Support our Nation today - please donate here

Former Plaid Cymru MP to celebrate 50 years since election

31 Aug 2023 3 minute read
MP Dafydd Wigley.

Dafydd Wigley’s election in 1974 was nothing short of seismic, gaining the constituency of Caernarfon from a Labour MP who had held the seat since the end of the Second World War.

On 28 February 1974 Dafydd Wigley was elected as the first Plaid Cymru MP for the constituency of Caernarfon, unseating Goronwy Roberts who had been the MP since 1945.

He gained the seat building on the success of Plaid Cymru candidate in 1970, Robyn Léwis. In five subsequent general elections he increased his party’s vote, proportion of the votes and his majority – the only MP of any party in Britain to have such an achievement during the twentieth century.

Wigley went on to represent the seat until the 2001 General Election by when he had been elected Caernarfon’s first member of Wales’ National Assembly, and its first Leader of the Opposition. He retired in 2003. In 2011 he was granted a life peerage and became a Member of the House of Lords.


He also served as Plaid Cymru party leader twice, from 1981-84 and 1991 to 2000, and following the death of Gwynfor Evans, he was elected Plaid Cymru’ s Honorary President.

He was educated at Caernarfon Grammar School, Rydal School, Colwyn Bay and Manchester University. Before becoming a Plaid Cymru MP he worked for Ford Motor Company, Mars and Hoover in Merthyr Tudful.

In 1972 Wigley became a councillor for the Park ward on Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council. He and his wife Elinor Bennett have lived in Bontnewydd since 1975.

After retiring from elected politics, Dafydd Wigley chaired the Board of Bangor University School of Business for eight years; and served as President of the National Library of Wales, before being appointed to the House of Lords in 2011.

And February 2024 will mark 50 years since his election as Member of Parliament, and a special event is to be held in Caernarfon to look back on Dafydd Wigley’s political career.

Political career

The event is part of a series of talks the former MP will hold to discuss his political career. Mr. Wigley said: “It’s been a tumultuous 50 years, from the failed devolution referendum of 1979 to the successful campaign in 1997.

“On a national level the first set of elections to our parliament in 1999 was the culmination of decades of hard campaigning and was an important milestone for me as a Plaid Cymru politician.

“In the House of Commons, I was a committed campaigner for the rights of disabled people and steered the Disabled Persons Act to the statute book in 1981.

“On a more local level, three industrial dimensions stand out: the successful campaign for pneumoconiosis compensation for slate quarrymen, the Ferodo workers lockout, and the establishment of the Euro-DPC factory at Llanberis, now part of Siemens Healthineers.

“I look forward to discussing these milestones more widely in the event in Caernarfon soon.”

‘Dafydd Wigley: 50 years of politics’, will be held in Stiwdio 1, Galeri Caernarfon 7pm 8 September.

Entry is free and entertainment will be held in Galeri’s bar area following the event. Simultaneous translation will be made available to non-Welsh speakers.

Those interested should follow the official Facebook event.

Support our Nation today

For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.

Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Dr Wyn Thomas
7 months ago

Dafydd Wigley is a fantastic politician – who furthered Plaid’s political ambitions admirably. Dafydd is also a thoroughly decent and able man who provided such important insights when I was writing ‘Tryweryn: A New Dawn?’. I remain utterly indebted to him. Many congratulations on such a wonderful anniversary – and fine political career.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
7 months ago

Wales desperately needs the caliber of Plaid’s Dafydd Wigley. Too many career politicians with no life experience are elected forgetting they are there to represent and serve their constituents first not themselves.

Richard E
Richard E
7 months ago

We owe Dafydd W so much and its great he is still so active. Speaking up for Wales and its peoples – not side tracked by trendy fads and press outbursts.

Health, Education and Community issues plus Employment and Culture based on respect for others served him and us well.

Our Supporters

All information provided to Nation.Cymru will be handled sensitively and within the boundaries of the Data Protection Act 2018.