Plaid Cymru’s Senedd election campaign an ‘embarrassment’ and a ‘mess’ says top academic
Plaid Cymru’s campaign during the 2021 Senedd election was an “embarrassment” according to one of Wales’ leading political academics.
Richard Wyn Jones, the Director of Cardiff University’s Wales Governance Centre, said that Plaid Cymru was “no closer” to understanding how to win votes from Labour than they were 10 years ago.
Writing in the Welsh language current affairs magazine Barn, he added that the party’s tendency to overhype their own electoral hopes had been “insanely foolish”. The full article can be read in Welsh here.
Richard Wyn Jones called on the party’s supporters to acknowledge an “obvious truth, that Plaid Cymru’s national campaign in the 2021 election has been an embarrassment and a mess”.
Plaid Cymru had a series of unconnected local campaigns which once again failed to realise that their best hope of gaining ground was on the list and that they should encourage Labour voters to lend them their second, regional vote, he said.
“If there was more effort in this direction then it may be that Carrie Harper would now be a Member of Parliament and Plaid Cymru opening an exciting new chapter in its history in the north-east,” he said.
“This was also another election when Plaid Cymru failed to manage expectations,” he added, saying that “overhyping electoral hopes have now developed into a sort of sickness within the Party”.
“The difference between Plaid Cymru and the Labour Party in this respect was illuminating: Labour knew long before 6 May that they wanted to overthrow Leanne Wood in the Rhondda and, indeed, thought it likely they would win very easily,” he said.
“However, it was only in the latter days of the campaign that information began to circulate widely in the political world. Labour knows there will be plenty of opportunity for celebration once the victory was sealed.”
In the article Richard Wyn Jones also said that there was “nothing inevitable about Plaid Cymru’s shortcomings” and that the party could take significant steps towards improving its results.
Among these were to improve the party’s election-winning machine and also to be honest about their own failings.
“In politics as in life in general, there is a natural tendency to respond to disappointment by being defensive,” he said.
“But in politics as in life in general, it is also important that we are prepared to ask hard questions about how we dealt with those things that are within our control and which could or should have been foreseen. The experience of the last decade suggests that Plaid Cymru struggles to do that.
“So the first step in restoring Plaid Cymru’s organization – perhaps the most important step – is to conduct an honest internal review of what happened in the May election.
“Let’s not be naïve: many within the party would find it easier to avoid such a process as the results could be quite uncomfortable.
“However, if the party is not prepared to put its own internal procedures in order, then other elections will be followed by a host of articles discussing Labour’s success and Plaid Cymru’s disappointment.
“Of course, Labour will welcome that, but surely Plaid Cymru members and supporters are fed up?”