The bottom line: Plaid Cymru must make gains

Plaid Cymru campaigning in Rhondda. Picture: RhonddaPlaid Twitter feed

Jason Morgan casts a critical eye over Plaid Cymru’s election campaign, and looks at the seats where they’re most likely to make gains…

For most of the past twenty years or so, Plaid Cymru’s election-time story has become almost formulaic.

Campaigns start hopeful and positive; then their members, elected representatives who should know better and supporters (particularly online) hype themselves and others in their echo chambers up; and the results are without exception hugely disappointing.

It’s all become a bit awkward and embarrassing, especially given the fact that the party has had more UK-wide coverage since 2015 than all but a few ever thought it would get.

Leanne Wood’s relatively high profile on both a Welsh and British level has yet to translate into seats and votes in any meaningful way.

Even the most recent elections for Welsh councils must privately feel somewhat underwhelming.

Although the party gained more councillors across Wales (and England for that matter) than any other bar the Conservatives, which may seem impressive, it was at a time of unique and historical weakness for their main rivals in local government, Labour.

It was a decent election, not a resounding result, with successes in some parts of Wales mirrored by huge disappointment in others.

‘Refreshing’

I get the impression that Plaid Cymru are being a little more realistic in this election.

The embarrassing #PlaidSurge hashtags and bizarre photoshops are nowhere to be found this year, and the party is obviously targeting some key seats rather than going for an all-out all-Wales campaign.

It has also turned up the nationalist rhetoric; something that I can frankly never recall the party doing in the devolution era.

The message is hardly revolutionary from the party perspective; Plaid Cymru always talks about making Wales’ voice heard in Westminster in the general election context; #DefendingWales is a mere tweaking of that sentiment.

They do however seem to be focussing more on the message, which is a departure from the policy-heavy ultra-detailed manifesto-centric campaign we saw last year. It’s refreshing.

‘Unprecedented’

So, we come to it: where can Plaid Cymru win, and what would be a success from them from an objective perspective?

The answer to this question is as always dependent upon the political context in which it is asked, which may well change during the next week.

As I write this, Labour is making a comeback in the polls even though people still don’t particularly like Jeremy Corbyn.

Theresa May is floundering and leading the most embarrassing Tory campaign since 2001 (‘24 Hours to Save the Pound’, remember?).

The Lib Dems aren’t really in it, and UKIP is irrelevant, as are the Greens.

In Wales, the polls have changed dramatically. From being up to 41% a month ago, the Conservatives have plummeted to (a still respectful) 34%, with Labour going up from 35% to 44%. Due to various factors, which I shan’t discuss here, that’s not that surprising.

Plaid Cymru however have seen their vote, although staying within the margin of error, slide down. Are the Welsh again succumbing to ‘Keep the Tories Out’ and voting Labour in their droves? I don’t know.

The last three Welsh Barometer polls have been unprecedented, not just with regard to the actual percentages but the swift changes seen between the second and third of those.

If things are as changeable as it appears, it’s difficult to make any solid assumptions about what lies ahead.

‘An additional seat is a must’

There are two ways of looking at it. We seem to be seeing and increasing polarization before the election, as we often do, which squeezes smaller parties, Plaid Cymru amongst them, making real gains more difficult.

However, if you target seats properly then you can buck trends in polls – the best example being the Liberal Democrats in 1997 who lost around 800,000 votes, but more than doubled their number of seats.

Some would argue that in the context of political polarization retaining three seats would be a good election for the nationalists.

However, sending three MPs to Westminster for what would be the fourth election consecutively would simply not be good enough.

Let’s be straight: Plaid Cymru need to make gains. An additional seat is a must – the most basic requirement.

Two more would be their best ever result and could therefore be considered successful. Anything else is edging on a stunning result. That is the bottom line.

Seat by seat

The earlier polls, both on a Wales and UK wide level, suggested that the Conservatives may come close in both Dwyfor Meirionnydd and Carmarthen East and Dinefwr.

That may have led to some pretty jittery conversations within the party, but the Tory lead is creaking and I would suggest that they are both safe at the moment, even if the 9% swing the Tories require in both isn’t beyond the realms of possibility.

However, the incumbency and obvious talents of Liz Savile-Roberts and Jonathan Edwards should be enough keep both seats with decent-to-healthy majorities.

