It’s time for Leanne to go

Picture: National Assembly (CC BY 2.0)

 

Jason Morgan argues that the Plaid Cymru leader should take responsibility for the party’s lack of electoral success…

Darllenwch yr erthygl yma’n Gymraeg fan hyn.

Like most people, I like Leanne Wood as an individual.

I do think she’s a principled and determined individual, although her politics and mine are somewhat different.

However, I believe that her time as leader is at an end.

Not that I think that will happen; I worry that Plaid Cymru will continue its slow decline, as it has done for many years, including during the past five of her leadership.

Five years is enough time for a leader to make headway, and that has not happened. Therefore let me outline the reasons I believe, sincerely, why Leanne Wood needs to go.

This election

By the end of this campaign, it became clear that Plaid Cymru, like all the smaller parties, would find things difficult thanks to the Labour groundswell that occurred.

Yes, they won Ceredigion, although one could make a fair argument that the Labour surge helped them win there more than Leanne Wood did personally.

But the problem with this election, as Mike Parker said on this site recently, is that the one seat gained enables the party once again to ignore its decline.

Elsewhere, there some dire results, including on Leanne’s home patch, and as leader she has to be held to account.

Let’s be honest: every time Plaid Cymru has a bad election, which is unfortunately more often than not, they argue that “this was a difficult election for us”.

It’s an excuse that is fast becoming overused.

Elections gone

Only Plaid Cymru’s most biased members could deny that electorally speaking, Leanne Wood’s time as leader has been disappointing at best.

The party has suffered from complete and utter stagnation. Apart from winning the Rhondda last year, there have been no significant steps forward.

And the most disappointing thing is that much of Leanne’s period as leader has coincided with a period of Labour decline that now seems to be over.

Last year’s Assembly elections were held during a historic period of Labour weakness, but these problems weren’t taken advantage of at all.

A one-seat gain in a 60-seat legislature is woeful against a party that has led the government for two decades. Plaid Cymru’s vote fell in over half of Welsh seats.

The party was also fortunate to keep their only MEP in 2014.

Basically, Leanne Wood’s electoral record is comparable to Ieuan Wyn Jones’, who resigned as leader after failing to gain ground at the 2011 election.

Decline and false hope

One of her key selling points during Leanne Wood’s campaign was that she could break through in the Valleys.

But outside of the Rhondda at the Assembly, there’s very little sign of that happening, not even at the council level (although the party did do well in Neath Port Talbot).

Some might point to Blaenau Gwent, but in truth without Nigel Copner it’s unlikely that the startling 2016 and decent 2017 results there would have happened.

In fact, in many parts of the Valleys, Plaid Cymru is electorally weaker today than when she won the leadership.

This year’s Rhondda result demonstrates that to a degree. In spite of everything she had thrown at it, it was one of Plaid Cymru’s worst results throughout Wales.

But Wales isn’t just the Valleys. A decade ago, there were seats which Plaid Cymru either held at Assembly level or were in contention: Aberconwy, Llanelli, Clwyd West, Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire.

The party has utterly failed to regain Llanelli, and the other three seats aren’t even on the radar anymore. That isn’t a price worth paying just for one seat, Rhondda.

You can argue, electorally, that in many ways Plaid Cymru has actually gone backwards under Leanne’s leadership, and not Ymlaen! as she’s so fond of exclaiming.

Performance in the media

This is a point that was rarely made on-line, but that I have heard been said offline (where you’re less likely to get clobbered for expressing an unpopular opinion).

Leanne’s performances in all of the debates this year just weren’t that good. Her answers tended to be superficial or didn’t hit the mark.

She didn’t disappear without a trace, partly due to her undeniable ability to produce memorable one-liners.

However, she saved them mostly for UKIP; a party that not only did badly in the election but were expected to do badly. She needed to target Plaid Cymru’s main competitors.

It’s also a fact that many in the party were either confused or downright furious at her strange announcement that she might stand in the Rhondda some weeks before polling day.

It took attention away from the election itself and made her look weak. It was a PR disaster, but hardly the only time she’s looked less than strong.

Her inability to deal with Dafydd Elis-Thomas – who should have been kicked out of the party after his last warning – was a sign of weakness, for which the party paid the price a few months later when he defected.

And whichever side you take in the very public spat between Neil McEvoy and Bethan Jenkins, instead of immediately taking control of the situation, Leanne Wood dallied and did nothing.

Both of the above examples damaged the party and showed an inability to take action when needed.

And, I hate to say it, Leanne does say some silly things on social media.

First of all, Welsh nationalists don’t necessarily agree with Corbyn, or his policies, either.

On top of that, she was in effect asking people to vote Plaid Cymru in order to implement the policies of the leader of another party.

Simon Brooks rightly pointed out here that people in Wales decided that the best way to implement Corbyn’s agenda was to vote Labour. And, really, that was the only sensible conclusion.

It begs the question: is Leanne Wood’s political strategy, and intuition, that of a leader’s?

‘Everyone loves Leanne’. Yes, they do.

But I love ducks. Really, I do. But I wouldn’t vote for one. Leanne Wood is popular; that doesn’t mean people necessarily see her as a statesman that could lead the country. I would suggest they don’t.

Independence

No, not every failure or disappointment is directly her fault; no more than every success is directly because of her.

But Leanne simply needs to take responsibility for election results, which is something she has never done.

She has needlessly dragged the party to the left, and there is certainly a perception among some quarters than the party now prioritizes socialism, feminism, minority politics, environmentalism (which are all worthy causes) above Welsh nationalism.

Even on the issue of independence I feel Leanne Wood’s strategy has in fact been detrimental. Instead of making the case, as she said she would when elected leader, the narrative she has adopted is “we’re not strong enough to be independent yet”.

That isn’t a positive case for independence, it simply cements the idea in people’s minds that Wales can’t stand on her own two feet.

Where next?

Indeed.

I can’t see Leanne stepping aside, in spite of her record. And it seems to me that there isn’t anybody within the party with the guts to challenge her.

