‘Irrelevant’ Plaid is isolated in the Bay Bubble: We need to empower the people of Wales

Neil McEvoy AM

Neil McEvoy

I grew up in the 1970s on a council estate with a memory of nearly everybody’s parents working. I became politicised during the 1980s with the miners’ strike, the teachers’ strikes, cuts and an anti-society right wing dogma ripping apart our communities.
In my young world, Plaid Cymru didn’t exist. I flirted with the Worker’s Revolutionary Party as a fifteen-year-old and then joined the Labour Party in 1987.

That was the start of a journey, because I never quite fitted into Labour; I was too working class, too dark, too outspoken and rejected top down, centralised politics.

My main problem was that I wasn’t particularly good at being told how to think!

Fast forward to 1991 and I listened to a radical Dafydd Elis Thomas address the crowds in a huge anti-Gulf War rally at Hyde Park. I agreed with everything he said and felt a Welsh pride swell in my chest.

In 1995, I met a member of Plaid Cymru for the first time. He didn’t fit into the right wing, racist stereotype I had been sold. I empathised with the oppression he had suffered when he opened his mouth and wanted to use his mother tongue in his homeland.

He was white and I wasn’t, but we had been through incredibly similar experiences.

In 1997 I met many more Plaid members and l recall listening with Labour Party friends to Dafydd Wigley in the Cardiff City Hall. The great man made us all uncomfortable, because we couldn’t fault him! We joked at the time that he should be in the Labour Party. Just 6 years later, we would all be in Plaid Cymru.

Goal

The most outstanding point of all this was that Plaid Cymru was a well-kept secret. Unfortunately, it still is in too many areas of Wales; fourteen lost deposits in June tell us that.

My political party is as irrelevant to many Welsh youngsters in 2017, as it was to me in 1987; this needs to change.

Plaid needs to be confident and proud of what we are, or perhaps what we should be.

Plaid should be a social movement, not just a political party isolated in the Bay Bubble. We should loudly stand for a fully self-governing and sovereign Wales at every given opportunity.

The national Welsh project must be our centre of gravity. The national cause is more important than any individual or indeed any group of individuals. Just look at what Sinn Fein and the SNP have achieved with a united goal.

We must define our rights as Welsh people through a Welsh constitution. This will establish the standards we can expect in public life through a social contract between Welsh people and the Welsh institutions that govern us; all backed up by a fully-fledged sovereign law system.

We must stand for a reversal of the centuries old trend of young people having to leave Wales to seek their fortune. Neo-liberal capitalism continues to be a very isolating and lonely system of economics that we must reject. No amount of consumerism can fill the voids left in people’s lives in 21st century Wales.

Building community is the key. We should also seek to give people a stake in their workplace. John Lewis shows how successful an employee owned business can be; Wales has a radical history of workers’ cooperatives. Plaid also needs to be pushing this for the industries of the future. Relentlessly defending free trade agreements is not going to get us anywhere and aids neo-liberalism.

Social and environmental criteria must be inserted into economic growth models and plans. Furthermore, Plaid should put proper distance between the Party and Cardiff Bay lobbyists; we should clean up the Bay in every sense.

Above all we must light up the national imagination, empowering people and communities from the bottom up. I never did like top down politics; Plaid must practise grassroots innovation. Plaid politicians should get elected to empower people to live their own lives.

Cosy

Crucially, instead of meekly seeking to “influence” Labour to implement Plaid Manifesto ideas, which is our current trajectory, we should embrace full-on opposition.

Opposition done in the right way carries its own power; a group of just 2 Plaid councillors out of 75 in Cardiff 2012-2017 proved this time and time again.

As just one example, look at Ysgol Hamadrayad in Butetown. 45 out of 75 Labour councillors were unable to stop the rolling ball of opposition we kick started in September 2013 and Labour’s decision to scrap the new Welsh medium school was defeated.

What could 11 Plaid AMs do against a Labour Government with a soon to be wafer thin majority? Let’s find out.

I want to see the Plaid Group in the Assembly supporting what is right, but opposing with every ounce of our energy what is wrong.