In Arfon, it’s likely that Hywel Williams’ majority will also be comfortable. However, for smaller parties the possible elation of winning more seats is often vanquished by the dread of losing one of the few that they have, so I understand their apprehension.

The Labour upturn in the polls, if correct, would actually make it easier for Plaid Cymru to retain seats, but also more difficult to gain any. Life can be cruel.

On the assumption therefore that the Plaid Three should be returned, the party needs a gain somewhere else and maybe produce another win to count this a truly successful election.

I believe most people would agree that there are six seats to watch with regards to this: Ynys Môn, Ceredigion, Rhondda, Llanelli, Blaenau Gwent and Cardiff West. Let me offer a few brief comments on each.

Ynys Môn

Undoubtedly, this is the seat to watch in Wales. Ieuan Wyn Jones is back, and it’s difficult to agree that he’s not the clear, yes, clear favourite.

Jones stood as a candidate four times here from 1983 to 1997, and even the one time he lost in 1983 he still won over a thousand more votes than Albert Owen ever has.

Ynys Môn is about the right candidate, and when Plaid Cymru chooses the right candidate here they win (point in case: Rhun ap Iorwerth).

In truth, the party has chosen substandard or unsuitable candidates here since 2001, and whatever your opinion of the man, Ieuan Wyn Jones is probably the best man to bring the island back into the fold.

The 5,000 UKIP votes in 2015 here won’t just go to the Conservatives, and few of them came from Labour in the first place therefore aren’t “going home”: difficult as it is for some to fathom (particularly among the more leftist, Corbynesque wing of the party), I imagine a lot of them will go Plaid Cymru’s way.

This time, I honestly can’t see Plaid Cymru not winning here; however the question may be asked whether it is Plaid Cymru that will win, or Ieuan Wyn Jones.

On Ynys Môn, that’s an important point to consider, and a lesson to learn when choosing candidates in future.

Ceredigion

When Plaid Cymru lost Ceredigion in 2005, it hurt. It really, really hurt.

And when Mark Williams was returned in 2010 with a crushing majority, it hurt even more.

And it’s important to note, although the party trumpeted slashing Williams’ majority in 2015, they themselves won around 500 fewer votes than in 2010.

There are added complexities this time due to Brexit; this is after all a seat where the two leading parties were against Brexit; although Plaid Cymru have altered their stance somewhat which may aid them in Ceredigion.

The legacy of the 48% is hardly producing the hoped Lib Dem surge, after all, and perhaps some of their more Brexit-minded voters here might be tempted to take a punt on the Conservatives – this is, after all, a rural and small ‘c’ conservative constituency by and large.

It will also be interesting to see what happens to the Green vote here, which was over 2,000 strong last time. The possibilities in Ceredigion deserve a full article.

The main problem for Plaid Cymru here is, essentially, Mark Williams is a popular local MP; that may be the deciding factor.

However, in a situation mirroring post-Ieuan Wyn Jones Ynys Môn, Plaid Cymru’s candidates here have, since the Cynog Dafis era, been substandard or simply not a good match.

Even the ex-MP Simon Thomas, in spite of winning the 2000 by-election and subsequent general election, could hardly be described as a good fit for Ceredigion.

In Ben Lake, however, Plaid Cymru appear to have a strong candidate, who I am reliably informed is popular locally amongst many important voting blocks in Ceredigion (including students and farmers).

As in Ynys Môn then, the party this time around has a good constituency candidate. Ceredigion is certainly winnable (possibly more so than in 2010 and 2015), and uniting Y Fro Gymraeg under the Plaid banner would, while maybe reinforcing the view held in some quarters of the party being for Welsh-speakers only, certainly provide a boost, and definitely feel overdue.

Rhondda

I will just put this out there: Plaid Cymru can win the Rhondda in this election.

It’s not just because of last year’s result, followed by the local elections there this year. It’s not just because of Leanne Wood: although it certainly wouldn’t happen without her.

The raw statistics make Rhondda a possible gain. Although the 12% swing Plaid Cymru would require to win here looks daunting, that’s the same as convincing 3,728 people who voted Labour last time to switch.

