If Plaid Cymru wants to appeal to all of Wales it needs to ditch republicanism
Abraham Somers Cocks
If Plaid Cymru wants to make headway amongst the bulk of voters in Wales they need to drop their opposition to the monarchy.
In the grand scale of things, having a monarchy just isn’t a big enough problem to make it worth squandering the votes of the majority of the people in Wales who support the Royal Family.
A Constitutional Monarchy doesn’t make this country any less democratic.
According to the Democracy Index report of 2016, the five most democratic countries in the world were 1) Norway, 2) Iceland, 3) Sweden, 4) New Zealand, and 5) Denmark.
Four of these are monarchies and only one, Iceland, is a republic.
Yes, there are constitutional monarchies which are authoritarian, like Saudi-Arabia. But to compare the modern UK, or indeed an independent Wales to any of them, is laughable.
Plaid Cymru should look at the much more pragmatic SNP. They have made it clear that they have no intention of abolishing the monarchy in an independent Scotland.
Does that make them any less of a nationalist party than Plaid Cymru? Of course not.
But it does make them much more appealing to the Scottish electorate, which in turn has made them much more likely to win independence.
But being anti-monarchy has not made Plaid Cymru any more ‘anti-establishment,’ or ‘of the people’ – because the people, in general, support the monarchy!
All it’s done is make Welsh nationalism palatable to a much smaller proportion of the populace. According to YouGov, just 8% of the population of Wales are actively opposed to the Monarchy.
Ditching republicanism won’t lose Plaid Cymru any votes. If you’re a republican and a nationalist, there’s nowhere else to go.
So Plaid Cymru has a choice: it can either be anti-monarchy and lose the support of voters who are pro-monarchy, or be like the SNP and win the votes of both republicans and monarchists.
Some may argue that Welsh antipathy to the royal family goes back to the conquest of Wales and the death of the Welsh tywysogion.
But what is apparent when you go back and look at the Welsh nationalism of the 19th and the first half of the 20th century is that the current antipathy towards the Royal Family is a largely recent phenomenon.
Saunders Lewis was, in his own words, a ‘strong monarchist’. So too was David James Davies, who was also one of the founding members in 1925.
Lewis was a radical conservative but Davies was firmly on the left back then and looked to the Danish model of both social democracy and constitutional monarchy as a goal for Wales.
So, when I talk about tuning down on the republicanism, I’m not talking about a great break in the tradition but the reversal of a more recent trend.
Republicans will complain that the Royal Family are ‘English’ or even ‘German’. But in truth they’re just a mish-mash of European Royal families – including Welsh.
Prince George is descended from Llewelyn the Last on both sides of his family, because Welsh and English nobility intermarried quite a bit.
So Plaid Cymru needs to stop shooting itself in the foot by being so vocal in its opposition to the monarchy.
I’ve met plenty of people in Wales who would never consider voting Plaid under Leanne Wood precisely because of her anti-monarchism.
There are much more important issues facing Wales today, and Plaid Cymru shouldn’t allow this one trifling issue to stop them gaining power and setting Wales right.
Such a move away from republicanism could well create a new tradition in the party’s history – that of winning national elections and governing Wales.