Let’s stop hearing “Would the First Minister agree…” questions from Plaid and bin the cosy pairing system, where we have prior agreement on how many votes the Government will win by.

Let’s take Welsh politics to the Welsh people outside of Cardiff Bay.

Labour has run Wales for close on 100 years and look at the state we are in. In 1997 Labour won in Westminster with a massive majority. After the unprecedented loyalty Wales showed to Labour, you would have thought that going to war on poverty in Wales would have been the priority.

But instead Labour spent billions going to war in Afghanistan and Iraq. They showed no loyalty to us and they never will.

It is time for change. Plaid Cymru must prove through actions that we are that change. I want to defeat the Welsh Establishment. I don’t want to be instructed to bend my knee to it.

Labour is the Establishment in Wales. We will not move Wales forward until we move Labour out of the way. Let’s get it done.

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Dafis
Guest
Dafis

sound balanced comments from Mr McEvoy, much as expected. This man has the right “form”and people well away from the Cardiff bubble are beginning to see him as a thought leader rather than the compliant group who seem more concerned about “what Labour may think”. He’s been inside the Labour Party and knows how bad it stinks. Just the man to tell it as it is.

The Bellwether
Guest
The Bellwether

Is Mr.McEvoy the stalking horse or the horse?

D Maitland
Guest
D Maitland

If he is the horse it can only be the proverbial dead one surely? His unfortunate habit of offending and alienating groups and people campaigning against domestic violence is not likely to endear him to the half of the Welsh electorate made up of women.

sibrydionmawr
Guest

Very encouraging words. I’m not so sure about the reference to John Lewis Partnership, as the company isn’t as enlightened as all that, (they have form for exploiting contract cleaners, for example) and perhaps the huge Mondragon Corporation would have been a better example, (though this federation of worker co-ops has its less positive sides too). Mondragon started as a small co-operative making paraffin heaters in 1956 and has grown immensely. Imagine what could happen if a series of small, worker owned enterprises were helped into existence using freely available Open Source technologies that immensely lower the barriers to entry… Read more »

David
Guest
David

Hello. I am an Australian with Welsh ancestry who has been lurking on this site since almost the beginning. I am very encouraged by what I have been reading so far in all of your articles and reader comments published to date. I am motivated to finally post myself to thank you for your encouraging words regarding the potential of open source, Sibrydionmawr. I work at Red Hat and recently we have been having internal discussions about our raison d’etre. One thing that has come up time and again is that many of us are passionate about enterprise open source… Read more »

sibrydionmawr
Guest

I’m actually trying to write an article, which I hope will be published here, about the potential benefits of adopting Open Source solutions. All of us know how marginalised Wales is in so many ways, and I don’t see that changing any time soon, and I think that the only way we have much of a chance of improving our country is through widespread adoption of Open Source technologies that could allow us to develop small scale localised but connected industries that would otherwise be completely out of the question due to the need for the capital intensity that just… Read more »

People Republic of Ceredigion
Guest
People Republic of Ceredigion

Plaid’s weakness is also its strength. Its not a working class party, its a diverse party with a membership who have sigificant range of different priorities. Most are not aligned with the ambitions of the leadership (current or future if above). Rather than telling us what to think, both Neil and Leanne could do with listening a lot more to the people of Wales and Plaid members. A party should be far more than just its leadership.

glasiad
Guest
glasiad

Of the great leaders, the people will say, we did it ourselves. – Lao Tzu

Elin Davies
Guest
Elin Davies

A lot of gocd in here. Neil clearly has the potential to deliver on Leanne’s leadership pitch that she could find new support in areas Plaid has never won before. She failed at this. One part struck me which gets to the heart of why Plaid can’t do this: “We must stand for a reversal of the centuries old trend of young people having to leave Wales to seek their fortune.” These days this happens because good candidates are being passed over for jobs because they don’t speak Welsh. They are oftern beaten by a less experienced person who does.… Read more »

Leia
Guest

Are you able to give some examples of the kind of jobs and kinds of employers which have done this?

Tal Mac
Guest
Tal Mac

I somehow doubt your name is Elin Davies.