With an energetic local campaign currently being fought, it’s possible. How many of the four thousand that voted UKIP will go through the ‘gate’ to the Conservatives, switch back to Labour, or could vote Plaid Cymru to give Labour a kicking?

Who knows but … enough might. It’s also noteworthy that Labour’s vote in Rhondda is half of what is was in 1997.

In saying that, a dose of realism is needed. Leanne Wood’s victory last year in the Rhondda may have been an easy one, but she still won 5,000 fewer votes than Chris Bryant did in 2015. Overturning him is still a gigantic task.

However, if Plaid Cymru is ever to win here in a Westminster election, this is one of those once-in-a-generation opportunities. Lose here after all the hype and they look silly. Win, and we may well see some floodgates opening.

Make no mistake about it, whatever happens in the Rhondda next week, it will be defining for the party.

Llanelli

A few years back, Llanelli was the place Plaid Cymru saw as its gateway to the rest of Wales (somewhat like Rhondda could be considered now). But since then it’s faded off the radar a bit.

Losing the Assembly seat in 2011, failing to attain the tiny 0.15% swing it needed in 2016 to recapture it, and a dismal result in 2015 (one of their worst results nationwide) show the party is going backwards here.

I’m not convinced that the party has rebuilt sufficiently to challenge this time, although UKIP’s demise may well be significant.

It’s interesting to note that when UKIP’s vote surged by 13.5% at the last general election, Labour’s vote only dropped 1% while Plaid Cymru’s fell by 7%. Llanelli is an excellent example of the complex interchangeability of votes.

Although, if the Tories’ push for working class votes goes back on the rails during the next week, Labour may leak votes to them in a place like Llanelli. It is debateable, however, whether Plaid Cymru would benefit from that enough to make Llanelli again an interesting seat, if they would benefit from it at all.

Blaenau Gwent

Blaenau Gwent is an odd seat. Traditionally on a Westminster level Labour would win here with a majority that was more than half the size of the electorate, such was their dominance.

However last year Plaid Cymru almost seized the Assembly seat; with a 28% swing, mainly due to the strong local campaign led by Nigel Copner.

It was even more of a shock because nobody outside of Blaenau Gwent saw it coming. He is again standing and already there are hopes that this may be a huge shock.

I’m somewhat wary of that. While a 28% swing directly from Labour to Plaid Cymru again would in fact result in that shock, those sorts of swings don’t really happen at general elections.

Some would point out Peter Law’s 2005 victory to counter that; he technically managed a 49% swing but he was a sort-of incumbent (being the AM), already had a base and the situation was unique.

That may be true of Nigel Copner but it’s probably not to the same degree.

Again, the UKIP vote could provide for an interesting result depending on where it goes in the same way it could in Llanelli.

Quite simply, Labour have to go into complete and utter meltdown to lose Blaenau Gwent this time, and with the polls suggesting somewhat of a Labour fightback, this is the type of seat where their vote might consolidate.

Ironically, it could also be the sort of seat where that happens! Realistically, a good second is what’s on the cards here.

Cardiff West

In spite of the closeness of the Assembly result, Cardiff West hasn’t really been mentioned as a possible shock, and that’s possibly because it isn’t Neil McEvoy that’s standing.

The earlier Welsh Barometers saw this as a possible Conservative, not Plaid Cymru, gain.

However, the swing required here is similar to that required in the Rhondda. The difference is that there is a strong Tory presence here, and the disappointing council elections for Plaid Cymru in the capital, seat-wise, must surely have been a bit disheartening.

What Plaid Cymru will surely be hoping for here is a decent rise in their vote, turning this one into a possible three-way marginal in future at Westminster with a view to capturing the seat at the Assembly level.

Conclusion

It’s noteworthy given that Plaid Cymru espouses itself as the Party of Wales, that it is only in a quarter of Welsh seats that they might truly challenge this year, and realistically is only favourite in four.

My gut feeling is that they may well find themselves foundering in most of Wales but getting some striking results in a handful of seats (much as they did in 2016).

However, seats are the only currency at Westminster. No gains yet again simply isn’t good enough – though it wasn’t last time either.

Put simply, Plaid Cymru cannot go on vegetating electorally, it needs gains outside its traditional heartlands and needs them fast. If the Welsh nation is at stake during this election, as the party insists, then so too is Plaid Cymru itself.

