Neil McEvoy’s new Welsh National Party sets its sights on disengaged voters
Confirmation last week that independent AM Neil McEvoy had registered the name The Welsh National Party with the Electoral Commission, while hardly unexpected, is strategically an interesting move as the slow build-up to the 2021 Senedd elections gets underway.
Since he was temporarily expelled by Plaid Cymru in 2018 McEvoy fought a protracted battle to overturn his exclusion to no avail. It was clear there was no way back for him in the party after a bid to replace ex-Arfon AM Alun Ffred Jones as Plaid Cymru Chair failed during the party’s annual conference in Swansea last October. Dr Dewi Evans, who had expressed support for allowing independent McEvoy back into the party, was defeated in the conference vote.
With the official launch of the new party at the Hilton hotel in Cardiff on April the 3rd, McEvoy was in a bullish mood as he looked forward to getting the ball rolling as the first person of colour to front a Welsh political party.
“We are a party of activists and we are people that want to get things done,” he said, shying away from defining the party in terms of left or right he says of the new organisation.
“We call ourselves a sovereignist party. Clearly, we want national sovereignty for Wales but also there is the issue of individual sovereignty, where today in Wales people don’t have the rights they should.
“We need to empower people and that’s the key message really. We need independent people to enable a sovereign Welsh nation.”
Confirming the new party will be funded by the membership and will field candidates at all levels Welsh elections – council, Senedd and Westminster – in the future, McEvoy believes there is a large and untapped pool of potential voters that can be harnessed to support the WNP.
“There are 50% of people in Wales who don’t actually vote, so what we want to do is engage with these people and give them a reason to vote,” he said.
“The Assembly is simply not working for north Wales – it’s not working for Butetown, which is just 400 metres from the Senedd.
“We need to look at housing, solve the housing crisis – there is no excuse for people to be homeless in today’s society. And you walk around Cardiff – it’s shameful! You walk around any town, any city in Wales.
“These are crucial issues that need to be addressed. And we have had 20 years of a Labour Government and to be frank without serious opposition. So, we intend to be serious opposition.”
Citing the success he had in increasing support in Cardiff West for Plaid Cymru prior to his expulsion from the party, he said that he was very optimistic about the party’s prospects.
“People are crying out for a change and my whole political track record is bringing people into the arena of politics,” he said.
“When I started off in the council, in my local ward, we increased the turnout by 25%. Also, if you look at Cardiff West, over the time I’ve been campaigning there, we’ve increased turnout by 25%.
“So, what we want to do is speak to people who are alienated from the system at the moment and people who are disempowered. We want to motivate those people and give them an opportunity. We want to give them something different to vote for.
“We’re looking to draw support from whoever wants a more just, a more free, a more equal and a more prosperous Wales.
“We have a particular way of campaigning; we call it the Fairwater formula. We will roll that out across Wales, and I know it will be successful. So, we are looking for candidates for the 2022 election, the council elections, because we are going to be a force in Welsh politics and we are going to be a force for good.”
McEvoy rejects the accusation from some quarters that the WNP will simply be a party for disgruntled former Plaid members and supporters.
“It’s a party for people who want to change Wales and I think we need to draw a line with Plaid Cymru,” he said.
“My best wishes to them. I think they can carry on and campaign in their way and we will campaign in our way.”
With elections to the Senedd still a year away but with the promise some noteworthy candidates will be unveiled in the near future, the initial target for the WNP appears to be building a base at councillor level.
The three former Plaid Cymru councillors in Cardiff who quit the party last October to sit as independents look certain to switch to the WNP.
McEvoy confirmed the new party is making good progress in talks with other councillors across Wales who are keen to switch, claiming “even now we have more councillors in the cities of Wales in the south than any other party based in Wales”.
The WNP appears on the scene less than two years after the launch of Ein Gwlad (now Gwlad Gwlad) who have also sought to bring new supporters to the cause of Welsh independence. There have been suggestions that Gwlad Gwlad, who have had their struggles with internal rifts and public apathy in recent months, could be killed off by the emergence of the new party.
While keen to distance the Welsh National Party politically, Neil McEvoy said: “I’m not sure if they really got going to be honest. I respect them because they are essentially a conservative party, a Welsh conservative party, which is completely different to us.
“We are not conservatives, we never pretend to be, and the best of luck to them in attracting conservative-minded voters.”
Neil McEvoy said that the problem with Plaid Cymru was that after 95 years they were very restricted in who they attract.
“Outside of the traditional areas there is not a great deal of support,” he said. “So, what we intend to do is to attract people to the national cause who are not there yet.
