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Ex-Plaid leader and top academic clash over election campaign ‘embarrassment’

02 Jun 2021 3 minutes Read
Dafydd Wigley and Richard Wyn Jones. Pictures by Plaid Cymru.

A former Plaid Cymru leader and a top academic have clashed over the party’s Senedd election campaign “embarrassment”.

Dafydd Wigley has responded to criticism from Professor Richard Wyn Jones, Director of Cardiff University’s Wales Governance Centre.

Writing in the Welsh language current affairs magazine Barn, Jones described the campaign as a “mess”, and suggested the party was “no closer” to understanding how to win votes from Labour than it was 10 years ago.

He added that the party’s tendency to overhype their own electoral hopes had been “insanely foolish”.

In response Dafydd Wigley challenged the suggestion that Plaid has a problem in learning from its failures.

He told Golwg360: “I personally believe we have learned an awful lot through looking very carefully at the campaigns that have succeeded and the campaigns that have failed.

“I remember the biggest failure, of course, it was – and this isn’t only Plaid’s failure – the disastrous referendum in 1979.

“We learned a lot from that, and it took us a few years to implement what we had learned.

“But that led to a situation where we were able to campaign a lot more effectively in the 1990s. And that made the difference. I don’t have a scintilla of doubt.

“Then came the [successful devolution] referendum [in 1997] and our success in [the first election to the Senedd] in 1999.”

Richard Wyn Jones responded to the article in Golwg360, saying: “Another one of Plaid’s stalwarts saying I’m incorrect! Worth reading even if it isn’t always obvious that people have read what I said?!

“I note that I mentioned PC’s (Plaid Cymru) failure to learn lessons in the last decade – so I’m not sure how 1979 is relevant”.

‘Obvious truth’ 

In Barn he called on the party’s supporters to acknowledge an “obvious truth, that Plaid Cymru’s national campaign in the 2021 election has been an embarrassment and a mess”.

“Plaid Cymru had a series of unconnected local campaigns which once again failed to realise that their best hope of gaining ground was on the list and that they should encourage Labour voters to lend them their second, regional vote according to the academic.

“If there was more effort in this direction then it may be that Carrie Harper would now be a Member of Parliament and Plaid Cymru opening an exciting new chapter in its history in the north-east,” he said.

“This was also another election when Plaid Cymru failed to manage expectations,” he added, saying that “overhyping electoral hopes have now developed into a sort of sickness within the Party”.

“The difference between Plaid Cymru and the Labour Party in this respect was illuminating: Labour knew long before 6 May that they wanted to overthrow Leanne Wood in the Rhondda and, indeed, thought it likely they would win very easily,” he said.

“However, it was only in the latter days of the campaign that information began to circulate widely in the political world. Labour knows there will be plenty of opportunity for celebration once the victory was sealed.”

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Dai Rob
Dai Rob
11 days ago

dAF WAS A GOOD POLITICIAN IN HIS DAY, BUT HE’S NOW WILDLY OUT OF TOUCH WITH MST PEOPLE IN wALES!! *CAPS

Jack
Jack
11 days ago

Wigley’s defensiveness is unfortunately reflective of an attitude within Plaid that does them no good. A lot of Plaid supporters epitomise the best example of a echo chamber I’ve seen. Even on the morning of 7th May, there were some predictions going around that they could be only a few seats short of being the largest party. Adam Price spent the entire campaign talking about not being a junior partner & was considered by some to be a ‘First Minister in waiting’. After the election results came in, and none of this came even remotely close to happening, the results… Read more »

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
11 days ago
Reply to  Jack

A moral victory just like Corbyn’s…It is time for the old guard to leave the field of battle. Their nests are feathered. What good do these Welsh Lords do with their mouths stuffed with gold, unable to speak on devolved matters, they have no voice or purpose!

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
11 days ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

Cymru fy has no need of titles, just men and women of integrity who put the Gweryn first and bring the four quarters of Wales together again. Only then can we entertain the idea of independence and only if those in the Senedd are the best Wales has to offer.

Grayham Jones
11 days ago

Plaid have got to stop telling people about the economy in wales and start telling people about independent and about incomers taking home off young welsh people it’s time to put wales first and selling a Free Wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 stop being little Englanders and be proud to be welsh if that’s upsetting the English in wales that’s fine put Wales first I was chairman of Plaid in the Rhondda in the 80s we was only fighting for a Independent Wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 first

Richard Edwards
Richard Edwards
11 days ago

Plads issue is its current focus only on small groups of elected members working together on their own priorities.

Their lack of a real branch structure outside core areas and the powerlessnes of the volunteers within party policy models has not enabled those who might / could be energised
to take part. Yrs Cymru has offered many a platform to fill that gap

David
David
11 days ago

Think of it. The SNP gained nearly 1,000,000 list votes to get about 2 MSP’s but if those votes were given to the Alba party there could have been about 20+ extra nationalist members but what they got was Unionist(Labour/Conservative/Lib Dems) members.

Huw Powell
Huw Powell
11 days ago

When Plaid ran a successful campaign back in 2007, they made sure that if they didn’t win Aberconwy, they had a good chance of a second north Wales seat. Dafydd Wigley was the second candidate on the list, with a campaign aimed squarely at Labour supporters. It certainly succeeded with the former Labour MP for Clwyd West, who endorsed him. In the event, Plaid won Aberconwy, but they didn’t this time. So it’s hard to see why he doesn’t at least accept Richard Wyn’s point about Carrie Harper.

Gareth
Gareth
11 days ago
Reply to  Huw Powell

All this talk about Carrie Harper.
Am I the only one who remembers that disgusting and pathetic billboard in Wrexham?

CJPh
CJPh
11 days ago
Reply to  Gareth

Yes, that wasn’t a good look. There was quite a bit of nonsense and mud slinging all over the election trail. Maybe we could unclutch our pearls now though?

Shame for Carrie Harper, she seems like she’d be a great addition to our senedd.

Cymro Cymraeg
Cymro Cymraeg
10 days ago

Plaid currently hold the constituencies of Ynys Mon, Arfon, Dwyfor Meirionydd, Ceredigion and Chaerfyrddin – the same constituencies which they held in the 1980’s and 1990’s of the last century! Not much progress since! They didn’t hold the Rhondda, failed to gain Aberconwy and Llanelli – which were incidendtly in the bag if you listened to Plaid, and also failed to come near to winning the ‘knife edge’ seats of Caerffili, Wrecsam and Cardiff West!

Last edited 10 days ago by Cymro Cymraeg

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