Plaid Cymru Chair candidates disagree on expelled members of party

Dewi Evans (left) and Alun Ffred Jones (right). Alun Ffred picture by the National Assembly (CC BY 2.0).

Peter Gillibrand

The men vying to be the Chair of Plaid Cymru have disagreed on the processes behind the expulsion of AM Neil McEvoy and the suspension of the party’s Llanelli branch.

Last night, Dr Dewi Evans launched his campaign to try and beat incumbent ex-Assembly Member, Alun Ffred Jones, at the Eisteddfod in Llanrwst.

Dewi Evans believes the expulsion system needs a thorough rethink after the friction it has caused within the party.

The election between the two men will be held at Plaid Cymru’s conference on October 4th-5th at Swansea Grand Theatre.

Dewi Evans was nominated by the Cardiff West branch to run against Alun Ffred Jones, and has previously stated that he is keen to welcome back both McEvoy and Llanelli’s disaffected members.

“I don’t think you can expel people because they found themselves on the wrong side of some standing order,” he told Nation.Cymru.

“We really need to recognise that the greater the support for Plaid Cymru, the more diverse its membership.

“We really need to find a way of accommodating a diverse membership and expelling members for disagreeing with the Chair is sending completely the wrong message to people who are sympathetic to Plaid Cymru’s views.

“We need a more effective structure of conflict resolution and conflict management which should avoid the need to engage in ritualistic expulsion.

“I think we should only expel people if they join another political party. If they’ve committed a serious crime or they’ve done something disgraceful like holding anti-semitic or racist views, for instance.

“This takes me back to my issue for conflict management and conflict resolution. Plaid is not a particularly large party. We get along very well.”

‘Process’

Alun Ffred Jones, however, said that Dewi Evans was “mistaken” if he thought becoming Chair of the party would allow him to welcome back expelled members.

“The chairman doesn’t have a veto or the ability to admit anyone to the party,” he said. “There’s a process which as it happens, and Neil McEvoy has decided not to take part in.

“But it’s not for the chairman – unless they want to change the standing orders – but to do that, you’d have to take it through the National Conference.

“You cannot stand claiming that you’d admit or not admit anyone into the party – there’s a process that has to be followed – and that has been followed.

“In that sense, I think, Dewi’s mistaken,” he said.

He said that part of the Chair’s role was to ensure that every member of the party “behave at all levels – responsibly and within the rules set out by the party”.

“And I’ll pick on the theme that Adam made in his contribution recently that we have to do that while respecting each-other at all times,” he said.

“So, there’s no room for any kind of intimidation or bullying or that sort of thing. We have to make sure that we behave with respect towards each other.

“We have to make sure that all our processes are transparent and that we adhere to them at all times.”

‘United’

But Dewi Evans said that the problems within the party were due to Plaid Cymru’s success, and that he would be a more successful mediator.

“What has occurred is that with success our movement – there is friction – there’s no movement without friction,” he said.

“Undoubtedly there’s been some friction and I think it could have been handled better.

“But now we’ve seen growth … significant growth… and for the first time we beat the Labour party in an all-Wales election and in the last opinion poll, Plaid was ahead.

“In terms of Plaid Cymru policy – I don’t think we’ve ever been more united in regards to what we need to do with our priorities with policies with economic development, improve transport structures, change what is an unsatisfactory health service and so on.”

Dewi Evans also said that as Chairman he would be a better voice for members of the party in areas where Plaid Cymru had been weaker historically.

“I’m looking to become chair of Plaid because Plaid needs to extend its reach to all parts of Wales,” he said.“I’m launching my proposal that Plaid Cymru should have an office in north Wales to complement the offices of the MPs and Assembly Members.

“We need an independent Plaid Cymru office that is a full-on campaigning office – probably based in the north-east of the country because we need to reach those parts of north Wales where Plaid Cymru isn’t particularly well represented because there’s a great need for us to get more involved with areas like Wrexham and the north-east coast.

“It also sends a message to all of our supporters and members that Plaid Cymru is a genuine devolved political party and that we don’t want to separate everything to Cardiff.

