Neil McEvoy’s new Welsh National Party has been removed from the register of political parties following a threat of legal action by Plaid Cymru over their name.
Plaid Cymru had called on the Electoral Commission to revoke the registration of the name Welsh National Party or complete a further review of the registration process.
In February the Electoral Commission decided not to allow the Welsh National Party to use the Welsh-language name Plaid Genedlaethol Cymru.
It decided that the Welsh language name, despite being a direct translation, was too close to the name of Plaid Cymru and could confuse voters.
But Plaid Cymru argued that by the same logic the Electoral Commission should not have allowed the Welsh National Party to use the English name.
Neil McEvoy, who sits as a Member of the Senedd, said it was a “shameful day for democracy in Wales”.
“A new political party, which is poised to beat Wales’ First Minister in Cardiff West next year is cancelled because a competitor complained. This kind of thing does not happen in democracies,” he said.
“The WNP has been formally registered with the Electoral Commission for months and is a fully functioning political party. I sit in the Welsh Parliament as a Welsh National Party member. We have six Councillors sitting in three local authorities as Welsh National Party Members, with others to be announced. We already have hundreds of members across the country who are paying their standing orders to the WNP.”
A Plaid Cymru spokesperson said that they welcomed the Electoral Commission’s decision to consider the application afresh.
“This step is a recognition of what we have argued from the outset which is that the Commission had acted unlawfully,” the spokesperson said.
“Plaid Cymru will always protect its historic name and we are confident that this matter will be resolved in a manner that allows us to continue doing so.”
In a letter to Neil McEvoy, the Electoral Commission said that they had considered Plaid Cymru’s letter and decided to consider the WNP’s application afresh.
“The Commission is necessarily doing this to follow its normal process of placing notifications of registration applications on its website to allow representations to be made,” the commission said.
“Further, in relation to this particular application, the effect of the Welsh Language Measure is, of course, a matter to be included in the consideration.
“This means that the decision of 15th January 2020 to register your Party is of no effect and the Commission will now treat your application as a new application. It will, of course, be considered by people who were not involved in the original decision and you will have an opportunity to make any additions or amendments to your application which you think would be helpful.
“This re-consideration in accordance with the required process is not an indication whether your application may or may not be approved. Rather, the Commission must take these steps to reach a decision in this matter. I apologise on behalf of the Commission for the inconvenience caused to your party and assure you we will endeavour to complete procedure and reach a final decision as soon as reasonably practicable.”
Neil McEvoy said that the party had complied with every regulation by the Electoral Commission and already submitted their quarterly electoral returns.
“We have done absolutely everything by the book,” eh said. “When the Commission rejected our proposed Welsh language name, claiming it could be confusing, we accepted the decision immediately and proposed a different one. But they failed to make a decision on that name in over two months.
“For the Commission to simply deregister our party is truly shocking. They didn’t even speak to us before doing so. How can we say we live in a democracy when rule-abiding political parties are just cancelled overnight because a threatening letter is sent by a rival political party and their expensive London lawyers? All political parties must be treated equally and fairly.
“This decision is further proof of why we need a fundamental change in Wales. The Establishment thinks it can do whatever it likes now. But they will find out though that there is a new force for change in Wales. We will be standing in the elections next year, come what may.
“The WNP believes that the Electoral Commission is acting unlawfully. We are seeking urgent legal advice and want a statement from the Speaker’s Committee in London who oversee the electoral commission.”
Neil McEvoy was originally elected for Plaid Cymru to represent the South Wales Central region in 2016 before being expelled in 2017. He withdrew his application to re-join Plaid Cymru in July of last year and registered the new Welsh National Party in January of this year.