For my first column as this news portal's chief political commentator, I thought it wise to share a secret. After all, the pressure is now on to say something interesting every week and it is only right that I mark my ascendancy to the upper echelons of Cymric commentariat class in the right and proper way.

So, what’s the secret? Well, don’t get too excited: it only relates to my sole mention in the Senedd chamber. An honour you’d think a patriot like me would welcome, but far from it. The words were uttered five years ago: “I would like to draw attention to Theo Davies-Lewis and the pamphlet that he wrote for Gorwel… and the discussions that he had with the first minister, which, unfortunately, the first minister was not convinced by.”

Some peoples influence never change. Fortunately sometimes policy does, however. That pamphlet argued for a Youth Parliament for Wales, an institution that now exists as Cardiff’s elected second chamber and much more democratically than the Upper House in London.

Now for the secret. Aren’t you wondering which generous soul and progressive champion broadcast my good name into the Siambr? Lord Elis-Thomas, maybe. Perhaps that sensible Conservative in Wales, David Melding. Alas, ‘twas not. It was none other than Neil Hamilton.

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Hazard a guess why I am not so proud that my only celebration in the hallowed halls of the Bay has been courtesy of the leader of UKIP. The whole thing has been a distant, long-forgotten memory since. Well, that is, of course, until this week.

Like many of you, I was surprisingly reminded of the presence of UKIP as a political force. It was that same politician who wanted teenagers running around participating in Welsh civic society in 2016 who now calls for the Senedd to be abolished; for sex education to be scrapped in primary schools; and for smoking to return in pubs. Those are just the policies that grab the headlines from what Hamilton describes as his “people powered manifesto”.

Indeed, a people powered manifesto if those people are from 1921 rather than 2021, Mr. Hamilton. Not only because those policies are dangerous to public health but because they threaten to re-write the relatively liberal and progressive society we live in.

A brief summary of UKIP policies tells us so. The Welsh language? UKIP want to overturn laws requiring local authorities to provide services bilingually, as well as allowing parents to take children out of Welsh language lessons after they turn 14. An audit into statues and street names then? No thanks, the Kippers say. What about the Nation of Sanctuary, a refugee and asylum seeker plan? No, sorry. Surely legislation to protect children from smacking is welcome, though? Not in Mr. Hamilton’s Wales.

Neil Hamilton’s Wales. That is a most curious prospect. It would be a country governed from another in the first instance – ironic for an arch-Brexiteer – as the Leader of UKIP has pulled the strings of his ever dwindling Senedd group (now just him) from his modest mansion in Wiltshire for the last five years.

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A UKIP Government would plunge the nation back into the Dark Ages; for the Kippers, as long as what they see as ‘free speech’ flourishes, the ‘woke’ brigade are silenced and the ‘Tafia’ are unseated from power, nothing else matters.

Thankfully UKIP are unlikely to be back in the Senedd, so my good name is no longer set to be uttered by another member draped in purple and yellow. What is not going away is the culture war experiment that Hamilton & Co. have fuelled to new heights.

Don’t get me wrong, we are all up for a debate here – too much for our own good, as Gerald of Wales prophesised – although right now Wales is slowly becoming a mere petri-dish for populist politician to experiment and grow their ideas.

All parties have form for fielding candidates that don’t live in Wales; in other words, they are parachuted in – sometimes to cut their teeth before moving to more desirable political opportunities, other times because their political careers have run their course elsewhere.

What concerns me more however is that people outside and increasingly inside Wales are becoming radicalised by Anglophile populists who want to take back control, drain the swamp, and a new favourite: stop the separatists. I still don’t know what those phrases mean – apart from dismantling Wales’s democratic foundations and hurting policy across education, health, and local government. I could go on.

These populists – with the likes of Neil Hamilton at the helm – find us obedient people. People who hold frustrations and grievances easy to tap into. A good avenue to test their ideas. So populists are increasingly gunning in their Welsh experiment to make us very different. It is a simple choice between those who wish to maintain the level-headed, tolerant, and liberal Wales versus those who wish to do the opposite.

That is no scaremongering. Weakened for so long by a democratic deficit, uninspiring politicians and a historical lack of self-confidence, Welsh civic society must find a way to avoid this country becoming a shell of its current self; we are their next political mission before they move on to another cause, blowing in whatever direction the wind does.

After May 6 there is good reason to fear that the increasingly polarised debates we are having will come to a head. There are too many in Wales that right now want to see our society overturned and our institutions flattened. Those progressive politicians have not had an answer for years. They need one, and very fast, if they are to combat the new age of populism that is thriving across Wales. For my part, maybe I’ll write a pamphlet about it.