The fact that there may be another election soon is irrelevant to her staying, as the strategy will be the same whomsoever leads: throw everything and Arfon and Ceredigion.

You won’t lose the Leanne Effect because, the truth is, it doesn’t exist and never has.

I believe there are four within the party who are leaders: Jonathan Edwards, Liz Savile-Roberts, Adam Price and Rhun ap Iorwerth.

The first two can’t stand as they’re not AMs, but maybe it’s time to look again at the party’s constitution in regards to that. It’s madness to say that someone of Liz Savile’s calibre can’t stand, but that Bethan Jenkins could.

It’s Adam or Rhun, isn’t it? I would, however, suggest this: one become leader and the other a deputy, a sort of double-ticket. I’m not sure it matters which one did which role.

They are easily the party’s best AMs and would make a good team, if they were able to agree to that.

Does anyone really think Carwyn Jones fears Leanne Wood more than Adam Price or Rhun ap Iorwerth? Sgersli bilîf.

Leanne Wood has had her chance. Plaid Cymru’s stagnation stubbornly continues, and five years is enough time to try and reverse fortunes.

Her predecessor, Ieuan Wyn Jones, a decent, hard-working man, wasn’t a leader. Leanne Wood, a principled and determined woman, isn’t either.

To give her another five years, like her predecessor had, isn’t an option.

It is now painfully obvious to anyone who takes a step back and removes their blinkers that the party needs a change of direction, and with that a change of leader.

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65 Comments

  1. Fair points made in this article but then I do believe that the belief that changing the leader of a party is going to change the party itself is short-sighted and wrong. The party has a lot of internal issues and a change of strategy is needed both electorally and internally. There is as much responsbility on the membership as there is the leadership.

    ‘She has needlessly dragged the party to the left, and there is certainly a perception among some quarters than the party now prioritizes socialism, feminism, minority politics, environmentalism (which are all worthy causes) above Welsh nationalism’
    —> No, this is misguided. These causes ARE a part of Welsh nationalism. That’s the whole point.

    • Capitalist and Welshnash

      No, they are not all a part of Welsh nationalism, they are part of one form of Welh nationalism. I can be a Liberal (or a Conservative) and in favour of my country being independent. The Left does not have a monopoly on Welsh patriotism; we need a Plaid that includes Liberals and Conservatives too, they are part of our country and always will be.

      • Here here… I’ve had enough of people in Plaid claiming that you’ve got to be a red flag waving communist in order to be a nationalist and believe that your country can and should be independent. When I joined there were of course those on the left of the party that advocated left policies (as were their right) but we also had people from the center and the right. We used to be more of a broad church of ideas, united in the belief that a better Wales was possible, a Wales that took control of her own destiny.

      • I disagree.

        Yes we need an independence movement that encompass the full political spectrum – no one wants a one party state when we reach (we will!) that stage. But there’s no reason the whole independence endeavour has to hang on Plaid’s shoulders either and thus force them into a more centrist standpoint than they want to make. No reason Plaid can’t be a left leaning campaigner for independence while some other party is a right wing campaigners for same.

        The fact that Wales does consistently vote more to the left than England does suggest that there an appetite for it.

  2. There is nothing that needs to be added to this. The blogger is absolutely spot on. So many Plaid members have mocked me and been aggressive for saying more or less exactly the same thing, and I’d add actually that these idiots are just as detrimental to future success as Leanne is. Wake up and smell the coffee.

    Do people in the Cardiff bubble really think feminism, Green policies and our deep love for immigration won the Rhondda and 33 extra Council seats? No. And being from Blaenau Gwent and having actually campaigned there, LW was not an asset. Without naming names, she was purposefully kept away from the constituency in fact. It was the Copner effect, not the Leanne effect (does it exist?)

    Having a deputy is an idea I had and agree with you here. The Greens have done a similar thing.

    What a lonely few days it’s been, apart from the blogesphere the party seems to be in total denial.

    Tipps to bottom rethink, leader and brand.

    • desdelguinardo

      “Do people in the Cardiff bubble really think feminism, Green policies and our deep love for immigration won the Rhondda and 33 extra Council seats? No.”

      I am sick of this ridiculous and lazy argument. Feminists and environmentalists in the Labour party increased their majorities throughout Wales during this election, standing on a Corbynite feminist and environmentalist manifesto. Look at Jo Stevens, who turned a marginal seat into a thumping 17,000 majority. It has nothing to do with ‘feminism and environmentalism’ Ben, it has to do with a lack of organisation and discipline throughout the party and a cosmetic change of leader, like some are suggesting, isn’t going to change anything.

      • If you’re not intelligent and respectful enough to argue without calling the thoughts of others ‘lazy and rediculous’ then I’m not going to engage with you. Save your bile for the Labour Party. All I’ll say is that Plaid needs to change it’s strategy and key messages. The current one hasn’t worked.

        • desdelguinardo

          Ridiculous, not rediculous.

          • I know it’s ridiculous, for some reason it’s down as rediculous in my SwiftKey. I think your main point though is that you’re my intellectual superior, mainly because we have a differing view of the leadership. Unless you have a 1st class honours degree, a PhD and have published, you’re not. People disagree, it doesn’t make you any less or more intelligent. Calling somebody’s comment lazy and ridiculous however does belie a slight immaturity and ability to debate like an adult in my opinion. All you needed to do was articulate respectfully why you disagree. You didn’t, choosing to be intolerant.

            But back to the main discussion. Of course those values are important, I never said they weren’t. I pointed out that while they clearly are not vote losers, there is room to debate whether they are vote gainers.

        • desdelguinardo

          I think that you think that getting a PhD makes you my intellectual superior, which is laughable. There are many people in the world who have no qualifications, and argue better than you do.

          I do not pretend to be your intellectual superior in any way, shape or form. I just said that your argument that Plaid Cymru’s feminism/environmentalism is somehow to be blamed for its failures was lazy and ridiculous, as it is a claim that has been thoroughly disproven due to the Labour party’s recent success.