Alun
Guest
Alun

Tal Mac doesn’t sound that convincing either. Play the ball, not the person.

Having said that, Elin’s comment doesn’t explain why Welsh-speaking young people are leaving too.

Royston Jones
Guest

‘Elin’ is clearly a troll. How does ‘she’ explain so many top jobs in local government, health boards, public life, third sector, higher education, private businesses, Anglican church, etc,., etc., going to people who don’t speak Welsh, people who AREN’T Welsh?

sibrydionmawr
Guest

In situations where there is no language requirement for the job this practice, if it exists, is reprehensible. The reality is that there are many jobs where there should be a specific requirement that a postholder should be Welsh speaking, but no such requirement exists, and is often ‘desirable’ which leads to many non-Welsh speakers being appointed to many posts that should go to Welsh speakers, e.g. in areas where there is a likelyhood that the people they will often deal with are Welsh speakers in communities where Welsh is the normal medium of everyday life. I live in Cardiff,… Read more »

Meic Owen
Guest
Meic Owen

Utter nonsense “Elin Davies”, Welsh speakers are moving out to find better paid jobs too. So don’t start your sectarian anti-Welsh language divisive drivel on here please.

A Gog
Guest
A Gog

“its a diverse party with a membership who have significant range of different priorities.” This describes Cymru perfectly. Plaid Cymru are the Party of Wales afterall. Neil McEvoy – a man of Cymru!

john west
Guest
john west

“We will not move Wales forward until we move Labour out of the way. Let’s get it done.” Now that is the starting point for an interesting article. How does the author propose to do that? The rest of the article is a not-so-subtle bid for the leadership. As for Plaid being irrelevant… we have as many MPs as we’ve ever had, equal our greatest number of councillors, we run four councils, our two Police Commissioners are setting the agenda and our AMs are challenging a weak and tired Labour Government. His mention of co-ops and a grassroots party could… Read more »

Jason Morgab
Guest
Jason Morgab

Grassroots members may well be working hard to get rid of Labour. The problem is – as this article itself implies – most of their AMs are not.

Anarchist and Welsh Nash
Guest

Some sound points from Neil here. He’s is absolutely on the money that Plaid Cymru have to put the Welsh National Project first and foremost And build up from community level rather than focusing on the bubble in the bay. Not pandering to identity/gender/progressive or whatever other type of politics is the flavour of the month above all else as has been the case over the past few years. I would like to see him take part in a leadership contest for Plaid. He could definitely reach people that other much vaunted candidates could not, e.g Rhun ap Iorwerth. Although… Read more »

leigh richards
Guest

“Not pandering to identity/gender/progressive or whatever other type of politics” well if that’s what irks about Leanne you wont get much joy out of your preferred alternatives (Neil McEvoy and Jonathan Edwards). Both Neil and Jonathan are firmly on the ‘progressive’ side of the political spectrum – Jonathan even quoted the revolutionary socialist Che Guevara when he was first elected to Westminster.

The Plaid leadership rule you speak of is in place because Wales own Senedd rightly takes precedence over the British state’s Westminster parliament

Neil McEvoy
Guest
Neil McEvoy

Fringe meeting Friday 20th October, lunchtime at the Royal Celtic Hotel. Buffet provided by sponsors. “20:20, a Clear Vision for Plaid going into 2021.” Ideas in the article to be discussed.

Capitalist and Welshnash
Guest
Capitalist and Welshnash

I support most of what Neil McEvoy is saying here. But liberalism is not the problem, Britishness is. After independence, conservatives and capitalists will be a part of this country. If we do not include them as part of an independent Wales, it will lead to political and social tensions for generations after idependence as they try to assert a voice for themselves.

CambroUiDunlainge
Guest
CambroUiDunlainge

…and if those conservatives and capitalists are ignored they’ll just be targeted by whatever remains of pro-Unionism (probably as a political party unto themselves). It’d be literally like giving Westminster a beachhead in which to meddle and even possibly rule by proxy. So you are very correct.

If we cannot make a movement that represents the people now… what chance do we have in holding an independent nation together?

