Is there any way back for Neil McEvoy?

Neil McEvoy AM

Ifan Morgan Jones

Although it was barely mentioned by Plaid Cymru themselves or the media, perhaps the most significant result of the conference in Swansea over the weekend was the re-election of Alun Ffred Jones as party Chair.

Plaid’s Cardiff West branch, the power base of Neil McEvoy AM, had nominated eight candidates for key positions, including Dr. Dewi Evans as a challenger for Alun Ffred Jones’ position.

Plaid Cymru’s leadership had been very concerned that this was an attempted takeover of the party by those keen on reinstating Neil McEvoy as a Plaid Cymru AM.

There were whispers about entryism, with one Facebook post making the rounds that suggested joining the party to vote for Dewi Evans before cancelling membership after the conference.

The installation of a party Chair favourable to his cause was seen as a last roll of the dice for Neil McEvoy’s hopes of re-entering the party before the 2021 Welsh Parliament elections.

I had stated a few weeks ago that this was probably a more important contest to the future of Plaid Cymru than last year’s leadership election when Adam Price defeated Leanne Wood.

If Neil McEvoy’s supporters had taken control of the NEC it could have resulted in as radical a shift in the party’s direction as Momentum’s takeover of the Labour party.

However, Dewi Evans lost the vote by a reported 400 votes to 135.

 

Sensible

Some suggested on social media that the voting system was unfair, and that if all members of Plaid Cymru had been able to vote, Dewi Evans would have won.

They pointed out that over 8,000 Plaid Cymru members did not vote in the election at all.

This claim, in my opinion, does not stand up to much scrutiny. If it had been an election in which all Plaid Cymru members could vote, the result would very likely to have been even more lopsided.

Dewi Evans’ greatest hope of winning was essentially to ensure that his own circle of supporters, both from Cardiff West and his own ‘power base’ in Carmarthen (Swansea sat very conveniently between these two points), outnumbered Alun Ffred’s on the day.

But if the vote had been open to a postal or online ballot of all members, Alun Ffred Jones could have drawn on greater support from his own constituancy in the north-west (he was until 2016 the Arfon Assembly Member).

The other claim was that some members found that, on attending the conference, they could not vote because they had joined the party too recently.

This however seems like a sensible precaution to stop the entryism mentioned above.

Discontent

The truth is that this result was not a good one for Neil McEvoy’s supporters and suggests that the idea that the party membership at large is crying out for change at the top of the party is probably a myth.

Neil McEvoy’s star rose within the party at a time when there was a fair amount of discontent after many years of political stagnation.

The party had been bumping along at 20% or so in the polls since the disappointing election of 2003, and many were looking around for a spark that would bring it to life.

A lot has happened in the last year, however:

There’s no guarantee that any of this will pay off in the 2021 election, of course, but for the moment much of the discontent within the party seems to have evaporated.

While many like and support Neil McEvoy, they seem to have come to the conclusion that undermining the current leadership to insist on his re-inclusion isn’t a risk worth taking.

Self-destructive

What this means is that Neil McEvoy will almost certainly now fight for Cardiff West in 2021 as an independent politician.

This will probably guarantee Mark Drakeford’s re-election. Together, Plaid Cymru and Neil McEvoy could probably have won the seat. Apart? Not much chance.

This is a shame for both Plaid Cymru and Neil McEvoy and not the result that either would have wanted.

A golden opportunity for them to take the seat of a sitting Labour First Minister looks likely to have been squandered, for no particularly good reason.

Not only is it a squandering of an electoral opportunity, but of Neil McEvoy’s own ability. He is a working-class, popular politician with a real talent for taking on the establishment both on Cardiff Council and down in the Bay ‘bubble’.

He brought to Plaid Cymru something I think was really needed, which was the ability to connect with communities, both BAME and working-class, with which Plaid has struggled with in the past.

I’m not naive enough, however, to buy the narrative that Neil McEvoy’s attack on the establishment was what finished him off.

As I said rather prophetically back in 2017: “The challenge for Neil McEvoy will be to temper his abrasive nature so that it can’t be used as a means of attacking him, while retaining his reputation for no-nonsense straight-talking and taking on the Welsh establishment.”

Unfortunately, tempering his abrasive nature is something he has not been able to do, and he too often lands himself in hot water for no good reason.

This self-destructive streak was encapsulated in the week leading up to the conference by his decision to retweet a grossly offensive tweet about trans people.

Neil McEvoy later deleted this retweet and said that it was a “mistake”. But as far as I can tell, he has not apologised, and continues to link to a particularly bile-soaked blog on the same issue.

Whatever your views on trans rights – I am personally very supportive  – sharing this kind of hateful language is either extremely negligent or clearly not acceptable by an elected representative.