          (I do have a first class honours degree by the way.)

          • Whoa! Hold on a minute. Putting words in my mouth again. I don’t think I’m better than anyone, far from it. You corrected my spelling, or the rather the mistake made by my predicted text, thereby calling into question my intelligence.

            Anyway, we can agree to disagree amicably, no? The nationalist movement is too small.

      • I’d wager that a high percentage of feminists and environmentalists in Wales are deeply hostile to Welsh identity, culture, accents and language. Why waste our time on people who despise us?

        In order to thrive economically Wales needs motorways, airports, industry. Wales needs more large Welsh-speaking families to maintain our language. Are these priorities for environmentalists and feminists?

    • Although 9 of the 33 gains were in Rhondda Cynon Taf, almost a third of the national total.

      It’s unlikely feminism, environment and immigration were on people’s minds in either a pro or anti way.

    • I think you have made some good points, Ben. I also think that Plaid seem to be a party that champions ‘niche’ political causes such as feminism and immigration when they should be talking about practical, material benefits that e.g. an independent Wales could benefit from. Incentives to bring graduates back home to Wales; turning Cardiff airport into a fully-fledged international airport; control of our natural resources and incentives for businesses to relocate here; renewable energy programmes; allowing every child in Wales to have the opportunity to be taught through their native language; transport improvements to provide better links between our university towns and cities (at least); promoting the teaching of Welsh history in English-language schools (Glyndwr et al), and so on.

      Yes, immigration and feminism are undoubtedly important but they do not resonate with your average working-class lifelong Labour voter as they would the average Plaid member. That is, the very voters Plaid is trying to appeal to. When the public view on immigration has shifted majorly rightwards in recent years, Leanne Wood will not win many more votes for Plaid from the working classes by having a massive photo opportunity by standing next to a fully-vieled and covered Muslim women, for instance. C’mon, no matter how much you think diversity is important (which is the root of my Welsh nationalism) and that everyone should have the right to wear what they want (which is my opinion) you have to have more political nounce than that.

      • Cynan- thank you. It’s nice not to have my intelligence called into question and have to respond to aggressive posts. Somebody earlier even accused me having a ‘hidden agenda’! I’ve been a member of Plaid Cymru for 6 years!

        Immigrants, by and large, are economically important and enrich our culture. Leanne was right to point out that a tiny minority of people in Wales are not from the UK. The principals of Feminism and the Green movement are also important. But this slight obsession with niche issues is the problem.

  3. “I love ducks, I really do, but I wouldn’t vote for one” pretty much sums up the nonsense in this article.

    • It’s the same argument as that against Corbyn, which has just recently failed to be born out isn’t it?

    • Glenn- the fact you’ve been unable to deconstruct this article, and instead pick up on a frivolous comment, says it all. The situation is indefensible.

  4. To some extent, Leanne Wood as Plaid leader is the inevitable conclusion of a process put in train, ironically, by Dafydd Elis Thomas back in the 1980s. This realignment involved backtracking on Welsh identity, welcoming the colonisation taking place (calling R S Thomas a fascist for opposing it), and embracing all manner of oddballs and their causes. It meant putting Plaid Cymru into some left-liberal, UK-wide movement that existed nowhere outside the imaginations of those

  5. As much as I hate to say it I tend to agree with you, and I speak as someone who finally joined Plaid *because* Leanne became leader, offering a bit of fresh 21st Century air to the party and its aims. But much as I like her – she seems an admirable and charming person – she does lack leadership qualities. Its unfair to make the comparison but when placed alongside Nicola Sturgeon (we won’t bring Mrs May into it, please) she is distinctly lacking the genuinely European-level statesmanlike qualities that the Scottish leader has in adundance.

    And again, as much as I wanted it to be otherwise, I was disappointed in Leanne Wood’s performance in the televised discussions, which do matter a lot. Some good lines, and a display of determination, but nothing to set the mind or heart racing. Don’t misunderstand me, we don’t need nor want a tuppenny-ha’penny Mussolini-wannabee like Nuttall or a sub-Johnson ‘performer’ like Farage. But a sense of something coming and about to be going places would help, and Leanne failed to instill it.

    I do have some concerns about your remark “there is certainly a perception among some quarters than the party now prioritizes socialism, feminism, minority politics, environmentalism (which are all worthy causes) above Welsh nationalism.” Mainly because I see no conflict whatsoever between all those ideas and a Welsh nation state; in fact I believe – strongly – that having all those qualities actually gives even more legitimacy to the idea of a Welsh nation state apart and separate from the backward-racing England and its fantasies of the Empire that Never Ended, and would be something to aim for, cherish, be proud of, and put us in the front rank of truly developed nations. Welsh nationalism in and of itself is only arguably a good thing – would be still want it if the best and perhaps only choice was the mixture of golden-age delusional asininity and comedy politics of UKIP? Actually when you come to think of it, compared to some Leanne Wood is a shining jewel we should truly cherish – and I mean that as a genuine compliment.

  6. Hmm I like seeing the counter view here, but am not entirely convinced by it. That said the REASON I joined Plaid was I liked Leanne, I like the left leaning stance and I liked the civic outward-looking flavour of nationalism, I liked the fact we finally had a second-language Welsh speaker and I hoped that might broaden the party appeal as it did for me. So I’m going to find it very hard to be an unbiased commentator.

    The fact that four other potential leaders are so easy to name must be good though.

    Perhaps with hindsight standing for the Rhondda would have been a move move. Perhaps Leanne as an MP and one of those other (also good) options as leader in the Senedd would have worked.

    Maybe not. Maybe next time.

    I don’t know what the fix is. I think it’s probably hard to pin it on a leader. I think the odds over your average voter noticing or choosing their party based on internal spats is unlikely – Plaid’s spats have been far less high profile than e.g. Labours for example!

    To my mind rolling out Ieuan Wyn Jones again felt a tad gimmick and weak but perhaps that’s unfair. perhaps that too might have worked at another time.