“There are many of us who over the years have been on a journey and we are where we are now with the Welsh National Party and what we want to do is enable and bring people on our journey to enable them to fight for and support a sovereign Wales.”
The bigger picture, of course, remains next year’s Senedd elections and McEvoy’s aim of turfing Labour’s First Minister Mark Drakeford out of his Cardiff West seat.
McEvoy stood against him in the 2016 election, boosting Plaid’s share of the vote by 12% and reducing the incumbent’s majority to 1,176, effectively turning the former Labour stronghold into a marginal.
But with the WNP and Plaid both fielding candidates next year any chance of any upset could be slim.
When asked if he would consider working to come to any sort of working arrangement he said:
“I think really the big question is for Adam Price and it is for Plaid because the only person that can beat Labour’s First Minister is me.
“The only party able to defeat the Labour Party in Cardiff West is the Welsh National Party now. So, is Plaid Cymru going to try to enable a Labour First Minister to be re-elected?
“That’s the big question really, because the way it is looking in the capital is that the whole raison d’être now of Plaid Cymru is to enable Mark Drakeford to be re-elected. So, I think that really is a question for them while we set our stall out.”
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.
The author’s comments about Gwlad Gwlad are nonsense; we’re here to stay. Nevertheless, we’re supportive of what Neil McEvoy is doing, just as we’ve applauded his efforts to reform Plaid from the very beginning, when he was still a member. The Welsh independence movement needs to be as broadly-based as possible, so that independence doesn’t come across to people as a niche interest and people from right across the ‘spectrum’ have a pro-independence party they can vote for. That said, it wouldn’t do to get hung up on labels. It’s true that we view ourselves as being conservative (strictly with… Read more »
I live in the Netherlands and from reading the news back home, you would think that everyone loves the EU and wants a socialist Wales. It’s the last thing people need.
What are you getting at in relation to Gwlad?
With two thirds of welsh exports going to the eu single market what wales certainly doesnt need is the hard brexit being planned by the conservative govt at westminster – a no deal brexit that will see costly tariffs on welsh exports to eu countries
That is is completely misleading
2/3 of Welsh exports don’t go to the EU. 2/3 of exports that go outside the rest of the UK go to the EU
That is quite a difference
Please stay in the Netherlands ❤
He means Sion, I assume.
This sounds like the South Wales Nationalist Party with local scores to settle in the first instance. Please tell me I’m wrong…
You either know, or you don’t know.
We need new nationalist parties – regardless of which area they cover. People in the South of Wales see Plaid Cymru very much as a part for North and West Wales. Surely it’s a good thing to have a new party which may attract voters from the South. All we need then is a party to capture the North and Mid Borders. If all the Nationalist Parties can attract more votes than the Unionist Parties, then maybe, just maybe, they can all work together in the nationalist interest.
Perhaps we need Twin/Friend -Towns/Villages all over Cymru?
( I noticed the news that Harbury Brexiteers painted over it’s twin sign with Samois-sur Sein. )
Neil said he is after the 50% and, judging by his past work, that’s exactly what he means to get. Brilliant!
Myself, I’m sticking with Adam.
Great news for Wales!!!
Up’n at’em Neil, who knows where the WNP could be in ten years
Shouldn’t this be in the opinion section, not news? Surely news would require impartiality and there would be questions about the current investigations by the assembly and by the police into neil mcevoy? This reads like a free advert.
Alwyn, the police gave me a clean bill of health. Thank you for drawing attention to this.
A clean bill of health in relation to covert recording? Please be clear.
Legal info – covert recording is not criminal. It can be illegal if done by police without a warrant, or if done in breach of an expectation of confidentiality between two equals. BUT enforcing confidentiality can give rise to injustice, in which case there’s lots of law to say recording is OK. Which means Neil is likely OK. The vapourings of the Llywydd and others over this are emotion and not law.
That wasn’t the question. Legal info – covert recording isn’t surveillance, it’s very different legislation. Ignorance of the law is no defence.
Also, as you say he will “likely be OK”, you’re agreeing he is likely part of a current and ongoing investigation, and highly likely to be mistaken when he says the police have given him a clean bill of health?
I’m sure he will be very clear, so as not to appear evasive or loose with the facts.
Decietful is what you are being Neil Mcevoy. Others may admire that quality, most won’t.
You are frothing now pal . I can smell it from here and it’s pretty awful !
Hardly and gaslighting is pathetic on the internet. Very childish. You may not be interested in the current investigations into very serious matters, but conduct that may cross into a criminal prosecution, matter more than fluffing an AM egos. Our democracy isn’t a game.