It’s particular politically self-destructive in the run up to a vote that would decide his political future and a smack in the face for supporters who had previously swallowed the line that all attacks on him were just the establishment trying to stitch him up.

If he wants to realise his potential, Neil McEvoy needs to start taking responsibility for his own conduct and start contemplating how he has managed to alienate so many people.

Yes, of course, his political opponents are out to get him. But boy, does he make it easy for them by giving them a hell of a lot of ammunition to shoot at him with.

If he wants to survive as a politician in Plaid Cymru, or any other political party, he and his supporters need to stop complaining about being hard done by and take that on board.

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Idrisjr humphrysRhosdduAlwyn J EvansJonathan Edwards Recent comment authors
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Jonathan Edwards
Guest
Jonathan Edwards

Agree with a lot of this, including the plain fact that Neil can certainly be abrasive. But is this so bad? Terminal? You say it would “undermining the current leadership to insist on his re-inclusion”. Surely not? Here’s my take. Adam Price spoke this time about ‘Cwtch’ and last time about healing Plaid’s quarrels. Same as Dewi’s point, really. I agree with both. Here’s the problem which re-admitting Neil would cause. It would not undermine AP the Leader. Neil can work effectively within the system. It would spark a reaction by a number of AMs. Plaid’s problem would be that… Read more »

Alwyn Evans
Guest
Alwyn Evans

Overall, I’d agree with the thrust of Jonathan Edwards’ remarks, but I would point out that the description of Plaid as having been ‘taken over’ by the ‘National Left’ and the ‘Womens Section’ hardly accords with my experience of many mainstream Plaid voters. Yes, I’m glad that strong, effective women are increasingly taking a leading activist role in Plaid, and that many are not backward in making themselves heard on many issues of inclusion. The difficulty of inclusion is that some people’s inclusion is someone else’s intolerance. So, for many like myself who while moving far more leftwards than my… Read more »

Royston Jones
Guest

In many ways Saturday’s conference was a re-run of last year’s leadership contest. Being in Swansea favoured the left and those who enjoy playing identity politics over those wanting to loosen this group’s hold on the party. For this faction, representing only a minority of members, is focused on Cardiff Bay and found overwhelmingly in the south – as last year’s leadership election proved. Concentrating on Neil McEvoy and making threats to break away if he was re-admitted served the interests of this faction this time around. Because others in the party – fearing a split – were persuaded to… Read more »

Ben Angwin
Guest
Ben Angwin

Why do you hate everyone?

Royston Jones
Guest

No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, young Benji. I don’t think I hate anyone. There are some I dislike, others I disagree with, but ‘hate’? Why is it always either/or with you people?

Alwyn Evans
Member
Alwyn Evans

‘You people’ seems your standard response.

jr humphrys
Guest
jr humphrys

Unionists, I think.

Huw Davies
Guest
Huw Davies

Not much to like about a clique that acts in such a calculated fashion to deny members participation in an election. No wonder they find it easy to make common cause with the LibDems who provide their own brand of deviance.

Max Wallis
Guest
Max Wallis

Amazingly, Adam’s address included a eulogy of Leanne to compensate or conceal the censure of her for the abusive “arsehole” tweet.
Not only was that contempt for the Senedd, but undermines the case for special efforts to protect women politicians from abusive misogynists.
It also bolstered Leanne’s “authority”, so that people swallowed her unfocussed speech replete with assertions about Plaid Ifanc’s vigour and importance.

Conference Goer
Guest
Conference Goer

A fairly balanced article seeing the fault on both or all sides.

What happened was not ‘the Left’ taking against Neil but rather, people such as Rhun, Elin Jones, LSR and Jonathan Edwards campaigning against him.

Conference-going members are receptive to signals from their AMs and MPs. These same endorsements mostly went to Adam Price as leader.

It is based on a complete misinterpretation of why people like me want Adam as leader instead of Leanne, and exaggerates the differences within Plaid Cymru. Who is on the left? People do not think of things in that way.

R ryler
Guest
R ryler

Was Jonathan Edwards opposed to Neil McEvoy?

Conference Goer
Guest
Conference Goer

Yes. He and Liz Saville endorsed Alun Ffred and encouraged people to vote for him. I believe all of the AMs and possibly MPs did the same. The majority of these politicians supported Adam Price to be leader as did I.

Gwynedd
Guest
Gwynedd

Not the same Jonathan Edwards.

Robert Tyler
Guest
Robert Tyler

Could someone clarify this?