    But certainly a free and frank discussion is needed within the party about what next.

  7. Insanity: is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
    Albert Einstein

    And that is exactly what Plaid does every election.

  8. Trailorboy

    I like Leanne, but do quietly agree with some of the comments, except that I don’t think the alternatives are good enough to make the startling difference everyone wants in the short to medium term.

    There may be another election very soon and it may well be fought on very different grounds. This is no time for a new leader, since the party could be in the midst of a leadership election while the next election is taking place!!. The likeability of Plaid is there, but it’s very soft support and more often than not it doesn’t lead to votes, when it matters.

    The labour party may very well now seem more likely to win the next time around and that may in a strange way reduce the need in some voters minds to vote tactically to keep out the Tories. Also after a long period of nasty and divisive campaigning over issues such as Brexit, maybe it is time for a more concilliatory tone, from a party with a positive vision – something that doesn’t come across with plaid at the moment. Also, it is more clear now, how influential a small party of ten MPs can be in determining the outcome of an election.

    The fundamental weaknesses of Plaid is linked to the lack of positivity and vision, in terms of what is being offered (messages always seem far too negative, defensive and aggressive). Independence is an issue that leads to confrontation and muck throwing and has to be handled with care. Fighting for minority issues is all very well and it’s fine to lay the position out, but not something to get drawn into fights about – I suspect that the vast majority of the potential electorate for plaid simply aren’t that bothered.

    The debates showed the participants up to be combatants in a street-fight and thats an instant turn off for many voters. Leanne can fight tenaciously and everyone seems to be in that mode currently, but that may not impress too many people – it simply deflects from the message, which this time around was a disaster – “defend” is not a positive message and a hard sell, even if it might have seemed appropriate at the time, it didn’t inspire.

    I suspect the support for Leanne picked up quite a bit when she was attacked by David Davis on Question time and she has the ability and nouse to do things slightly differently, but she seems to get sucked into the wrong fights – she maybe earned points for being combative against Paul Nuttall, but that wasn’t a fight worth having.

  9. We held 3 and we gained 1 seat, which is very good and the electoral map looks very nice with the green bit covering most of the “Fro Gymraeg”. It was brilliant to gain Ceredigion, and well done to that young man Ben Lake!
    However, the Arfon result was extremely close. Only 92 votes were in it. I hold my hand up, I was too complacent to be honest. Probably many Plaid members and supporters in that area were also even though Hywel’s army of volunteers worked very hard on the doorstep. Diolch yn fawr iawn i chi!
    Changing leadership would be daft, because at the end of the day, we held our own under enormous pressure, and she doesn’t deserve any resignation pressure. Resignation would show weakness as well in front of Welsh Labour and the Welsh Conservatives especially as we have gained a seat. They can be very brutal when they can. But, we sincerely need to change the Party’s strategy and direction on how we are going to gain votes. Too be honest, I thought the party’s message to the electorate was unclear and lacked any bite. Our social media campaigning was very weak compared to Labour’s one, but that can be understandable as well, especially social media savvys and celebrities endorsing Corbyn.
    In the next election (God knows when) we need to sell our policies and our views stronger than last time on social media, on the doorstep as well as through leadership debates.

  10. ‘She has needlessly dragged the party to the left, and there is certainly a perception among some quarters than the party now prioritizes socialism, feminism, minority politics, environmentalism (which are all worthy causes) above Welsh nationalism’
    —> No, this is misguided. These causes ARE a part of Welsh nationalism. That’s the whole point.

    The belief that changing the leader of a party is going to change the party itself is short-sighted and wrong. The party has a lot of internal issues and a change of strategy is needed both on the campaign front and internally. There is as much responsbility on the membership as there is the leadership.

  11. I’m afraid that I agree with everything this article says, and have thought this way ever since Plaid Cymru got fewer votes than UKIP at the General Election in 2015. Don’t get me wrong; I feel that Leanne Wood is good in many ways, she is great at holding public meetings and I first got attracted to Plaid Cymru via one, but it is clear that the last five years have not seen Plaid Cymru advance, with the exception of Leanne winning the Rhondda, which I praise her for. The other elections, and perhaps even that one as well, have been at best luke warm and at worst humiliating, and the defeat of the Plaid Cymru endorsed remain campaign too was outright humiliation. If I were Leanne Wood, I would have resigned after the GE in 2015, and certainly after the 2016 referendum. Plaid Cymru has also been seen, quite rightly actually, as a party which is just too left wing (remember Mrs Windsor, anyone?) and also as a regional ultra-socialist branch of the labour party. There is no doubt in my mind, that Plaid Cymru needs to change course.

    • Well said. Just wear your bullet proof vest, her aggressive supporters are out in force. If you haven’t read it yet, Oggy Bloggy Ogwr also analyses this election and comes to a similar conclusion, yet thinks a leadership challenge should not come as quickly.

  12. Chris Franks

    How can you dismiss the second largest increase in councillors in the UK achieved by plaid only last month?

  13. Changing the leader would be a cosmetic change which would have absolutely no affect on Plaid’s electoral fortunes. In this election, like in every other election, the smaller parties were squeezed out of the picture by the Labour v Tory narrative. This is inevitable no matter how brilliant a leader Plaid has.

    Plaid’s problem is that it puts too much effort into the electoral campaigns where it’s voice is inevitably drowned out. What we need to do is to campaign vigorously on both national, but more importantly, local issues, in between electoral cycles, when there won’t be as much competition for attention.

    Where Plaid did relatively well in the last few elections was areas where it had been campaigning hard in between elections. As Ben says above, the Copner effect was more important than the Leanne effect in Blaenau Gwent. Finding more campaigning local leaders like Copner & McEvoy, is far more important than mucking about with the national leadership.

    • desdelguinardo

      For once, I almost agree with Alwyn ap Huw!

      • my initial reaction, based on a view held for some time, is that Leanne is not up to the job of leader despite having strong credentials as a representative politician at y Cynulliad. However there is much merit in considering the alternative which is the need for the entire Party to its collective finger out and start working “ar lawr gwlad” instead of engaging in internal discussions.