Meriel
Guest
Meriel

The only irrelevant thing here is the author. It’s astonishing that he has any support given his reported bullying case.

leigh richards
Guest

Well Neil is never one to hold back, and it seems clear this piece is a thinly disguised attack on plaid’s leadership. But it should be pointed out Leanne Wood won a labour heartland seat last year (rhondda) defeating a welsh labour heavyweight (leighton andrews) in the process. Also worth pointing out that like neil she had a working class upbringing and was ‘politicised during the 80s with the miners’ strike, the teachers’ strikes, cuts and an anti-society right wing dogma ripping apart our communities’.  

Stephen Edwards
Guest
Stephen Edwards

I have been a critic of Plaid for many years, outwardly they are seeking independence but are afraid to actually achieve it.
Plaid is just another Labour Party full of nepotism and weak leadership. I have read a few things about Neil and must say he is saying the right things and I like his aggressive approach to politics but still not sure if it’s not just hot air, only time will tell.
Plaid needs new and progressive leadership or it will die.

Red Dragon Jim
Guest
Red Dragon Jim

I’m a member and have never heard of nepotism! Would like examples!

There is no chance of Plaid Cymru dying and it isn’t going backwards in seats, but debate and discussion about growing into more places in Wales is vital and well-made. What we shouldn’t do is extend the debate into terrain like Plaid is nepotist etc.

Occupy Cardiff
Guest
Occupy Cardiff

Is neil McEvoys sister a councillor in cardiff on merit or nepotism?

Red Dragon Jim
Guest
Red Dragon Jim

Didn’t know she was, seems fine to me it’s elections. Just not keen on casual remarks being thrown around about my party. They are many things but not nepotists.

Dafydd ap Gwilym
Guest

Well said Neil!

Meirion
Guest
Meirion

We don’t need more messing around with co-ops. It’s romanticised. Ditto easy slogans about neo-liberalism. We need a private sector economy. I’d be surprised to hear what trade deals Plaid Cymru are relentlessly defending because MacEvoy doesn’t actually say and I’ve only heard them attack trade. Spell it out.

Tame Frontiersman
Guest
Tame Frontiersman

Yes, the Labour Party is the political establishment in Wales- and the Labour Party in Wales has always been distracted by the aspiration of gaining power at Westminster. Plaid Cymru has developed into, or perhaps always been, something of cosy Welsh Institution What Wales needs is a radical, transformative party with a sense of urgency with a charismatic leader capable of reaching out to the diversity which is modern Wales and who is keenly aware the world stands on the threshold of huge, technological, social and quite probably environmental change and understands the threats and opportunities posed. “Empowerment” like that… Read more »

Capitalist and Welshnash
Guest
Capitalist and Welshnash

As long as those of us who wish to be spared being part of the workers’ struggle can still be a part of Wales and achieving independence.

William Habib Steele
Guest
William Habib Steele

I’m a member of the Scottish National Party. I came to Wales 15 months ago. I’d love to join Plaid Cymru, bur a great deal of my interest and effort is put into the Scottish Independence movement. We’re almost there. It will, however, take every every thought and passion to present the true case for independence when the British Nationalist establishment and their “Newspaper” propagandists come against as as they dis with lies and distortions, and breaking of the Edinburgh Agreement , as they did in 2014. I wish Wales well, and will do all I can to further the… Read more »

Cofi Dre
Guest
Cofi Dre

McEvoy scares the crap out of Labour. I can’t say the same of any other Plaid AMs at the moment. Labour try all they can to destroy him, including a politically-motivated ‘bullying case’ fitted up by an ‘ombudsman’ who is an ex-Labour political wonk. Labour are the establishment and Plaid has a choice: take on the establishment or become a rather minor part of it. McEvoy has scared Labour, the tories, lobbying firms, property developers, and nepotistic councillors, as well as a FM who doesn’t tell the truth on certain key matters. It’s about time Plaid AMs got their hands… Read more »

andrewjinks
Guest

I disagree completely. McEvoy’s politics are a gift to Labour. McEvoy’s politics are divisive. He alienates people who should be natural supporters of Plaid Cymru. Instead of seeking allies he drives people away by his confrontational, aggressive and manipulative way of doing things. This style of political work is a major reason why Plaid Cymru has not broken through in Cardiff. I’ve lost count of the number of people I’ve spoken to who won’t vote for Plaid despite our policies being what they support, because the way that he behaves appals them. He is the face of Plaid Cymru in… Read more »