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33 Comments

  1. Meurig Parri

    Plaid’s problem is that it tries to compete with Labour in defending Wales’ interests. A laudable object, but impractical.
    I suspect many Welsh people want to see a redistribution of income by higher taxes on the highest paid. Labour – in government – can deliver on that. Plaid can’t.
    I suspect Wales would like to see a reversal of the botched Universal Credit arrangements. Again, Labour can deliver. Plaid – unless there are major changes to the devolution settlement – can’t.
    And the same is true of other things which would “defend Wales’ interests”; nationalisation of rail, scrap Trident, end the energy cartel, stop bombing the Middle East, brexit negotiations with the EU, etc.
    But where Plaid does have a huge advantage, which it doesn’t use, is with constitutional issues. What sort of relationship do Welsh people want their country to have with the other countries of these islands? Plaid has allowed unionists to take the high ground by scaring people with the word ‘independence’.
    I’ve never once heard Plaid come back forcefully with a vision of a co-operative group of self-governing nations working in equal partnership for the common good.
    I can scarcely think of anyone I know in Wales who disagrees with that ambition.
    And achieving that constitutional settlement is the key to having a meaningful voice in the decisions taken in Westminster.
    Plaid should raise its sights higher than having 3, 4 or 5 MPs who possibly might – if there’s a hung parliament – squeeze a little influence with the hundreds of Labour and Tory MPs who surround them on the green benches.

    • “I’ve never once heard Plaid come back forcefully with a vision of a co-operative group of self-governing nations working in equal partnership for the common good.
      I can scarcely think of anyone I know in Wales who disagrees with that ambition.”

      Is that not independence?

  2. Great detailed ‘meaty’ analysis.

  3. Andy Collins

    You say 28% swings dont happen in General Elections they did in Scotland & one day will in Wales. More likely to be preceded by Assembly surge but one day a straw will break the camel’s back. Plaid will be a force to be reckoned with. The question is when. It took 70 years for the national party of Scotland to live up to its name. The Party of Wales will be one day its Government. I hope its soon. Cymru Am Byth

    • That’s almost exactly what he said. Swings of that degree are more likely in the Assembly. And the Assembly is where Plaid would win government, not Westminster.

  4. cambrouidunlainge

    Problem with Plaid is… well lets take a look at their manifesto for the election… They are protecting our identity… they say it on the first page than that was that. Which identity is that? Welsh language? Culture? History? All of the above? Because a lot of people still feel they’re the Welsh language party. History defines our country, defines a static identity which we all share… The Blue Books, Owain Glyndwr, Capel Celyn – but I don’t see Plaid making that central to their campaign – and we’re talking acts throughout the last 600-900 years which show this relationship with London has never really changed. Best thing for Plaid is they do not capitalise… because they will carry on trundling along like they have for thirty to forty years rather than making the changes they need to actually make the meaningful progress that the SNP have done in that time.

    Language, Culture, History. All one thing: our identity. Promoting one without the others is utterly futile. Promote them all and you’ve got yourself one nation and one people regardless of class and political alignment.

  5. Neil McEvoy

    I’m not sure how the Cardiff local government results could be described as disappointing. We had a huge load of new candidates who achieved a 77% increase in vote in Cardiff West. We also got more votes than Labour as an average in the constituency. We won 3 seats, but are crucially now second in a further 20. We are also in striking distance in a further 5 seats. We are developing city wide now, not just in the West. Who could have imagined that 10 years ago? Cardiff Plaid will go into the next Council elections with a realistic chance of being able to win outright control; if and it is a crucial “if” , we can continue the growth and progress we have seen in recent years. We take nothing for granted and will make sure we succeed by sheer hard work, combined with a continued clever political strategy.

  6. In terms of the complex interchangeability of votes, having just voted for Jonathan Edwards, I know someone in this constituency who had been a lifelong Labour voter, but lost confidence in them. So he switched to Plaid over the last couple of elections for various things. It was the natural party for him to switch to – a Welsh speaking Welshman, Welsh to his bones in other ways, he automatically switched to Plaid, especially as it is strong in the area. But for this one he is saying he will vote for the Tories. When I asked why, his reply was a shake of the head and “Oh, that Leanne Wood!”. He isn’t the only person I know to have expressed such opinions.