        Success comes in due course when the hard slog has been well under way – talking to communities who feel wronged, where services have been abruptly curtailed or discontinued, individuals who feel that “rules” have been applied in a draconian insensitive way, etc etc. From what I hear that’s how the likes of McEvoy & Copner do it, and no doubt there are many other legends in their own square mile, and it’s more of those we need. Real activists are better known in their own parishes BEFORE the media find out about them and try to tarnish their good names. By then its too late for such nasty interventions because the locals know that their local rep is a good salt of the earth person. Not easy, takes time, but there will be positive outcomes, be assured.

        Now if Leanne called a huddle, or whatever the leadership group is called these days, and said “get out into those communities and do some work” I think she could get a fresh head of steam into the party and her leadership effort. Party reps should discover the issues/grievances, and take up cases on behalf of the ordinary people out in those communities. At the same time they should make sure people know what powers Labour have at the Cynulliad and how those powers have been abused or misdirected. That would be a good starting point.

    • Des doesn’t agree with changing the leader because he likes Leanne. Fair enough. Each to their own. I won’t call his opinion ridiculous or lazy though, because it’s not how adults debate

      Alwyn, I have to disagree. Having a leadership challenge is healthy. I voted for LW in 2012 in the hope it would widen Plaid’s appeal. It hasn’t really though, has it? As the blogger correctly said, it’s been 5 years. Assembly, Council and Westminster elections have come and gone, but with little success. Plaid always says ‘it’s a difficult election’. Well obviously, we’re Welsh Nationalists, arguing against the accepted hegemony. That should just mean we change our strategy, not blame a polarised political system. I’m yet to read a favourable blog regarding Plaid’s performance, her supporters are on the ropes.

  14. Bethan Jenkins

    thank you for the comment re the leadership! I am not sure you need to compare me with anyone as I am never intending to put myself up for Leadership even if the opportunity should arise! I feel the Leadership role should however remain within the Assembly group. As a party, it is at the Senedd where we want to develop control and powers and having a leader of a party there is the rationale for that focus.

    And I would not describe my comments re another AM as a spat. I believed at that time that due to the investigation he was under that he should not have spoken at the party conference. And I stand by the statement I made.

  15. Keith Parry

    Plaid’s error has been to support get in to pacts with Labour. I was elected as Plaid councillor on Cardiff through weeks of hard work. Any pact, support, lend your vote to, or other rubbish that supports rotten , curupt, jobs for the boys Labour is a stab in the back to the grass roots party workers. On the door step people say” Plaid support Labour” Support a statement on Brexit with Carwyn Jones cost us 50,000 votes. Support Free Wales and campaign for it or die as a party.

  16. Gareth Shanks

    Mixed feelings about this, she’s steadily built Plaid results over the past few years, without winning anything major. However I meant her briefly at one point and informed me that my party (the Yorkshire Party, who sit in the same European Grouping as Plaid) are “probably better off looking to work with the Cornish, as they aren’t a nation, either.” Bit dim witted to assume a Celtic nation like Cornwall is just a region.

  17. Plaid should have spent the last couple of decades attacking Labour for being a Tory party, but were too nice.
    Labour are Plaids main competitors in most seats.
    Plaid should have headed a rainbow alliance when they had the chance, Labour were right wing at the time anyway.
    Plaid could have justified any coalition by saying there is no difference between you and them whether that be directed to the Conservatives, Lib-Dems or Labour [up to this election].

    The way forward in a year or so time [definitely not now as it would send out the wrong message] might well be to focus on rural seats with a Welsh speaker from that area in charge and see if Leanne can be persuaded to stand in the Rhondda Westminster seat. [Don’t forget the proposed new seats on the horizon, although the DUP will probably try to put a stop to that if they can].

    Leanne has been a huge success imo, stopped the rot, increased seats across the board in different elections, won the Rhondda seat in the Assembly by standing herself when she did not have to, I would have taken that 5 years ago, in fact that is exactly what I wanted, so Plaid could say down the line that they have had a female leader, a non Welsh speaker, a South Walian etc etc, all good.

    Its difficult to see how Plaid could have done any better the last few years with the comparatively huge amounts of English immigration into Wales and a Brit Nat media dominating the tv and written press in Wales.
    Plaid need to do more work on the immigrant and young persons vote and also use social media as much as possible to get their message out but Plaid must not under any circumstances forget their core vote in their heartlands.
    .

  18. Paula Davies

    We have a popular loved leader in Leanne. There is no stomach for a shift to the right. The right is already crowded. How could Adam Price right wing policies get us more votes. Promoting dodgy businesses like aerospace, arms companies that promise jobs jobs jobs that never materialise is following the failed policies of labour. A bit more active local campaigning is needed. There are too many opinionated armchair warriors in Plaid. AMs like Bethan Jenkins bring shame on Plaid. We should support our members against labour attacks not do that for them. Let’s support our leader and get on with it.

  19. Bendigedig

    !‘She has needlessly dragged the party to the left, and there is certainly a perception among some quarters than the party now prioritizes socialism, feminism, minority politics, environmentalism (which are all worthy causes) above Welsh nationalism’
    —> No, this is misguided. These causes ARE a part of Welsh nationalism. That’s the whole point.!”

    Exactly. What type of people would Jason like to see in Plaid Cymru? Right wing, sexist, climate change deniers? I don’t agree that these issues have been put above Welsh nationalism either. If you ask a member of the public what Plaid Cymru is, I doubt they would say feminism or even socialism.