CambroUiDunlainge
Guest
CambroUiDunlainge

The Welsh people should be natural supporters of Plaid… but they’re a gift to Unionism because their politics are divisive. See what I did there? You may have your personal opinions on Neil McEvoy… but it doesn’t take away from his point really does it? Focus on the message not the man… I mean it could be worse he could be a liberal cultist swearing bizarre oaths in a Cardiff bar. See what i did there?

andrewjinks
Guest

These are my opinions about Neil McEvoy’s politics. You are missing my point entirely. My point is that his message is wrong. His politics are a gift to Labour because he alienates people who he should be seeking to work with, his sectarian outlook repels people who would otherwise be voting for us. In many cases people who have voted for us in the past. You compare the situation Plaid Cymru is in in Cardiff with our position in the Rhondda, and you can see where McEvoy’s politics gets us. It doesn’t deliver the change he claims for it, in… Read more »

CambroUiDunlainge
Guest
CambroUiDunlainge

I’m not missing your point at all. I think you’re being a little naive about it. For starters how can you compare Cardiff to Rhondda? Ones ignored by Labour and Tory alike… and Leanne is a local girl. She won Rhondda with a nice swing… but you cannot compare impoverished, ignored Rhondda with Cardiff. Now if McEvoy’s politics are a gift to Labour and his message is wrong… how come he increased his vote share by 11% last year? Didn’t Mark Drakeford lose about 11% of the vote share? Hmm. So what would not be a gift to Labour? Not… Read more »

andrewjinks
Guest

Your view is full of contradictions. Plaid Cymru challenges Labour all of the time, McEvoy is putting forward an absurd ‘straw man’ argument by his suggestion that the current leadership of the party is not interested in challenging Labour. And as I have pointed out, Leanne Wood is actually challenging Labour more effectively than McEvoy’s sectarian posturing. Plaid are taking seats from Labour in Rhondda, the same is not the case in Cardiff, and if you think the reasons are unconnected with McEvoy then in my opinion you are deluding yourself.

Red Dragon Jim
Guest
Red Dragon Jim

What a depressing and deflating argument to read online. Where does it leave those of us who like both Leanne and Neil, and make an evidence based judgement from elections that they’ve both taken on Labour?

CambroUiDunlainge
Guest
CambroUiDunlainge

If you’re going to state that my comment was full of contradictions at least list them… with something more than your opinion. Fact is McEvoy challenges Labour – they don’t like him because hes populist. Lets not get confused here… as you clearly already have… populism exists on both left and right so don’t be thinking Brexit or Trump. They are both populist conservatism whereas McEvoy is populist socialism. But the point I’m making here is populism is a threat to the establishment no matter what quarter it comes from – because its popular. I’m not taking Leanne’s victory away… Read more »

Cymru Rydd
Guest
Cymru Rydd

Interesting point there by Cofi Dre. He/ she has hit the nail on the head. There is definitely a growing interest in Independence for Wales. You can really sense it out there. But it correlates with a drop in electoral support for Plaid Cymru and a deep disillusionment in the ranks about the party and its current leadership. Now, you would think that interest in independence would be affected by this, and that the whole concept would thus become irrelevant. But in fact it’s the exact opposite! Hard to explain this surge in interest in Indepedence when the only party… Read more »

Martin
Guest
Martin

Uh, its actually the exact same thing. Support for independence went up if it was tied to stopping a Tory majority UK Government (in Yes Cymru’s research).

This is the exact same reason Plaid’s support (if not seats) fell in the Westminster election. Voters went Labour to stop the Tories.

Support and seats went up in local elections where the issues were more local. It’s not that hard to work out?

