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Plaid Cymru took ‘big step back’ at Senedd election, says former leader

11 May 2021 2 minutes Read
Leanne Wood speaking to a member at the Plaid Cymru conference. Picture by Plaid Cymru

Plaid Cymru took a “big step back” at the Senedd election according to the party’s former leader.

Leanne Wood, who lost her seat in the Rhondda seat to Labour at the election said it needs a “new strategy” to win ground outside its traditional heartlands.

Plaid was pushed back by Labour in many of its target seats, while it increased its majorities in many of the constituencies it already held.

Wood, who led the party between 2012 and 2018, said its goal of Welsh independence would be “difficult to achieve” if it only performs well in areas it has traditionally gained support.

Plaid Cymru support has long tended to be concentrated in traditional Welsh-speaking areas of north west and west Wales, but it has found it difficult to break through in the Labour areas of the south and north east of the country.

It won 13 seats at the Senedd election, which is one more than it achieved in 2016.

‘Head scratching’ 

She told The Leaders’ Lounge programme on BBC Radio Wales: “I think the the leadership and the strategists are going to have some head scratching to do.

“We’ve lost the seat in the valleys that we needed to build out from, and our majorities have increased in those seats we’ve traditionally held for three, four or five decades.

“That goal of independence is going to be difficult to achieve if we’re only polling well in those parts of Wales where we always have polled well.

“So the strategy to reach out has taken a big step back, I think, and we will need to think about how we respond to that and I think there needs to be a new strategy.”

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G Horton-Jones
G Horton-Jones
6 months ago

Spot on with this
. This has been the long term Achilles heel for Plaid.
There is a need to widen the appeal of our vision of Wales in the future to all people in Wales and the best time to start is NOW

huwdavies
huwdavies
6 months ago

You won’t achieve by going even more woke ! People in the South Wales valleys retain some hard core socialist values but don’t buy into the stuff being pushed by lifestyle lefties. It’s only their even deeper aversion to aspects of Toryism that has stopped them shifting in the manner of other long term Labour seats in England. They showed their willingness to switch when confronted by the Brexit issue. We may think they were wrong but who are we to dictate to them ? Take heed of their needs, concerns, anxieties and address them properly not with the usual… Read more »

CJPh
CJPh
6 months ago
Reply to  huwdavies

There is no doubt that Leanne Wood was a diligent and talented political operator and public servant during her time at the senedd. It seems that Elizabeth Williams, however, has many of those same attributes, minus the culture warrior tweets. As to Leanne’s point on Plaid losing ground by losing the Rhondda – she lost the seat, with her persona and her policy proposals and her record. Plaid gained over all. As much as I think our political landscape is barer for having lost her, doubling down on her preferred ideological tactics clearly isn’t the best move. The more Cymru’s… Read more »

Quornby
Quornby
6 months ago

Plaid did not gain one seat, it gained three from the actual Senedd make up prior to the election after the earlier McAvoy/Ellis-Thomas expulsion/defection.

Peter Robinson
Peter Robinson
6 months ago
Reply to  Quornby

An expulsion and a defection aren’t exactly badges of unity. Plaid had unity issues elsewhere too. Blaenau Gwent and Llanelli I believe. Relative to Plaids size that’s a lot of disunity it will need to address

Quornby
Quornby
6 months ago
Reply to  Peter Robinson

Yes agreed. It seems that Starmer and Rayner are having unity problems of their own as well. L

Chris j Priest
Chris j Priest
6 months ago
Reply to  Peter Robinson

Not dismissing what you say but the Blaenau Gwent situation was Nigel Copner being disunited with himself. He joins Plaid Cymru and then disagrees with their core principles. If anything Plaid need a better vetting system to stop disruptive elements, who do not share the Party’s core values, from entering and wielding influence. Mohammed Ashgar was another of these exploiters of expediency.

Mr Williams
Mr Williams
6 months ago

Ms Wood’s defeat is a great loss to Welsh democracy, a highly principled and hard-working politician. She always impressed me when I watched her on TV debates etc. I can’t understand why Plaid turned on her and caused her to end her leadership. I, although usually a Labour voter, did turn to Plaid because of her a couple of times. I hope she will be back….

Wrexhamian
Wrexhamian
6 months ago
Reply to  Mr Williams

She’s a capable organiser and a hard worker, but I think she lost the leadership debate to Price because the kind of issues that she was beginning to focus on had little appeal to people in the post-industrial regions of Cymru, including her own constituency. She might have more success standing in a Cardiff seat and garnering support from the wokish elite there than a constituency like Rhondda where people face the problems of poverty, unemployment and health issues.

Dr John Ball
Dr John Ball
6 months ago
Reply to  Wrexhamian

Agreed! Too may irrelevant issues and too little addressing real issues relevant to Wales

Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
6 months ago

Considering Plaid had a Welsh referendum as one of their policies the total vote held up pretty well. It was too early to offer a referendum and I feared the same total rejection that befell the LibDems and their referendum pledge. Shame to lose Leanne Wood though but I’m sure she’ll be back.

Alan Reilly
Alan Reilly
6 months ago

Plaid’s difficulty in gaining a foothold outside its heartlands is as plain as the nose on someone’s face. It needs to decide whether it is the party of the Welsh language or the party of the Welsh people, the overwhelming majority of whom do not speak Welsh. In northeast Wales and southeast Wales in particular, Plaid are seen as the party for Welsh speakers. And it’s no mystery why people in those areas don’t vote for them. This does not mean they can’t continue to promote the Welsh language, in fact the SNP, admittedly from a far smaller starting point,… Read more »

Cai Wogan Jones
Cai Wogan Jones
6 months ago

Sadly, Plaid has been in steady decline since the phenomenal results achieved under the leadership of Dafydd Wigley.

Under Leanne’s leadership, I recall Plaid plummeting to single digit support in opinion polls.

Plaid needs to seek a broader support base and be more tolerant and inclusive in its appeal.

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