… and vindictive bitching is not at all productive either. You are making a bit of a spectacle of yourself when climbing on the “let’s lynch McEvoy” bandwagon. He’s distanced himself from your feeble party so you can have it all to yourselves. Move on.
Vindictive bitching? Lynching? Ridiculous gaslighting again, please be mature enough to, or don’t bother to engage. Boris johnson taking holiday freebies and not declaring properly isn’t vindictive bitching. MPs expenses scandal wasn’t vindictive bitching. An AM being allowed to serve after a drink driving conviction isn’t vindictive bitching. A conservative candidate collapsing a rape trial wasn’t vindictive bitching? You’re obviously to ignorant to hold a reasonable discussion about standards of public servants, potential criminal activity by an AM and why that is more important than permitting a completely unchallenged propaganda peice. Not allowing an AM to offer deceit in an… Read more »
Keep on digging but be assured you’ll be in that hole on your own. You are rambling on for the sake of it. How is any of that torrent relevant to this thread running from your earlier allegation that Mr McEvoy is “deceitful”? “Boris johnson taking holiday freebies and not declaring properly isn’t vindictive bitching. MPs expenses scandal wasn’t vindictive bitching. An AM being allowed to serve after a drink driving conviction isn’t vindictive bitching. A conservative candidate collapsing a rape trial wasn’t vindictive bitching? ” What on earth are you up to ? just filling space ? Those 3… Read more »
I suggest you read my original, very clear post for context and to help you clarify how Neil Mcevoy is being deceitful.
Mae’n ddrwg gen i, Alwyn, perhaps I’m being thick, but could you spell out for my benefit what form McEvoy’s deceit took, or takes? All I can find is a reference to him making a recording of his inquisition at the Senedd kangaroo court, in order presumably to present it as evidence if the need should arise at some point.
He stated the police have given him “a clean bill of health” .There’s a reported ongoing police investigation into the circumstances of the recordings he made, which if the CPS proceed could result in very serious charges and consequences, that’s not a clean bill of health as he stated. He’s welcome to clarify.
My original point was why Nation Cymru have classified this as news, when they didn’t challenge him on these and other matters related to his conduct. They’ve basically given him a propaganda platform, which is OK, for an opinion piece.
Diolch mate, re. first paragraph. But para 2? Lots of Welsh politicians get to air their views, and their policies, on this website, including (regularly) Adam Price. We need to hear Adam’s views, but why not Neil’s? The man’s just launched a new political party; let’s hear what he has to say! Otherwise, what’s the point of it all?
Most of those come under opinion peices. There was already a news strike about this idea for a new party. News interviews should hold people to account. Beyond tjd very serious issues, that I’ve raised, so much goes unchallenged, that it’s little more than propaganda. The constant use of “We”, there is no we, the party doesn’t exist. It’s I. What happened to propel? How will the party be constituted, will it have a leadership election, will there be direct vote for policy positions, nothing asked and nothing answered. Can you imagine Adam Price having free reign to laud Plaids… Read more »
That was a very interesting chat.
To be clear, my comment was made before A J’s and has nothing to do with the exchange.
fi, fi, fi …
Is that Alun Ffredo?
What a breath of fresh air! Neil has my full support. Plaid Cymru will hopefully either concentrate on west and north Wales and language/cultural issues and let this party lead the way in SE and NE Wales. Time for a change.
Either that, or Plaid becomes a thing of the past, a dying party obsessed with minoritarian issues.
What ‘minoritarian issues’ like independence for Wales? And to judge by the reactionary nature and content of your posts i would have thought that the last thing neil mcevoys proposed new oarty needs is the support of bigots like you
Bigot? Where in my post will you find anything bigoted?
I agree with everything you say Matthew. As far as I am aware I can’t see anything bigoted in your post. With the exception of a few notable results in The South Wales Valleys, Plaid have struggled to make any impact outside Y Bro, The Welsh Speaking Heartland. Their best ever performance was in the 1999 First Senedd elections when they even did better than the SNP in Scotland, also they managed to turn seats e. g Swansea East and Gower into Marginals. This could have been down to the leadership of Dafydd Wigley yet when Wigley stood down Plaid… Read more »
Plaid Cymru is now a party of the woke. You must know that.
Wrong on that score RJ. Plaid is the party of the “rarely awake”, they sometimes come out with a shrewd observation or criticism, raise my hopes, then dash them just as quickly with a torrent of “sothach llwyr” . No doubt their thought leaders are now frothing around the mouth with 2 new rivals showing them up for what they are but the rude awakening from their dozy slumber beckons in 2021.
Woke means being aware of what is going on in the communities surrounding you.
You’ve given Plaid Cymru a back handed compliment.