Occupy Cardiff
Guest
Occupy Cardiff

Leanne wood said this about progressive community politics.

http://leannewoodamac.blogspot.co.uk/2011/11/occupy-cardiff.html?m=1

Neil mcevoy had people arrested because there was a car show on.

Keep sucking the kool aid Plaid. All this rubbish of being inspired by plaid members, he was kicked out of the CLP and then tried to join the greens before settling for plaid years after his supposed damascus moment.

Mcevoy just keeps on lying. The more he says the more obvious his BS becomes. Didn’t he join the party because he met a swedish welsh speaker in magaluf? Different day, different tale. What a tangled web he weaves.

Chantel Mathias
Guest

‘we have prior agreement on how many votes the Government will win by’

Parry
Guest
Parry

I was with a group of friends, most of whom vote Plaid and admire Leanne Wood, at the Save Womanby Street rally a few months ago when Macevoy got up on the stage to peddle his own agenda and dig into Labour. None of us are active in Plaid, but we were all cringing. He talks of appealing to young people but he was doing exactly the opposite. It was painful to watch.

Professional Autism Advice
Guest

I agree with Neil’s view. Plaid needs to set out an exciting new vision for Wales. The future is a blank canvass. Labour is more interested in their own careers, and have created a Senedd that is bland and a clone of Whitehall. Often public sector bodies , funded by the Welsh Government work against the people, stifling creativity an entrepreneurship, and persecuting the hard working , decent people of Wales. In terms of character, local councils and the Welsh Government are as un Welsh in temperament as you can get. Often spiteful, dismissive and out of touch. Labour is… Read more »

neiljmcevoyNeil McEvoy
Guest

A couple of observations on some comments. RE: Occupy. The usual lies peddled by the same UK nats who posture and are greatly disturbed by Plaid’s progress in Cardiff. Andrew Jinks also comes out with his UK nat comrades’ usual smears. Little substance, more allegation. Data does not lie. Cardiff West is the stand out area in Wales for growth in Plaid Assembly vote. Only 4 constituencies have grown Assembly votes since 1999. 3,402 to 10,205 in Cardiff West is by far the best.. The problem with Andrew’s narrative is that facts get in the way. As a candidate in… Read more »

andrewjinks
Guest

Where is the smear or lie in anything I said Neil? It is a matter of public record that you were suspended from the party in 2011 because of your online bullying of workers at Welsh Women’s Aid. The only smearing in this thread is your implication that I am ‘a UK Nat’ because I am critical of you. No-one who knows me would recognise me in that description. I invite anyone who is interested to examine my Twitter feed https://twitter.com/andrew_jinks or my facebook page https://www.facebook.com/andrew.jinks.7 and decide for themselves. I was an activist in Cardiff West Plaid Cymru as… Read more »

Occupy Cardiff
Guest
Occupy Cardiff

Unredact all your emails concerning the occupy protest. It’s easy to prove it either way. You won’t because you know the truth. Then name 3 successes you’ve had in cardiff, not protests you’ve bandwagonned and claimed success. Interesting how you proclaim you’re progressive and positive but the only engagement on this page is with those who know you better and present you negatively. Narcissism at its finest. Cardiff’s trump,except your further to the right.

Neil McEvoy
Guest
Neil McEvoy

Andrew, I hadn’t realised it was you posting as “Occupy” also. My comments re: lies & UK nats pertained to that post. I wasn’t suspended for bullying anyone in 2011 by the way. In language which could have been better phrased, I was highlighting the dangers of good fathers being kept out of childrens’ lives and the damage done to children as a result. People like you seem to think it is fine and dandy to support people withdrawing contact from loving parents. I don’t. As for your comments on electoral support, the figures say more than you ever could.

andrewjinks
Guest

I haven’t posted as anyone except myself Neil, I have no idea who is posting as Occupy Cardiff. I never post anonymously, because I don’t really agree with it, it undermines open debate in my opinion.

As it happens I disagree with large parts of what they say, (whoever they are). The investigation by NetPol showed absolutely no evidence that you were responsible for the break-up of the demonstration at Cardiff Castle by police, and you and the rest of the Plaid Cymru group on the council were very supportive of those arrested at the time.