“Secondly, we need to have a more sophisticated way to reach out to our members – not only to inform them of what we’re doing but to get their opinion on the issues of the day – in other words, I’d want us to engage in regular member surveys on topical and contentious issues.

“We don’t really know how many Plaid Cymru members support the development of nuclear energy… (or how many members were) supporters of remaining in the EU.

“If we engage our members more, they would feel more valued, they would engage far more, they would become far more likely to be candidates in local and other elections and also be far more willing to engage in campaigning and recruiting other members.

“We are on target to increase the number across the whole of Wales and I think the momentum is in our favour – and I think it can be sustained over the next years. And to do that we need to reach out to all parts of Wales and to the diverse electorate that is the Welsh people – I think we need to do that more effectively.”

There was one clear message in why he was launching his campaign in Llanrwst, however.

“We’ve got the best leader of all the political parties in Wales by a mile. Therefore, all of this needs to be done to enable Plaid to enable Adam to be the first minister in the next Welsh Elections in 2021,” he said.

“All of this centres in one goal – getting Adam Price to be first minister in two years time.”

‘Exciting’

However, the current-chair, Alun Ffred Jones, also said that he was keen to continue in the role as Plaid Cymru strives to make a breakthrough at the Assembly election in 2021.

“It’s an exciting time to be in Plaid Cymru and I’d like to be a part of that run up towards the assembly elections and I think I can provide continuity and stability,” he said.

“I’ve worked alongside the National Executive and two leaders, and I think that I’ve got the necessary experience to help in the campaign.

“What we need to do is make sure the party machine compliments the political lead of Adam Price and his team.

“We are there to serve that political ambition, obviously, but I also believe that I’m answerable to the national executive at all times – but obviously we need to make sure we provide the necessary funding and structures across Wales to ensure a successful campaign.”

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Colin MannGwylon PhillipsGELERTAndrew RowlandsSiôn Recent comment authors
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Max Wallis
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Max Wallis

Amazing that Alun Ffred claims McEvoy’s exclusion was nothing to do with him. Most complaints against McEvoy (orchestrated by Deryn) didn’t stick, but Alun Ffred’s own complaint plus that of the Chief Exec. were upheld by Plaid’s disciplinary committee. And Alun Ffred’s complaint was that the demonstrative welcome given McEvoy at the Newport conference embarrassed the Party and that McEvoy mentioned from the platform the Tribunal case that had concluded that morning. Normally leading Party functionaries do not get involved in complaints against members; Adam says he won’t, it’s a good principle. But Alun Ffred excuses himself in saying it’s… Read more »

j r humphrys
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j r humphrys

Max, not just McEvoy, though, is it? There’s a whole lot of folk being kept out who have now decided to remain
out, some very useful people too. I get the Gwlad news portal which knocks spots off Plaid’s efforts.
Well, actually Plaid doesn’t seem to have any effort. And then there are “right wingers” such as myself who have
no political home, unless the Welsh Conservatives decide to go the Indy road, which would be great.
So, Plaid not an umbrella party, which leaves Yes Cymru ?

Sibrydionmawr
Guest
Sibrydionmawr

All good stuff, and it’s interesting that Dewi Evans wants to democratise the party more. However, along with new offices and increased consultation with members, and hopefully also the electorate, (many of us aren’t members, but vote Plaid, usually in my case out of a dense of desperation, but hopefully in future with some hopes that Plaid will actually make a real difference) I also hope that Plaid will return to what it did in the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s and start to publish it’s ideas in something more than tweet form – I personally find it extremely galling… Read more »

Huw Davies
Guest
Huw Davies

Despite its length that was a succinct comment because it covered a lot of ground. I’m of a mind similar to yours – never a member but a very long term supporter – but losing confidence in the Plaid of recent history. It goes back a lot further than Adam or Leanne, the decay was setting in around the time of Devolution, as though people thought “we’ve done it, ease up take the jobs and the rewards”. You are right that tweeting is a kind of schoolyard level of communication when the Internet really affords scope for distributing hefty content… Read more »

