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Dafydd Elis-Thomas abandons bid to rejoin Plaid Cymru

06 Nov 2023 4 minute read
Dafydd Elis-Thomas AM at the at the Celebration of the Mace official opening of the Senedd. Picture by the National Assembly (CC BY 2.0).

Martin Shipton

Former Plaid Cymru leader Dafydd Elis-Thomas has given up on his hope of rejoining the party after being asked to argue his case before a disciplinary-style panel.

In August he said he planned to rejoin Plaid seven years after controversially leaving it.

He was the then National Assembly’s Presiding Officer during its first three terms, from 1999 until 2011, and after leaving Plaid Cymru he sat as an Independent, serving for four years as Deputy Culture Minister between 2017 and 2021. He then stood down from the Senedd at the last election.

In an interview with ITV Wales screened on S4C’s news programme Newyddion, Lord Elis-Thomas said he regarded rejoining Plaid as his “homecoming”. He praised the party’s “different direction” under its new leader, Rhun ap Iorwerth.

After leaving Plaid in 2016, he accused Plaid under its then leader Leanne Wood of being unwilling to play a serious role in government. But he made it clear in his S4C interview that such doubts had been dispelled.

He said: “I have been so impressed by the new leadership of Rhun ap Iorwerth. I think highly of him, and I think his current attitude gives Plaid Cymru a new opportunity to develop wider support and I want to support that.”

The peer said he was “keen to show willingness” to support the Iorwerth leadership, adding that a leader who is “more open to gaining support across the political spectrum… is important to the development of the party in the coming years”.

Lord Elis-Thomas has been widely credited with helping to move the devolution agenda forward in the then National Assembly’s early years.

First elected as a Plaid Cymru MP in 1974 for the then seat of Merioneth, he remained in the House of Commons until 1992, serving as party leader between 1984 and 1989.

After stepping down from the Commons he was made a life peer, sitting as a crossbencher. Later he chaired the Welsh Language Board.

He returned to elected politics in 1999, being elected as an Assembly Member for Meirionnydd Nant Conwy and then Dwyfor Meirionnydd.

He had a troubled relationship with Leanne Wood when she was party leader, publicly criticising her on several occasions.


After leaving Plaid, he faced calls to resign his seat and force a by-election, but refused to do so. At the time Rhun ap Iorwerth told BBC Wales that Elis-Thomas had “disappointed a great many” voters.

During his S4C interview in August 2023, Lord Elis-Thomas said he had left Plaid because “I thought it was very important that the centre-left parties always work together to protect the institution from those who were trying to undermine it. In the party… there was a period where there was an emphasis on the correctness of a kind of nationalism that we considered a bit old fashioned, but now the party and Plaid Cymru’s approach sounds to me much more open.”

He acknowledged that some people would not welcome him back: “Some people have always been unhappy with some of the things I have said. But because I’m not chasing anything at my age [76] this is my homecoming,” he said.

We have now established that Lord Elis-Thomas’ bid to rejoin Plaid was not automatically accepted by the party. A well-placed source told Nation.Cymru that Plaid had a number of concerns about the former leader’s application for re-admission, including his decision to endorse the Labour candidate, David Taylor, in the 2016 Police and Crime Commissioner election in North Wales instead of the Plaid candidate Arfon Jones, who turned out to be the winner..

Lord Elis-Thomas was told that his application would have to be considered by a panel consisting of former Rhondda Cynon Taf councillor Alun Cox, a close ally of Ms Wood, and Gwynedd councillors Beca Brown and Cai Larsen.

The well-placed source told us: “None of the three panel members were likely to be sympathetic to Dafydd Elis-Thomas and he decided not to pursue his application to rejoin.”

A spokesman for Plaid Cymru said: “I would be breaching his data privacy rights under GDPR by commenting.”

Lord Elis-Thomas did not wish to comment.

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5 months ago

Amser i symud ymlaen?

Richard E
Richard E
5 months ago

Diolch i Dduw ein Arglwydd 😅

Steffan Gwent
5 months ago

Plaid Cymru disciplinary panels can be rather fickle. One of them allowed disgraced MP Jonathan Edwards back into the party last year. Dafydd El however must be beyond the pale.

Jones Arfon
Jones Arfon
5 months ago

That is good news.

Dewi Evans
Dewi Evans
5 months ago

For goodness sake! How uncharitable can Plaid get? Have we reached a level of intolerance that would embarrass religious fundamentalists?

Dafydd El could be “hard work” and not always the greatest team player. What cannot be questioned is his achievements at the founding of the then Assembly and his earlier contribution as one of our few MPs at Westminster.

So let’s give him back his membership- no questions asked. ‘Parch’ bobol bach.

Meanwhile Leanne Wood’s supporters can concentrate on writing the substantive document describing her achievements for Rhondda, Plaid Cymru and Wales. Shouldn’t take long.

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