Anne Greagsby
Guest
Anne Greagsby

Easy to accuse Neil McEvoy of being abrasive rather than striden shows a working class bias. Yet no complaint about Alun Coxs offensive rant at the conference attacking Cllr Andrea Gibson. No mention of Leanne Wood abusive swearing on Twitter. Why dont Leanne and Cox have to restrain themselves? Their highly offensive behaviour of which there is ample evidence is somehow ok? They support Bethan Sayed in spite of her drink driving . No apologies from Cox or Wood. And no demand for one. Lecture them. Yet all you have on Neil is one retweet that YOU deem highly offensive.… Read more »

Idris
Guest
Idris

Said a woman excluded from the party for her behaviour

Ben Angwin
Guest
Ben Angwin

The page is turned in Cardiff West.

A great chance for the Lib Dems to plant roots west of Afon Taf.

jr humphrys
Guest
jr humphrys

Knot weed?

Mark Edwards
Guest
Mark Edwards

I think the article underplays the growing discontent within Plaid grassroots members and particularly those who work actively in branches with what us seen as a growing elitism within the party. The conference talked about a lot about unity, then proceeded to re-elected Alun and Sian who clearly have not been efficient enough, to date in their roles, to prevent the growing dissatisfaction with many party members over the last 2 years. On another note I was very saddened to see the poor attendances for many of the motions, these motions set the strategic direction of the party and the… Read more »

Jonathan Gammond
Guest
Jonathan Gammond

Do we really need “abrasive” politicians? The least you can expect from politicians is that they engage their brains before they open their mouths and it is not difficult to advocate policies without causing offence. Some politicians are all too ready to tweet and then apologize “for any offence caused” as if it is the audience who are responsible for what has happened. We aren’t; you are.

Jonathan Edwards
Guest
Jonathan Edwards

Yes. you do need abrasive politicians. Ones who don’t accept a politically correct consensus, instinctively support the Labour status quo, but who bully and expel people who they used to be in a relationship with but aren’t now. We need some disrupters who don’t accept Wales being at the bottom of every league. I don’t. McEvoy doesn’t. Neither do many many in Wales, those who voted Leave for example. We all have to wake up and pull for Wales!

Max Wallis
Guest
Max Wallis

Ifan – couldn’t you restrain yourself as Editor – resorting to the descriptor “bile-soaked blog” ?
You admit partiality towards “trans rights” so seeing “tranny wannies” as ‘grossly insulting’ is understandable hyperbole.
Indeed, Mike Mansfield told me there’s no pro-trans editorial line . Yet you refused my opinion pieces on the trans-arguments, eg. that on the Welsh GP Dr Helen Webberly, found criminally guilty of prescribing hormone blockers to girls. So you resort to calling Jac o’the North’s trans-analysis as “bile-soaked” while printing nothing in Nation.Cymru.
Methinks Editorial biases are increasingly overt.

Gwynedd
Guest
Gwynedd

I don’t think that this Jonathan Edwards is Jonathan Edwards MP., but is in fact Neil’s barrister. Also, from what I hard, Dewi had no ‘power base’ in his home constituency and was not nominated by them. If there had been a postal vote, I think the result would be more like 8- 1 for Alun Ffred Jones.

Huw Davies
Guest
Huw Davies

You may speculate as much as you like but that Party needs to adopt some modern electoral methods if it wishes to continue spinning words like integrity, inclusive and democratic. The detachment from reality will end in tears. What has been sown with these antics will come home to roost in a bad harvest come 2021 as the electorate will give you a black eye that will be far worse than Cameron’s mild split lip of June 2016.

Wexit
Guest
Wexit

So, Plaid are supposed to be on a roll? Surely any such upsurge would see an increase in interest from members and supporters in the party’s affairs right? And the party would obviously be doing its utmost to foster that interest and increased awareness about its mission? Unfortunately, the abysmal voting turn-out for such a crucial role as Party Chairman gives the lie to such assertions. 429 votes cast equates to something like 4% of the membership( if we base it on the reported 8,000 total membership). That is a total shocker! When you also consider that 30% of its… Read more »

Gwynedd
Guest
Gwynedd

I’d take a 4-1 victory any time.
The message from the party activists is very clear – we’ve had enough of Neil McEvoy’s machinations.

Alwyn ap Huw
Guest
Alwyn ap Huw

The number of people who voted was 4% of the membership, not 4% of the “electorate”. The “electorate” was those registered as conference delegates so the % of the “electorate” who voted was probably well over 80%. There may be questions about those of us not able to attend conference not being entitled to vote, but there is no question about the turnout amongst those who were entitled to vote.

jr humphrys
Guest
jr humphrys

The justification is they are unworldly. I mean, Trans rights, Adam? You should be howling about Airbus!