    Now, one can either laugh risibly at him, calling him an idiot, saying he is thick, that Leanne Wood is marvellous and what on earth does he think of Theresa May – or acknowledge that Leanne Wood is not a universal vote winner. I would never vote Tory, but when Labour does badly, the Tories do well- there are people who switch between the two. And if Plaid are unable to hang on to voters even such as he, in this area, then maybe there is something wrong with the party. The Labour Party does not have the natural right to have people vote for them simply because they are Welsh and care about their country and community – neither does Plaid Cymru. They both have to earn it.

    In terms of pushing the nationalist rhetoric, as mentioned in the article, one often gets the impression that Leanne Wood is more concerned with being seen as an effective leader of progressive politics rather than being seen as a pusher of nationalist rhetoric – and that someone like Adam Price is more concerned with being seen as a prominent political thinker by some British/worldwide elite than in pushing nationalist rhetoric. Thankfully, Jonathan Edwards is such a good MP that his position in this constituency is, I believe, assured. A man who can speak intelligently, forcefully and succinctly- and who doesn’t shy back from nationalist rhetoric. He is, however, head and shoulders above most people in the party (not a surprise – this is not to do down Plaid Cymru, there are very few good MP’s in any party), and he would make a damn fine leader- the best, head and shoulders above anyone else (now that Helen Mary Jones is not, at the moment, an option. And I’m not sure Neil McEvoy is leadership material – damn fine though he is to have as someone fighting for Wales, horses for courses.) But I have no idea if Jonathan Edwards has any ambitions in that direction. I hope so.

    • CambroUiDunlainge

      “a Welsh speaking Welshman, Welsh to his bones in other ways” <<< Is that suggesting what it sounds like its suggesting? Also is the fact hes a Welsh speaking Welshman why hes not a big fan of Valleys born English speaking Leanne? (Who I am a fan of and thought did pretty well in the debate last night).

      • I don’t know. What do you think it is suggesting? He is Welsh, Welsh speaking, also Welsh in that he defines himself as Welsh and would not think of himself as any other nationality- hence Welsh to his bones in other ways. And no, the fact that Leanne Wood is not a native Welsh speaker from birth (she is a Welsh speaker) has nothing to do with it (I remember him having a go at someone for complaining about English speaking incomers to the area – not that I necessarily agreed with everything he said) and I can’t see why you would have thought that from what I said. It is more that many people I know in a Plaid voting area are unimpressed with Leanne Wood because she seems to be pushing herself as a leader of progressive politics rather than pushing nationalist rhetoric. Unlike Jonathan Edwards, thankfully.

      • But if when Labour does badly, people will leave the Labour Party. The main people gaining from this will be either the Conservatives or Plaid Cymru. Whether you or I think Leanne Wood is good or not is immaterial- the election results show that people are not using Plaid Cymru as the main escape from Labour. The anecdotal evidence I gave is illustrative of what I have heard from such people- that they are not that impressed with Leanne Wood. People think she is a nice, good person- but this is not reflected in voting for Plaid Cymru, as that is not necessarily what people want in a leader. Coming from an area where people vote for Plaid Cymru, even the ones habitually voting for Plaid Cymru do not do it because they are impressed by the leadership of Leanne Wood. The personal vote in favour of Jonathan Edwards is important, the “natural” vote in favour of Plaid Cymru is important, but I haven’t heard support for Leanne Wood as a reason for continuing to vote for Plaid Cymru as a reason- or certainly for changing vote to Plaid Cymru. Just the opposite, in fact, as I say. Certainly, in areas where Plaid Cymru is not a force, Plaid Cymru voters are very supportive of her- and, fair play to her, she did very well in the Rhondda as an individual – hard work goes a long way, and Plaid Cymru has neglected areas of South Wales where they have previously done well for far too long – but this has not been translated to voting widely.

