Cynog Dafis, former Plaid Cymru MP for Ceredigion and AM for Mid and West Wales
Plaid Cymru is in the electoral doldrums. We narrowly averted disaster in the 2017 election and our membership is stagnant at a time of buzzing, if sceptical, interest in the political process.
Both Labour and the Tories are deeply divided on the question of Europe, while the hapless LibDems remain marginalised and UKIP is in meltdown.
Despite this, the polls show at best a marginal increase in support for Plaid Cymru. If we are to break through, SNP-style, in 2021, a clear possibility, Plaid needs to change radically. Changing the leader is only one part of that, but it is nevertheless crucial.
So, I ask myself, in these circumstances what kind of leader does Plaid Cymru need?
An out-and-out commitment to the development of Wales as a nation can be taken as read. But we also need someone with the knowledge and creative imagination to interpret our nation’s past, analyse its present and inspirationally point the way to its future – as Gwynfor so persuasively did.
This leader also needs to know, respect and draw upon the history of the Party and the wider movement of which it is a part.
But that is not enough. S/he must have the intellectual and informational capacity to present our vision of a transformed Wales in the wider context – British, European, global – at a time of unprecedented change and mounting crisis.
We need a leader with the intellectual authority and reach that will make, not just the Welsh, but also the UK and wider media and political audience sit up and take notice.
The heart of the matter though is being able to construct and articulate a message, rooted in Plaid Cymru principles, that can inspire anew our members and supporters while reaching out to a far wider base of support.
Such a message must be inspirational and ambitious and at the same time convincing and unthreatening.
We need a leader who has the creative imagination to think outside the box, to come up with the kind of innovative, transformational proposals which demonstrate how Wales can plough its own policy furrow and march onward to greater self-government, even independence.
But a sceptical public will want to be convinced that visionary policies can be practically delivered, so our leader had best be something of a technocrat, capable of doing and mastering the sums.
Crucially s/he will need outstanding oratorical and linguistic skills, preferably in both languages.
We will need a leader who will listen, courteously and attentively, to voices within and without the party, who can both charm and engage: the kind of person who has the desire and the skills to negotiate and collaborate as necessary.
But when push comes to shove we also need a leader with steel in her/his composition, who can score points in the rough and tumble of political debate and when the occasion arises put an opponent on the canvas.
Oh yes – also a leader who can think strategically and tactically.
So where does this leave us? All three candidates have some of the characteristics necessary to lead the transformation in Plaid Cymru’s prospects and the change Wales needs. Only one, it seems to me, meets well-nigh all of the criteria. It has to be Adam Price.
Adam I know would regard it as a high privilege to be elected leader of Plaid Cymru.
For my part, I would feel both proud and newly motivated to have Adam Price, described to me by a disenchanted Labour supporter as ‘the outstanding politician of his generation’, as leader of the party of which I have been a member for 63 years.