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Plaid Cymru committee quits in misogyny row

25 Sep 2023 8 minute read
Nerys Evans, author of a report into harassment and bullying within Plaid Cymru

Martin Shipton

An entire constituency committee of Plaid Cymru says it has resigned, claiming the party is still riddled with misogyny and is not a safe place for women.

The resignations come months after a report from former Assembly Member Nerys Evans said that Plaid had failed to address longstanding problems of harassment and bullying. The report led to the resignation of party leader Adam Price.

Untenable

In a stinging letter to the party’s national chair, the Caerphilly committee states: “It is with deep regret that despite our concerted and sustained efforts over several years to make sure Plaid Cymru is a safe place for all members, the entire Caerphilly constituency committee have concluded that our positions have been made untenable by the inaction of the party to genuinely tackle sexism, discrimination, and misogyny.

“The stress endured by the committee has taken an unwarranted and unnecessary toll on us all and we, all members of the committee, hereby resign.

“Jayne Garland and I (Teresa Parry) will also stand down as Chair and treasurer from our positions on the regional Merched committee as we have no faith in the party or its genuine intent to stamp out discrimination. We have detailed at length the serious issues of discrimination, harassment, bullying, victimisation, sexism, objectification, misogyny and homophobia in numerous complaints and correspondence over several years.

“The NEC, elected members and leadership of the party have been told, in no uncertain terms, of the issues faced by members. This has not been addressed, leaving members isolated and unsupported where they continue to face unacceptable behaviours resulting in a complete dereliction of duty of care by the party for those who have faced and/or reported unacceptable behaviours.

“Prosiect Pawb [the Nerys Evans report] highlighted the misogyny and toxic culture in the party, it also recognised that the complaints process was not fit for purpose, the NEC recommending commissioning a Disciplinary Procedures Review. The draft terms of reference of that review highlighted how badly broken the disciplinary processes are, and yet the same systems are still in place.

“The party continues to allow women and people with other protected characteristics to face unacceptable behaviours. We therefore have no confidence in the current complaints process, with our complaints either being dismissed or not even investigated.

“As constituency officers, it was our mission and duty to make Plaid Cymru Caerphilly a safe space for women and to modernise the constituency fit for a current and future Wales. Due to the widely known historic issues in Caerphilly, we needed the support of the party centrally to address unacceptable behaviours by certain members. Although the issues were acknowledged the support was not forthcoming and the appetite to tackle them was absent.

“We are deeply concerned for the future of the party. Certain individuals resist modernisation by resorting to unacceptable behaviours to keep their grip on power, with those with protected characteristics facing the brunt of such behaviours. The reputations and careers of some members, because of their sex or sexuality, have been tarnished, discredited or destroyed.

“Caerphilly is one of the very few strongholds for the party in the whole of the Valleys and the Southeast, but the failure of the party centrally to address issues means that the future here is precarious. Younger and female members are walking away.

“Calls were made at the NEC for the party to receive additional support and be recognised as a ‘constituency of concern’. This has not materialised. The constituency is now left without a committee following our resignation. It is our belief that it would be a grave mistake on behalf of the party to turn to those who have caused the issues, whose behaviours have been unacceptable, to regroup the constituency.

“It is not lost on us that we have had a new CEO, Chair and leader in the last year. We were enthusiastic in our hope that this may have led to a change in the party’s culture. Unfortunately, in the first test of its commitment to complying with the report recommendations, events in Caerphilly have shown that the party has fallen at the first hurdle in dealing with issues raised in Prosiect Pawb.

“Not only that, Prosiect Pawb focussed on the treatment of staff of the party. Although this was indeed needed it fails to acknowledge that the Party is subject to the Equality Act providing protection for all members as well as staff as the organisation has over 25 members. The report therefore only provides a snapshot of the tip of the iceberg of issues as the experiences of the membership were not explored.