        • CambroUiDunlainge

          I agree with you about the progressive avenue Plaid appears to be taking. I was saying to a friend just a few days ago its like they tried to move in the right direction by choosing some one from the Valleys and ended up getting hijacked into an alternative Labour Party masquerading as a nationalist party and it literally feels skin deep at the moment. I think the leadership and direction is more than just Leanne Wood though. I think they focus to much on Socialism (even though I am a Socialist I guess) and Leanne’s go over Republicanism a few years ago did make me cringe a bit – never felt Republicanism is part of our culture nor identity – no fan of the Windsors by all means. I just think its our job to maintain our identity and not choose what aspects are convenient and what are not. Thing is with Leanne – shes a genuine person – but will the new voters in the Valleys swing back to Labour if she goes? Will Jonathan Edwards appeal the same way outside the Plaid heartlands? Some ways he’d be a few step forward – others maybe a few steps back. The Green Party has the right idea with Co-leaders.

        • I’d alos add that It’s hard to be seen as the alternative to Labour when so many elected members spend the next 5 years arguing for a coalition with Labour. It feeds in to the idea of vote Plaid get Labour and it also weakens our hand by making Labour seem like the lesser of two evils (even if it is)

          • Got some sympathy with that. Though in this election the Tories, not Plaid, have done the job of making Labour seem like the lesser of two evils. The Tory campaign is coming across as downright worse than Labour on policy, Prime Ministerial candidate and on competence.

    • ” Leanne Wood is more concerned with being seen as an effective leader of progressive politics rather than being seen as a pusher of nationalist rhetoric – and that someone like Adam Price is more concerned with being seen as a prominent political thinker by some British/worldwide elite than in pushing nationalist rhetoric”

      Completely true. until Plaid realize that Leanne is no demigod then there is no hope for the party. And I agree that Adam is simply not the person to take over the role after her

    • Unsure about this, but just goes to show how people can get a different message from the same leader. On TV she made a very direct attack on Welsh Labour to Jeremy Corbyn, which I thought was spot on and not cosy or “progressive”. She banged on about Wales, possibly too much. Framing her as not using nationalist rhetoric seems odd compared to the things she said on TV. But it all goes to show that different messages come out.

      • No, it doesn’t “seem odd”. It simply means that mentioning Wales is not the same thing as using Nationalist rhetoric. The fact that people complain at the mere mention of Wales does not alter this fact.

  7. Nice clear analysis and interesting responses. I am so very fond of Plaid that I joined them. Only time I have joined a party and might be the last. I never used to be even though I am a Welsh-speaker, a republican and believe in “a co-operative group of self-governing nations working in equal partnership for the common good” first and Independence as an inevitable function of the devolutionary process. I joined last year post Brexit because of the absolutely appalling way the Labour Party failed. It saw a Tory Prime Minister resign, the lead of the Brexit team resign and could have forced an election and won it hands down. Instead it got bogged down in a war for the leadership that could have had the same exciting and politically lethal outcome as a season of Game of Thrones but for their utter incompetences and their inability to read how the people of Britain were feeling. So I joined Plaid Cymru because we all do need to mobilise ourselves and it seems to me that the relationship with England has reverted to pre WW2 imperialism. Others may disagree. I don’t really care. It’s what I can do and I do rather think that the UK is terminal and do not want to end up as a country that doesn’t exist or part of a protectorate run by a neo-Nazi , kleptocracy next door.

    What is true about this is the opening and close of the piece. We do need to win and win well. We need to decide whether the Labour Party in Wales will die of its own indifference or needs to be killed. The SNP were more ruthless but they could see that Scottish Labour, full of heroes of mine was becoming increasingly irrelevant to the people of Scotland and those who would normally have voted for a progressive social democratic party with welfare and culture at its helm. Plaid isn’t doing that. Leanne Wood is fantastic at what she does and most of my English friends wish she’d join the Labour Party. Her analysis of the Tories is right but we are not facing down ignorance. We live in the ruins of Thatcherism every day. We are fighting the wrong war. “Language, Culture, History. All one thing: our identity. Promoting one without the others is utterly futile.” yes and for those of us who don’t have Welsh as a language our culture has to show a proud Trade Unionist past and a cultural heritage across the world because we are not all Welsh speakers, we don’t all live in rural communities and we don’t all have to send our kids abroad because they have no jobs and nowhere they can live. but we do share all our cultures.