  20. It does seem that Leanne was representing the party on every TV debate. Our friends in the SNP allowed Angus Robertson to lead on some debates. I know he lost his seat, but the SNP are still by far the biggest party in Scotland and it appears to me that they have strength in depth. Many of the contributors to this item have rightly commented on a string of results that have not seen significant changes and in some cases some very close results that were just wins. We have had two very good wins that no one seems to want to talk about. If you look at the party website you will see, Assembly, Westminster, Councillors and Leader. There is nothing about Police & Crime Commissioners. We won two of the four elections. The turn out was relatively high in Wales because the election was at the same time as other elections. It was also an election that showed we can also pick up strong second preferences from other parties.
    Jonathan Edwards has done some interesting work on the Barnet consequential of the devolution of policing that would result in £30m plus coming to Wales. Now to me that is really defending Wales. It is also achievable as we have devolved policing in Scotland, Northern Ireland, London and now Manchester.

  21. Jason Morgan has spoken truth to power here.

    No one doubts that Leanne is a likeable and personable individual who has contributed a huge amount to Plaid Cymru over the years. No one doubts her passion or her commitment to Wales.

    But, i think that the last five years speak for themselves if we consider the wider picture, i.e the state of the Welsh national movement , As Jason says, not only have Plaid Cymru stagnated electorally with Leanne at the helm since 2012, we are actually doing worse than 10-15 years ago, and this despite the additional TV exposure afforded to her over the past two elections and referendum. This is just an undeniable fact and we’re doing ourselves no favours in continuing to insist that everything is fine, and that nothing needs to change. Yes, people like Leanne as an individual. But, people are not convinced by her and are not persuaded to change their minds by hearing her speak in the main. If you haven’t got those qualities as a national leader, there is no way that your party is going to make any real headway.

    In a way, the TV exposure has lifted the scales from the eyes of many nationalists. I’m sure I speak for many when I say that this opportunity to stand up for the Welsh national movement has been wasted, mainly because of an attempt to appeal to “progressive” UK issues, and to present Plaid Cymru as a harmless potential partner in this particular market. Leanne could not seem to resist emphasizing her socialist credentials above all else in these debates, and the Welsh national question was inevitably watered down to fit in with that agenda.

    I”ll be honest and say that as a Welsh nationalist I was embarassed at times during these debates that the national movement was being represented and presented in such an ineffectual and ultimately self-defeating manner. No wonder we are taken so lightly by the UK media and the public in Greater England.

    We are facing unprecedented times following Brexit and the general election. The British state is in meltdown, with a wounded Conservatve party actively considering sharing power with the odious DUP who have vast cupboards of skeletons just dying to fall out. The peace process in Ireland could well be in danger should this arrangement go ahead, and the Labour party under Jeremy Corbyn of all people is now reported to have a 5% lead in the polls.

    Wales desperately needs a new nationalist leader to deal with this fall-out and re-define the national story in a way that can lift all of us..

    I really hope that Leanne acknowledges the reality of the situation and will now decide to stand aside. She will continue to be a valuable AM

    As to her replacements, Adam Price and Rhun ap Iorwerth would seem to be the obvious replacements, But I would really like to see Jonathan Edwards standing, (although I know that he represents a seat in Westminster). For me he possesses some real nationalist resolve about him; he’s an excellent speaker in both Welsh and English, and I think he would really be able to appeal to that wider audience that we all felt that Leanne could do at the outset. There’s an undeniable case for Welsh Independence to be put before the Welsh public because of our present circumstances. I’m sure that Jonathan Edwards would not flinch from putting that case fearlessly and tirelessly,

  22. Plaid always struggles in Westminster elections when the Labour Party us in opposition and resurgent. The SNP lost 21 seats, the Lib Dems gained just four, the Greens flopped again. Why would anyone expect Plaid to do any better in these circumstances? A different leader would have achieved a very similar result. I’d certainly have taken a one seat gain before the election. Leanne’s not perfect, but guess what? Neither’s anyone else. She’s shown far more leadership than I’ve ever seen in a Plaid leader. I’m sticking with her.

  23. I don’t think Leanne should go. It is not her fault. The problem is Plaid. The party has always ran a mile away from the one aim that defines us. I come from an English speaking, working class and Labour voting family in Gorseinon. My family and I have always identified as Welsh. I look back at the chaos and disruption of my youth caused by my father losing his job at Velindre Steelworks. I quickly came to the view that a Welsh state was essential to protect the Welsh people from policies people like Thatcher unleashed on a nation that didn’t vote for her. I looked to Plaid Cymru to put my weight behind the national cause. However I was soon confused to hear that leading Plaid figures didn’t even mention the word “Independence” The Plaid leadership were like a shy bunch of teenagers trying to buy condoms in a chemist but ending up walking out with toothpaste! When they did mention the “I” word – they ridiculed it, saying it was “old fashioned” and belonged in the 19th Century. But for me, it was always (and remains today) No 1 on the to-do list. Also at the same time Plaid embraced the idea of a “Europe of the Regions” I was really disheartened that the Plaid leadership were happy to aspire for Wales to become a region like Lombardy and Baden Wurtemburg but never an independent state. The SNP never did this.
    Terrible social dislocation was taking place in Wales during this time and Plaid were otherworldly and irrelevant. I discounted Plaid for years. My father always said they were a party for farmers full of crachach who didn’t give a shit about us. However I eventually joined Plaid during the devolution campaign in Swansea in 1997 – and I have been a member ever since. But if Plaid managed to turn off a budding nationalist from a demographic background the party need to target like myself – It maybe explains why the party has lost ground in comparison to the SNP – If I was a youngster in 1980s Motherwell instead of 1980s Swansea – I would be looking at 30 years of SNP activity instead of my 20 years in Plaid Cymru.
    Plaid with its middle class cultural nationalism is a handbrake on the Welsh national cause. Which is why Neil McEvoy is such a breath of fresh air – I think he is brilliant. He needs to be cloned and distributed throughout the cities and valleys of Wales. I was disgusted to see the Plaid leadership not supporting him and caving in to the Labour Bay bubble elite. More importantly, Plaid and these modern feminists did not give a damn about the mother and daughter McEvoy tried to protect from eviction. The Welsh working class are no mugs, they sensed that Plaid was not really on their side.
    However I am optimistic about Plaid’s future. Brexit and McEvoy are mortal wounds on Plaid’s “ancien regime” Brexit threatens the integrity of the UK like never before and Plaid’s EU comfort zone which mangled our unique selling point of independence will soon be no more. No more “Europe of the Regions”. No more “Full National Status” Now it is Independence or nothing. UKIP’s raison d’etre has been fulfilled and they are now an irrelevance. If Plaid can now start the task of becoming relevant to the Welsh people by supporting people like McEvoy and mounting a full-out attack on the soft underbelly of Welsh Labour – we could be the big winners. Wales can be ours and we can take the first steps onto the road to independent statehood.