“Nevertheless, recommendation 82 of Prosiect Pawb states “Prosiect Pawb’s findings and recommendations will be effective in enabling permanent, non-reversible measures to detoxify a culture of harassment, bullying and misogyny and to make Plaid truly and visibly welcoming to women.”

“There is an end-of-year review due in December, unfortunately, we can bear witness that the party has failed to address these very same issues in Caerphilly and we have no faith it ever will.

“This is a betrayal of those members, some of whom have devoted and invested years and decades to the party. In turn, this harms our electoral prospects, the cause of independence and a better Wales. Our party purports to be a party which supports women and unrepresented groups, and yet female candidates in Caerphilly have been lost for the behaviours of members and inaction of the party centrally to address deeply concerning issues.

“Potential careers have been hindered because of misogyny, homophobia and bullying. The constituency committee sought the support of the party nationally to address the unacceptable behaviours we have been subjected to, but this has not been forthcoming despite repeated requests.

“Intimidation, violence, or abuse against women in politics has lasting, harmful impacts on the individuals concerned and broader society generally. It debilitates political and electoral processes, credibility, and legitimacy. The experience, threat or fear of abuse against women dissuades many from pursuing or continuing political careers, electoral campaigns, and related activities, as well as other forms of public activism or public office.

“Altogether, this violates women’s human rights and political rights undermining women as political actors. In conclusion, the party has left us with no option other than to take these drastic and reluctant steps in resigning. This could have easily been avoided with action to genuinely deliver on Prosiect Pawb. It is clear to us that Plaid is not as it claims to be a party for Pawb. We are individuals who passionately believe in equality and fairness for all members, but in view of the above, we find it impossible to continue in our roles.

“Plaid’s website glibly states that ‘Plaid Cymru is working towards creating an equal nation and a nation of equals’. “Unfortunately, its actions don’t match the rhetoric as we are a long way off even realising this for the party in reality. “We have tried our hardest for so long but must walk away as a direct result of the behaviour of individuals locally and more worryingly the inaction and inability of the party nationally to make this a safe place for members.  We believe Plaid Cymru currently is not a safe place for women.”

Concerns

A Plaid Cymru spokesperson responded: “”Plaid Cymru is aware of concerns in the Caerphilly constituency and want to reassure members that we have and continue to take the matter very seriously.

“Numerous efforts by the central party to mediate the situation have been rejected locally. However, we remain fully committed to working with the local party to resolve the issues as soon as possible.

“Plaid Cymru take allegations of misogyny extremely seriously and remain fully committed to implementing the recommendations of Project Pawb in its entirety – including strengthening the party’s internal processes and ensuring the party is a safe, inclusive, and respectful space for all.”

Councillor Lindsay Whittle, leader of the Plaid Cymru group on Caerphilly Council, said: “The door is always open for members to raise matters of concern with the party nationally and locally and I understand that in this case complaints were fully investigated.

“There is no way I would allow the claimed bad behaviour in Plaid Cymru. I’ve been in the party since I was 14. I’m now 70 and I’ve never known complaints like this. In fact, we have a reputation for looking after each other in difficult times.”


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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
5 months ago

This is embarrassing, dirty washing and hardly fair to Rhun, so new in the job…

Form a women’s party then…

A.Redman
A.Redman
5 months ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

“form a woman’s party then”!! No wonder it is such a problem in Plaid with comments like that! No comments from LSR then?

hdavies15
hdavies15
5 months ago
Reply to  A.Redman

It’s probably written tongue in cheek. However it does pose a serious question. If members of a constituency committee felt so strongly about the need to address certain issues they should have acted, served notice of intention to eject certain members from the party and called on the national office holders to execute that notice if it wasn’t within the local committee’s powers to do so. Why didn’t they? It also makes Plaid look seriously divided. Not a good look ahead of any appeal to the electorate who either expect this sort of muck to have been cleared up or… Read more »

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
5 months ago
Reply to  hdavies15