    At the moment we don’t have a leader taking on Labour in Wales. Without that we’re shafted. The Assembly gives us a Labour Party with “clear red water” between it and Westminster and the analysis is right. Plaid cannot make solutions in Westminster unless there is a coalition and four or six Welsh MPs is movement in the right direction but it’s not enough votes to force Westminster to devolve more to Wales and split the UK tax take fairly. I reckon the immediate aim is to establish Plaid as a party that stands up for Wales in Westminster and has serious ambitions to govern Wales. To do that we have to replace Labour as the go to party with commonsense economic and social policy working to grow a common culture for the good of all. That’s achievable.

    • CambroUiDunlainge

      “yes and for those of us who don’t have Welsh as a language our culture has to show a proud Trade Unionist past and a cultural heritage across the world because we are not all Welsh speakers, we don’t all live in rural communities and we don’t all have to send our kids abroad because they have no jobs and nowhere they can live. but we do share all our cultures.”

      My point was Welsh language does not unite us all, and Plaid are still seen as the Welsh speaking party. Our history and culture unite us all regardless of class, location and background. Whether people are aware of it or not its likely that the Treachery of the Blue Books was an attack which likely effected who they are today – an example being myself – a monolingual English speaker who is very aware that Welsh language has been lost in recent generations with the overall decline of our language. That is something I share with many others – but I may not speak Welsh, but I am every bit as Welsh as anyone else.

      • Tellyesin

        Sorry, poorly put on my part. I should put it differently. you are right. Speaking Welsh is not all of us and we need to look at Wales as something other than the remnant of the roman province of Britannia. And yes the Blue Book sand the Welsh Not and all the other experiences inform who we are now.

  8. Fantastic article.

    However I think there’s one massive elephant in the room- the Plaid leadership.

    LW winning Rhondda is a great achievement. But apart from this, we’ve been fairly stagnant in terms of results elsewhere.

    I therefore feel we need fresh leadership… somebody more charismatic (AP?) with LW as deputy maybe??

    • We need a leader in Plaid Cymru who is concerned with pushing Wales as a first idea. Pushing the nationalist agenda by pushing the nationalist rhetoric, as said in the article. Leanne Wood seems more concerned with being seen as one of the leaders of a coalition of progressive politics (something I agree with, but Wales should be foremost in what Plaid Cymru is pushing) rather than someone pushing a nationalist rhetoric. I liked Adam Price, and was happy to vote for him – but now he seems to have been caught up in wanting to be seen as a ” formidable political thinker” by an elite in Wales, Britain and the World rather than pushing a Welsh nationalist rhetoric (I remember hearing a constituent say to him that he was “mwy am y byd na Betws” – more concerned about the world than Betws, and I have to agree. Jonathan Edwards, his successor to the seat has come on in leaps and bounds to my mind. Able to speak about Wales intelligently, forcefully and succinctly, not afraid to push the nationalist agenda. I have no idea if he has designs on the leadership, but I hope he does. He would be damned good. He would be what Plaid Cymru, and Wales, needs.

  9. vicky moller

    Appreciate the article. If you love Wales, Plaid has a future no matter what the election result. It is not optional, as other parties are. You can hate the rich and join Labour or fear the populus and join Tories or hate Europe and join UKIP and so on. Love of the land and the people is not a choice, it happens.
    However I also feel Plaid need a step change to prosper. Plaid has an embarrassment of potential leaders, unlike other parties whose embarrassment goes the other way. My view is that the party is too tiny and it needs to join that great strand of the people who think and care about the future. Not everyone bothers to, but there are enough of them to run a country, if their collective wisdom and energy were unleashed and coordinated.

  10. I’m a Plaid voter through and through and also consider myself a ‘progressive’. But the trouble with Plaid is that they see their main opponents as being the Tories. They aren’t.

    The places where Plaid needs to make gains are in Labour seats and Plaid must start positioning itself as being anti-Labour, which has run Wales into the ground (much more so than the Tories) in a century of arrogant misrule.

    Unfortunately, Plaid spends 3 or 4 weeks in an election campaign attacking Labour but then spends the rest of the 5 year term cosying up to them in the vain hope of creating some sort of ‘progressive alliance’.

    By painting the Tories as the common enemy, Plaid buys into the whole wasted vote narrative that sees their own vote squeezed. If the most important thing in this election is stopping the big bad Tories from winning then Plaid is almost inviting people to vote Labour.

