‘Keep focusing on the job in hand if you want to govern Wales’, Senedd Llywydd tells Plaid
Plaid Cymru has to “keep focusing” on the job in hand if it wants to be in government in Wales, the Llywydd of the Senedd has said.
Talking to BBC Wales’ Bethan Rhys Roberts, standing in for Dewi Llwyd, on this morning’s programme on Radio Cymru, Ceredigion MS Elin Jones was quizzed on her party’s failure to gain power and more seats at this Senedd election.
She said: “I came out of the count in Llandysul with an excellent result – the best-ever for Plaid Cymru in Ceredigion but then seeing the results were not happening to the degree that I had wished to happen in other places in Wales and especially our inability to keep our only seat in the Valleys, the Rhondda – that means that Plaid Cymru has to ask questions of ourselves.
“How did we not succeed to break through – how did we not succeed in keeping the Rhondda also and, of course, the Plaid leaderhip has now asked to Dafydd Trystan (party chairman and former Plaid chief executive) to lead that work and we must ask the difficult questions of ourselves.
“We had a great many advantages in our favour – but we failed to turn that into seats in this election.”
Yn cadw cwmni i @bethanrhys bore 'ma am 8 @ElinCeredigion @elinhgj @gerainterees @llanbrynmair @Guto_Harri, Eleri Davies @IechydCyhoeddus @ffioneluned24 @Collen105 ac Andrew Hawke @geiriadur – digon i'w drafod! https://t.co/P9XxMgTXIo
— Radio Cymru (@BBCRadioCymru) May 23, 2021
Asked by Bethan Rhys Roberts if Labour had taken Plaid Cymru’s territory with their brand of “soft nationalism” under Mark Drakeford, Ms Jones replied: “Well, if they go and take our territory, then we must as a party go on their territory as well – and we have in our policies – very strong policies on health, social services and the economy and so on.
“But somehow we failed to relay that and that is what the people of Wales were looking for, which was an assurance that the next Senedd, the next government, would be delivering on those subjects. And so, Plaid Cymru has to keep focusing if we want to be the party which is in government and governing our country.
Talking about the last Senedd, Ms Jones said: “The last Senedd was very stormy to be honest; politically stormy with some big subjects hitting us – Brexit, of course, to start with – and it was stormy in terms of some of the individuals who were elected – some of them were Ukip members – others as well. And these Ukip members possibly had created some sort of big instability during the last period which, as soon as the Brexit matter had been completed, some of them turned to look for a way to keep their seats and to keep their salaries and to look to do that on a platform of abolishing the Senedd. And so, that was a challenge during the time of the election but the people of Wales were smarter than them and the people of Wales voted for parties which were unanimously in favour of keeping the Senedd.”
Ms Jones added that although the Ukip members had been elected in 2016, “they had showed a lack of respect for public debate and a lack of respect in public office.”
She said: “Quite often there were destructive voices rather than respect that people had different views.
“When Ukip were elected to the Senedd back in 2016, a large percentage had voted for them and had, of course, voted to leave the European Union. Of course, their voice had to be respected and their voice was heard but, that voice turned to be a disrespectful voice to the establishment itself and some of those individuals – one of them especially, Mark Reckless, he changed his parties during those five years five times!
“And so, they were looking to destabilise the Senedd and in the end were standing election, in their view, to win a seat to return to the next Senedd on a platform of abolishing the Senedd. But the people of Wales were smarter and, very politely I would say . . . Yes, good riddance to them.”
In answer to the question of increasing the numbers of Senedd members, Ms Jones said there was “independent and international evidence” to show that the Senedd is too small in numbers to carry out the work.
She said that the Senedd should have “80-90” members to scrutinise policies and that losing four Euro MPs from Wales and, possibly, reducing the number of Welsh MPs in Westminter means public savings will have been made.