Actually my other half’s suggestion and I think she might have meant it in jest but it’s hard to tell sometimes…

This country is going to hell and most people are arguing about the form of transport one should use to get there. You can hear those in the blue corner having a laugh over this…

Last edited 5 months ago by Mab Meirion
hdavies15
hdavies15
5 months ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

It’s going somewhere dark and nasty whether that is hell or otherwise. “Circling the plughole” is my default summary of the predicament and all the assorted culprits are blaming each other but failing abysmally to come up with some remedies that might actually work.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
5 months ago
Reply to  hdavies15

The subconscious fear of a grim future and an equally unpleasant present is gnawing at the collective moral of the populace, causing friction on all levels of human engagement… My attempts at mixing with the general holidaying public the other day nearly ended in tears. I declaimed to the unknown assemblage of alfresco diners that it was the result of the actions of Al Johnson (Fat Shanks) and his gang of crooks, crazies, racist and relgionist sadists etc and it did not go down well at all. That and a reference to a thousand years of occupation, as most of… Read more »

Last edited 5 months ago by Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
5 months ago
Reply to  hdavies15

Yet we have LSR and now Llinos is challenging for Ynys Mon, in a battle she must win, now is the time to rally, not find fault or perpetuate the cause of this grievance. A word of encouragement from Mr Llwyd might help…

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
5 months ago
Reply to  hdavies15

I see the IFS has come to the conclusion that HS2 is likely to be a complete waste of money, lucky we had no part in it…and I am joking…

hdavies15
hdavies15
5 months ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

You watch, London will ask for cash back even though they didn’t give us any in the first place. Such is the nature of extractive colonialism! Even Anglo Brit Socialists are extractive. It’s just a DNA thing.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
5 months ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

The cost to the common wealth (different to an affiliated group of countries) of 13 years of voting Tory/Brexit (I know but we are at their mercy)…

Now there is a Long Tot for the number crunchers on here to put their minds to…BVI, Caymans, Gib, Jersey etc…if the sums don’t add up…

Richard
Richard
5 months ago
Reply to  A.Redman

I think i hear the TTs ( Tory Trolls ) sharpening their pencils 👀

Gareth James
Gareth James
5 months ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

This crowd led by the disastrous Leanne Wood was responsible for splitting the Llanelli constituency Plaid in half. Also the disastrous situation with our MP Jonathan Edwards and the shameful way he was treated leaving this constituency in a complete shambles

Dailing
Dailing
5 months ago

Not just Caerphilly. Many committee members left Gower constituency due to the controlling actions and bullying behaviour of some.

Null
Null
5 months ago

I am no longer active in PC due to the misogyny experienced in my local branch. Unfortunately, despite the boundary changes, the same people are still dictating matters locally. Some of us did try to raise this issue over a couple of years, but were brushed off repeatedly, locally and at higher levels in the party. It is getting to a point that I am not sure I will bother to renew my membership.

Richard
Richard
5 months ago

I thought the lesson had been leant with the Yes Cymru experience – so sad so sad 🥲

hdavies15
hdavies15
5 months ago
Reply to  Richard

The YC “experience” was the first pass. Expect even more from all kinds of “progressives” who are just another wing of the nouveau colonialist tendency. Look out for outbursts of ” We know better so dissent will not be tolerated” from all sorts of outraged misfits.

Iago Traferth
Iago Traferth
5 months ago
Reply to  hdavies15

Outraged misfits! WAW.

Maddy
Maddy
5 months ago

The party again tries to deny that sexism and misogyny exists in its ugly underbelly by gaslighting those victims trying to simply deny their lived reality. They suggest it was investigated when in truth how can you say that to be the case when clear illegality has occurred, and nothing done to tackle it. Calling people fat lesbians (just the tip of the iceberg) surely would produce some response. Offering mediation to those victims is totally inappropriate for sexism or illegal practices. So why would anyone think this was an appropriate suggestion to make? It is widely recognised in HR… Read more »

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