many other areas of Britain.

Activity 20

Pause a moment to think about ‘Labour’ values and different forms of Welsh identity and what some consider to be ‘Welsh’ values. Write down the answers to the following questions:

  1. Are there elements of the Welsh national character that help us to understand attachment in Wales to Labour and ‘Labour’ values?

  2. Is the Labour tradition better explained by understanding Wales’s social and economic experience?

  3. What are ‘Labour values’?


If I was answering Question 3, I’d start with the easy ones – that Labour stands for radicalism, collectivism and equality. If I was answering thirty years ago, I would probably have said socialism, but I’m not so sure that I would today. So, we need to think of values that are not necessarily static.