Cilmeri
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Cilmeri

Mae angen i Alun Ffred Jones adael. Mae wedi gwneud llawer o ddrwg oherwydd ei elyniaeth i Neil McEvoy a’i gwalach wrth ymdrin a changen Llanelli. Mae hefyd angen mwy o drafodaeth aeddfed gan amryw o AC Plaid er mwyn symud ymlaen. Y broblem yw bod eu gwleidyddiaeth bach cysurus wedi ei ysgwyd gan math o newydd o wleidydda Neil McEvoy sydd yn chwa o awyr iach. Cododd pryderon am ddylanwad cwmni Deryn, a dangosodd sut i wleidydda yn llwyddiannus – does ond rhaid edrych ar y gwaith ardderchog mae wedi ei wneud yng ngorllewin Caerdydd. Mae’n aelod cynulliad effeithiol… Read more »

Nia Marshall Lloyd
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Nia Marshall Lloyd

Cytuno 100% Cilmeri. Rydym yn amserol a’r siawns i PC gyrraedd y brig a gweithredu yn
effeithiol tuag at rheolaeth i annibyniaeth. Mae rhaid ir rhai sydd yn erbyn Neil Macilvoy rhoi eu teimladau personol i un ochr er mwyn ein Gwlad. Mae’r tensiwn o tu fewn yn adlewyrchu ar y tu allan ac os na wnawn newid a gadael Neil yn ol, teimlaf fydd hyn yn dinistrio unrhyw obaith i ni yma yng Nghymru.
Colli aelodau fyddwn nid ennill mwy.

Jonathan Edwards
Guest
Jonathan Edwards

Plaid needs the change which Dewi would bring. Which is a change of tone and mood as much as anything, to be civilised in accepting a wider range of approaches to politics and the future of Wales. Plaid needs to be a broader front, and to lose the drive to expel and punish, a “process” which does Wales no good at all. I think Adam Price would like to achieve this. And Plaid needs a change of policy too. Getting Independence, or even DevoMax/Dominion Status needs a set of tools and skills which are oddly lacking in a nation-building party.… Read more »

Tony
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Tony

Oh, I was under the impression that McAvoy was kicked out for being a bullying opportunist.

Neil McEvoy
Guest
Neil McEvoy

I was expelled for a) not discouraging people enough from welcoming me to Conference. b) not allowing Alun Ffred to edit my speech c) copying my Branch members into a solicitor’s letter sent, outlining what the complaints were about. Happy to send ky expulsion letter to anyone. Ta.

Rhosddu
Guest
Rhosddu

I’m sure McEvoy doesn’t claim to be the Messiah, but many Plaid Cymru voters are angry at the shabby way he was treated, and would welcome him back, because he gets things done. Plaid shot itself in the foot.

GELERT
Guest
GELERT

Is that a prawn or a pawn?

Siôn
Guest
Siôn

The chair has no role in deciding who should be thrown out or welcomed back in – that is up to a panel of NEC members. The Chair has the power to immediately suspend a member, as would be the case if a member made extremely racist or homophobic comments – this mechanism exists in almost every serious democratic party in the world, but was decried by McEvoy’s supporters as being ‘dictatorial’ back when it was passed. If Dewi Evans believes that his candidature, which is obviously being pushed from the outside by McEvoy, will unite the party, I’m afraid… Read more »

Andrew Rowlands
Guest
Andrew Rowlands

Re ‘breaking the rules’. With Labour caught up in its own antiSemitism problems and the new PM possibly going to call an election at the same time we leave the EU, rules are being broken all over the place. Strong performers, willing to tackle the populists, are necessary.

GELERT
Guest
GELERT

As was alun ffred/leanne re Llanelli were they not?

Gwylon Phillips
Guest
Gwylon Phillips

Mae gennyf barch mawr tuag at Dewi Evans. Etholir ef.

Colin Mann
Member
Colin Mann

I feel that Plaid has mishandled both the Llanelli situation and the Neil McEvoy case. A ‘parachuting’ process of a candidate happened in Llanelli, something which we have rightly criticised Labour for on more than one occasion. Neil is not everyone’s ‘cup of tea’ but what is undeniable is that PC in Cardiff have made amazing progress in an area where we have traditionally been also-rans. It is difficult to avoid the impression that there are too many personal issues involved in this one. We need winners if we are to progress as a party, also to be more tolerant… Read more »