    Plaid have a fear of being branded ‘green Tories’ so they insist on engaging in a political willy waving contest with Labour of ‘we hate the Tories more than you’. This means that they give up any chance of attacking Labour consistently and miss opportunities to do so from the centre or even the right (the Irish example shows how independent countries can use taxation policy for economic growth).

    The SNP positioned itself as being firmly anti-Labour and adopted centre/centre left policies to do so. Their attacks on the Tories were mostly cultural, successfully branding them as ‘un Scottish’.

    My son is voting for the first time in this election. He supports Plaid, voted for them in the locals and will do so again in Assembly elections. But in this election he has bought into the line that stopping the Tories is all that counts and so intends to vote Labour.

    Plaid needs to show why voting Labour is as unpatriotic if you’re Welsh as voting Tory is.

    • What he said ^^^^

      Can’t agree more. There are some in Plaid who really should be in Corbyn’s Labour party

    • I agree – the tribalism between the left leaning parties towards each other is not helpful.

      I really wish we’d accept as both the UK and in the Senedd that there’s nothing fundamentally awful about a coalition. Plenty of succesful countries have them routinely.

      With that issue out of the way you might be able to reduce the constant “Arggh you must vote Labour because they’re the only way of keeping the Tories out” or “Argggh you must vote Tory or else you’ll get chaos” and be able to make sensible, non-fear-driven decisions based on policies not tribal party lines – and I say that even as a current Plaid member who’s been out tromping leaflets round the place.

  11. My question, before I comment is, who is Jason Morgan?

    • I’d like to see Nation.cymru routinely linking to bio of their writers so we have some context – on the whole this is BETTER journalism – the comment threads are certainly more civil but bios of contributers would up the game further still.

  12. Gary Jomes

    Plaid in Llanelli dumped their local organiser Sean Rees, and imposed Mari Arthur, the result being several Plaid have not campaigned for her.

  13. Llywelyn ap Gwilym

    Plaid Cymru – the Party of Wales?

    For too long Plaid has claimed to be the party of Wales, while demonstrably failing to connect with the majority, or even a significant minority, of the populace (look at the percentage of the popular vote that Plaid has secured at historic General and Assembly Elections). The local elections can be viewed as favourable (increasing support as Neil McEvoy rightly points out) or disappointing (given the backdrop of a then-imploding Labour party). However, the latest YouGov poll, for what it’s worth, puts Plaid on 8% of the popular vote next Thursday – which would be the worst result since 1987.

    Plaid needs to decide what it stands for and what it wants to be. Is it a nationalist party pushing for independence (the rhetoric here seems to have softened over the past few years)? Is it a party exclusively for Welsh speakers (a characterization that seems to be hard to drop)? Is it an alternative to Labour, or to the Conservatives? Is it something else?

    The messaging this election has been consistent and clear: Plaid is the party for everyone who wants to make Wales home, be they Welsh-born or not, Welsh-speaking or not. On this last point, I think it needs to be stressed more clearly that Plaid in not a party of language, as this is a perception that persists. Equally importantly, I don’t think that Plaid should shy away from the goal of independence. The YouGov poll for YesCymru demonstrated that not only is support for independence stronger than previously supposed, but that it is cross-party, cross-generational and across-geography. To me this is the clearest way that Plaid can differentiate itself from Labour policy-wise (at least until Welsh Labour formally separates from English Labour and is whipped and votes accordingly).

    Plaid needs to better understand why Labour voters, who should intuitively share a large number of common values, are turned off by Plaid, despite Wales being the poorest nation in Western Europe under their watch. It needs to leave its bubble, break out of its traditional heartland and away from its traditional base, and work on appealing to a broader demographic without alienating its core support. Plaid should be in it for the long-game, taking a strategic view of building sustainable, sticky support over years and decades in order to build a fairer, more equal, independent Wales. If it happens sooner then fantastic, but they should plan for a long campaign.

  14. The local organiser in llanelli has failed in several elections. Why should he stand?

  15. Plaid Cymru is either a national and a nationalist party or else it’s just a regional socialist party, forever reaching out to other ‘progressives’ at the expense of Wales and Welsh identity. It’s been the latter for too long. If the choice is replacing Plaid Cymru or losing Wales then the decision should be easy.

    • desdelguinardo

      I’m still waiting for the Jac o’the North nationalist right wing front to come to fruition, but I think that he’s too busy writing his blog

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