  24. The giveaways in this crude ill disguised hatchet piece is when Jason Roberts (whoever he is) writes “although her politics and mine are somewhat different” while further on he says “She has needlessly dragged the party to the left, and there is certainly a perception among some quarters than the party now prioritizes socialism, feminism, minority politics, environmentalism (which are all worthy causes) above Welsh nationalism”.

    Yawn…. another right winger unable to bring themselves to join the tories because they are the party of the ‘union’, so people like jason roberts choose to linger on the fringes of a left of center party sniping away at leanne at every opportunity. These people never wanted leanne as leader of course – but the fact remains the socialist, feminist and anti racist leanne wood got more support than all the other candidates combined when she stood for the leadership, and would again if any of her publicity shy detractors had the bottle to stand against her.

    As for plaid’s electoral performance under leanne well last time i looked plaid had just increased its number of MPs – equaling its best ever performance in a uk general election. And in last years senedd elections Plaid took the seat of one of the leading members of welsh labour (leighton andrews) in its south wales valleys heartlands – no one in plaid except leanne wood could have won that seat. She won it because of her socialist politics. It’s also simply untrue to say leanne has downplayed the aim of independence for wales – indeed just a few weeks ago this is what she had to say on the matter https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/3615717/wales-independence-bid-plaid-cymru-leanne-wood/

    Course If the likes of jason roberts are so unhappy with the fact plaid is a left of center party led by a left of center leader there’s a very simple solution open to him and them – leave! Leave and set up that right of center nationalist party he and those like him seemingly have wet dreams about. Dont expect anything in the way of electoral support of course – there’s never been much interest or support for right wing economic policies among the welsh electorate.

    PS i think we all know what your term ‘minority politics’ is code for…….nuff said.

    • should be Jason Morgan of course (whoever that is)

    • Normally I’d just let this slide and let the discussion flow but seeing as you have some strange ideas about me, and because of the tone of your message, I’m going to reply directly.

      Firstly, just so you know, I’m 32 years old, work as a translator in Cardiff but am originally from north Wales, and I’ve blogged regularly about politics in Welsh for a good decade – nothing more, nothing less. I’m not claiming any specific expertise or insight I’m simply giving my opinion. I was asked to write a previous article for the site and offered this one as well. I’m sure if you want to counter the argument in a methodical and dignified manner nation.cymru would be more than happy for you to write an article for them. Although maybe you could just answer without steam coming out of your ears.

      Secondly, I’m sick and tired of people on the left of politics accusing people who disagree with them of being right-wing. Grow the hell up. I’m not right-wing; I’m more of a social democrat/centrist although I don’t define myself as such as I think most political ideologies have their merits. If Wales had a fully independent Conservative party I wouldn’t vote for it. I’m a Welsh nationalist – that is what drives my politics. I am not in favour of right-wing economic politics.

      I was a member of Plaid Cymru during the leadership election and voted for Elin Jones and Leanne Wood second. I didn’t give Dafydd Êl a vote. I wasn’t unhappy that she won, but have been bitterly disappointed with her general performance since then for the reasons I outlined above. I still vote for the party – if you must know I actually leafleted for them in Cardiff this year a few times. However it is the attitude of people like yourself that made me give up my membership and makes me a reluctant supporter. “If you don’t like it, leave!” you shout. Way to alienate the very people who share what should be the true aim of the party, promoting the national cause, not political dogma.

      I have no ideological opposition to feminism, environmentalism or socialism – I support all to differing degrees. I said they were worthy causes. But when a nationalist party promotes them above its actual USP, it loses its USP, and become just another run-of-the-mill party. That is what has happened: Plaid Cymru has become nationalist-lite. As a nationalist, I find it no less than distressing that our only national party promotes so many other issues above the fight for Welsh independence.

      On the independence issue, you maybe should read what I actually said. The narrative she has adopted is detrimental to the cause and what she actually says is a far cry from her initial assertions about how she would approach the subject. (I do however like the fact that you’ve used the Sun, that’s quite funny).

      And even I can’t make out what you mean by “we know what you mean by minority politics” seeing as I also that that is a worthy cause, but it is not the party’s raison d’etre.

      This isn’t a personal attack on Leanne Wood – far from it. I genuinely believe that people like her are needed in politics, but do not believe that she’s leadership material.

      I hope that answers your post. Please, if you want to reply to anything I say, read what I’ve said not assume what you think I mean.

      Pob hwyl,
      Jason

      • The arrogant, aggressive and nasty attitude of some of LW’s supporters has shocked me. Yesterday, I was accused of having a hidden agenda. What could that mean? Possibly that I’m not a real supporter? Who knows. I’ve been a member of the party for a 6 years and voted LW (single choice) in 2012.

        The piece was brilliant Jason. You have your supporters too.

    • The problem is, there is no detail in how we would be able to support our economy. Plaid Cymru used to be advocates of taxing the energy and water flowing over Offa’s Dyke. That policy is gathering dust somewhere. The constant playing down of our hopes of being able to support ourselves economically and going cap in hand to London is depressing and uninspiring. We need a firebrand leader who will take the fight to them. Leanne is very nice but fails to inspire.

  25. Bendigedig

    “I have no ideological opposition to feminism, environmentalism or socialism – I support all to differing degrees. I said they were worthy causes. But when a nationalist party promotes them above its actual USP, it loses its USP”

    But when does Plaid do this? If you’re going to accuse Leanne/Plaid of something, give some examples.