I see the owl southwest of Elenydd, a symbol of resistance. I see the speaker in the valley who rised a people, and shattered glass reflecting stars in Wrecsam. Of that future I see, I do not see the Welsh National Party. Perhaps we will be conquered a 2nd time and must rise again.
I see an Eglwyseg buried in a Prophecy. It is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. Keep taking the tablets butt.
A prophesy buried won’t be noticed, let alone read, marked and inwardly digested!
Nodwn eich geiriau……………………
Too much of the discourse relating to the WNP seems to relate to Mr. McEvoy’s former relationship to Plaid Cymru. Neil McEvoy has shaken off the dust of Plaid Cymru and, it seems, not only moved on from the shabby treatment he received from the party but to have offered the hand of co-operation and to have spoken words of encouragement. There will be disputes along the way (that’s what party politics is for), but these disagreements must not be looked at by the Welsh public (including commentators on this blog) as some kind of revenge strategy on McEvoy’s part.… Read more »
If Neil wins Cardiff West and unseats the First Minister, the news that would ring loudly throughout Wales – and elsewhere – of a nationalist victory would be a message of hope for our nation.
Interesting that in December Plaid Cymru entered an election pack with two unionist parties; if it puts up a candidate in Cardiff West it not only endures the return of the labour First Minister but would be an act of unforgivable spite.
Correct. We will all be keeping an eye on this. Hopefully our regular Plaid poster, Leigh, will agree that NM deposing the First Minister would give a MASSIVE boost to Welsh indy hopes.
The displacement of a Labour first minister would in itself be a positive thing. The century-long grip of one party on power’s never healthy.
According to the recent opinion poll – assuming, of course, that we can believe it – 27% of the Welsh population are at least ‘indy-curious’. Which is a significantly higher percentage than we’ve previously seen. On the other hand 33% favour winding up the Senedd and, presumably, abandoning devolution altogether. No reason to be panicked about that figure, because it suggests that 67% of the Welsh population, however cautiously, still backs devolution. But the poll findings suggest that your average Welsh voter doesn’t thus far ‘buy’ the notion of independence, whether it be the Plaid Cymru version or that propagated… Read more »
John, we know you’re a St Bruno man, (and possibly correct), but Neil ain’t and ‘ees after that 50%!
And good luck to him; maybe he has that rare magic touch which readily wins voters’ hearts and minds! Such people do exist – in my lifetime Thatcher and Blair come to mind, and though it’s early days even Bunter seems to be managing it. Somehow, though, it never seems to work on me! And the fact remains that in politics more aspire to the magic touch than fruitfully employ it … But time will tell – let him try, and we’ll see what happens. And maybe I’m a tad influenced by my daughter, who lives on his patch and… Read more »
No good will ever come from electing a narcissist. It’s all about power, control and attention for this guy
I think that Neil has put his finger on something very important here, when he mentions the elephant in the room in Welsh politics. Something you never hear any of the present parties in the Bay make any mention of in reality. That is, the fact that we’ve never reached more than 45% electoral participation in any Welsh election since 1999. 55% of the Welsh population are therefore not part of any meaningful demos here in Wales. And of course, this level of disengagement and apathy extends to much more than just election time. This shocking statistic just corrodes the… Read more »
Dare we dream of a radical shift happening next year or will I have to put up with another 5 years of patronising drivel from the self appointed “party of eternal government in Wales” and its little pal the “compliant rebel party”
Correction – you missed out the word grovelling before rebel party.
Thanks Dr JB , grovelling and compliant still don’t fully cover the state of Plaid at Y Cynulliad, but my more colourful language gets me banned off here from time to time !. At least the 4 in the Commons get stuck into their brief with diligence most of the time.
If he can avoid being portrayed as self obsessed, Mr McEvoy may indeed be able to win over those who are indifferent or dismissive of the Senedd and its politics. Rather than take the establishment line of defending the institution, he can draw on his own well publicised troubles to show he’s one with them on this negativity towards the status quo, then explain why he hasn’t walked away and how WNP is going to make a difference. “Personal and national sovereignty” is distinctive. Drop words like “engagement” and “empowerment” -it’s politicians with solutions who get elected.
Yes, interesting point about ‘self-obsession’ as a weapon against Neil McEvoy. Those who see value in what McEvoy has done so far for Wales and Cardiff need to be aware that his alleged ‘ego’ is going to be one of the projectiles thrown at him by those Welsh politicians (and subsidiary bodies such as Deryn) who wish, out of self-interest, to maintain the colonial status quo. I see little in the way of an intrusive ego when I listen to McEvoy. His fixation seems to be not with himself but with the wellbeing of the people he represents, and any… Read more »