  26. I have left these comments on another well known blog recently. Just in case you missed them;

    Like many I’ve been concerned about Plaid Cymru for some time. 1. Their policies and not radical enough especially policies surrounding the economy.
    2. There is no vision of how an independent Wales would look like and how we would pay for it. This argument that we need more money from Westminster (although important) is depressing and does nothing for the nations self esteem
    3. There is no leadership, national policies from Plaid are not exercised in councils that they actually run. You might be a supporter of green energy but when a green energy project is for the benefit of the locals I would expect support from Plaid Cymru councillors for such a plan.
    4. There is next to no organisation at a local level, it’s too Cardiff central.
    5. Leann Wood hasn’t the ability to fire people up. She’s had plenty of practice and it’s not getting any better.
    6. I live in a Welsh speaking village near Pwllheli. If we had an election tomorrow and if Labour had a local candidate he or she would have a good chance. People feel that they have been forgotten and devolution has not delivered for them.
    7. Problems in regards to house prices hiked up by second homes persist and nothing has been done. Meanwhile more houses are being built in Abersoch whilst the locals fester on the housing list. Plaid Cymru Councillors are scared of making a stand similar to the one made by the town council of St Ives.
    8. A proposed change in the local development plan to remove or amend the need to consider the impact on the Welsh language when considering significant developments during the planning process is being seriously considered by Plaid Cymru councilors in Gwynedd and Anglesey. If this happens it will be curtains.
    9. Reverting back to old candidates like Ieuan Wyn is a backward step. Change the bloody record and let’s go with someone younger and bolder in their nationalistic stance.

    In short, it’s not as simple as changing the leader but it is part of the solution.

  27. As Abertaweman wrote, Brexit and McEvoy are game changers. But why blame Leanne for failure to respond rather than the leadership team with ap Iorwerth and Price now prominent? They are well aware that the ‘bully’ attacks on McEvoy were motivated by personal animosities. Rather than sitting out the pseudo-feminist media campaign orchestrated by Plaid’s enemies, disciplining Bethan Jenkins along with defending the right of Councillors to speak critically of officers would have struck the right note. Over Brexit, Plaid’s leadership has sadly ducked the opportunities to ally their stance with SNP’s and N Ireland’s non-UDP parties’ opposition to the hard-Brexit line – ie. hard borders are the only alternative to sticking with a ‘united’ UK. Repetitions of Wales being unready for independence were very sad, but at least Plaid never pursued Adam Price’s confederalism.

  28. I am not a left winger. I voted against Dafydd Elis Thomas’ move to position Plaid on the left of Welsh politics (a long time before Leanne’s leadership). I supported the Hydro Group in the 1982 conference. I am possibly the last of the Tom Ellis type Liberal Welsh Nonconformist preachers.

    One of the things that peeves me most about the current situation of the British Political narrative is it’s “Americanisation”, where liberals and One Nation Conservatives are perceived to be extreme left wingers.

    Plaid is not a “left wing” party, it is a party that supports social justice. Leanne and Adam and others may position themselves to the left of Welsh Labour, but there was little in the manifesto that I could disagree with from a nonconformist liberal perspective. Therein is one of Plaid’s problems, we are selling our Welsh product under an English Brand Name. It’s not English Left it’s Welsh Nat, FFS!

    Leanne has been the most “independence” supporting leader of Plaid since Saunders Lewis. Gwynfor, Wigley ,Elis-Thomas and Ieuan Wyn were all ambiguous, equivocal, nebulous, vague about the “I word”, Leanne has been the first leader in decades, if not ever, to unequivocally support independence for Wales (Saunders wanted “Dominion Status”)!

    I appreciate Jason’s frustration. I was in the count in Dolgellau in February 1974. A 15 year old kid thinking that I was witness to the beginning of a new dawn. I’m now an old fart who has seen virtually no progress in the national cause since. I have seen 5 changes in leadership of Plaid since, but, still, no progress!

    Leadership is not the problem, the problem is the Insanity of doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Like changing leaders! We don’t need a different leader of Plaid Cymru we need a different approach to promoting the national cause!

  29. Let me add to my point “don’t blame Leanne” for the leadership’s Brexit and McEvoy-bully failures. It was Adam Price who was arguing for a ‘confederalist’ UK, even though it can’t work for Ireland and the SNP rejects it. Leanne couldn’t lead on the defence of McEvoy, in view of personal friendship with his ex-partner and one of the attack-leaders. But many others of his AM-colleagues could have hit back at the tendentious reporting in the South Wales Echo and attack on Councillor rights to oppose their Council evictions, by depicting it as bullying of the officer (who just happened to be female).

  30. Sorry, is this a site to deal with Cymreig issues that a extremely important to Cymru or a British online rag of a tabloid? Because it is beginning to read like one already and an outlet for Geriatric Brexiteers who have little to do before the nurse comes to change them!

    Don’t like him, don’t like her, oh they’re left, that lot are right Duw!

    Round and round we go, where will it end nobody knows, WRONG! I do with our country becoming an English shire!

    • “Geriatric Brexiteers….” a nice line….. but adapted from English tabloids – Sky News on Twitter: Daily Express 15 Mar 2017 – once geriatric #brexiteers pass on, the young generation will reverse your #Brexshit madness. Doesn’t apply to these exchanges, Dafydd!

      • I must have heard it somewhere then Max?!

        I wouldn’t know about English tabloids or any other British controlled media my friend we don’t subscribe, have a lisence etc as we don’t want to subscribe to lies, deceit and utter crap!

        That does not mean we are not up to date with news as we use social media and scan all news networks especially, independent ones.

        As for these changes, I don’t see changes just the same old game of soundbites, remodelling of old ideas, no forward thinking, no Cymreig future just kept in limbo by people who continually confuse and because they cannot construct. Stuck on the same old roundabout and cannot find an exit. Wonder who said that?

        People need guidance, unity and hope if we are going to save our country from becoming an English playground along with the total demise of our culture.

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