Conference Goer
Guest
Conference Goer

No, 429 votes cast is actually unprecedented. Usually only about 100 people vote for these posts. The energetic campaign made Plaid politicians and key councillors and activists close ranks and mobilise voters. There was also significant interest in the race because of the articles here on Nation. There is substantial opposition to Neil because people believe he is disruptive and he falls out with people constantly. But they have also lost all of his electoral and campaigning qualities.

Gruff Williams
Guest
Gruff Williams

Are you referring to Jac o’ the North’s blog as ” particularly bile-soaked” ? If so, could you provide some examples.

Rhosddu
Guest
Rhosddu

“bile-soaked” = “criticism of Plaid Cymru hierarchy”.

Alwyn ap Huw
Guest
Alwyn ap Huw

I am not sure that the comment “if the vote had been open to a postal or online ballot of all members, Alun Ffred Jones could have drawn on greater support from his own constituency in the north-west” is correct. A large number of Gwynedd Councillors (including some who had served on the council with Ffred) wrote a letter of support for Neil a few weeks back. If you used copy and paste to change the name Neil McEvoy to Bethan Sayed you might get closer to the truth about the real cause of Plaid’s problems. She is the divisive,… Read more »

Glen
Guest
Glen

Careful, you’ll be accused of being a misogynist.

Idris
Guest
Idris

appalling and completely inaccurate comment Al.

Gwylon Phillips
Guest
Gwylon Phillips

All I desire of anyone, individual or member of a group is truth and justice. Both seem to be lacking in Plaid at the moment.

Jon Coles
Member

Internal party politicking is very diverting if you like that sort of thing. I am, however, more interested in getting an explanation from those involved is why Plaid AMs are so determined to block the publication of even a suitably redacted Sargeant report. How will the publication affect or embarrass Plaid Cymru? All the party ‘s AMs are doing, as long as an explanation remains unforthcoming, is fostering the notion that Cardiff Bay is a cosy club and giving Neil McEvoy a stick with which to beat them.

Alwyn Evans
Guest
Alwyn Evans

Maybe they are trying to protect the family and the victims by keeping the report private?

Rhosddu
Guest
Rhosddu

Don’t put ideas in their heads. That would be the perfect get-out.

Alwyn J Evans
Guest
Alwyn J Evans

Get out of what. Is anyone alleging anything illegal? Sacking someone isn’t illegal, getting drunk and pushy with women isn’t illegal, having multiple affairs isn’t illegal, bullying staff isn’t illegal. Mcevoy is doing this to settle his own personal scores. Maybe others are trying to protect peoples privacy?

Rhosddu
Guest
Rhosddu

Nah. The get-out refers to Labour and Plaid Cymru refusing to release details of the Sargent inquiry. Since we don’t know why Plaid have sided with Labour over this instead of forcing a disclosure, there’s an inevitable suspicion that both parties have something to hide. It may well be that the allegations against Carl Sargent are well-founded, but there must be something very sensitive that’s compelling the two parties from revealing the facts. Somebody had to raise the issue; it just happens to be Neil the Bogeyman. I don’t think we’ll ever learn the truth over this one, but the… Read more »

Alwyn J Evans
Guest
Alwyn J Evans

The something very sensitive are the allegations, Sergeants conduct, his health, protecting the family and the people who came forward over the years. Is anyone suggesting anything illegal? It’s a private matter. Mcevoy isn’t fighting for justice, he wants it all public for his own reasons. Name anyone who this directly affects us calling for him to push it for them or are asking for full public disclosure? Ask why Mcevoy is so keen on getting victims names publicised or if he wants his private life put under scrutiny by innuendo?

Rhosddu
Guest
Rhosddu

He’s trying to nail Carwyn Jones, not get ‘revenge’ on Deryn. Many people are bemused as to why Plaid AM’s are not behind him on this. What have they got to hide? It’s nothing to do with the gory details of what Carl Sargent allegedly got up to.

Alwyn J Evans
Guest
Alwyn J Evans

No, he’s trying to expose Deryn. He has twisted this whole thing to suit his agenda. People in Deryn are directly connected to what Carl Sargeant did. Neil Mcevoy also has a long history and many personal connections to people in Deryn and the labour party. It’s a private matter, the family don’t want the report released ( at least not his wife and children) I’m sure mcevoy has found a cousin to cover his claims. If you think mcevoy is “draining the bay” you’re mistaken. This is just about him, the women in Deryn and Cardiff labour party. Plaid… Read more »

Rhosddu
Guest
Rhosddu

If he’s trying to expose Deryn, all power to his elbow, surely? I’m sure a compromise could have been reached, with Plaid Cymru support, to withhold sensitive details that might upset Sargent’s family.

It’s a shame, but we’re not going to uncover what Carwyn Jones and Deryn were up to, so eventually Neil’s going to have to drop it. Probably just as well, because there’s no shortage of injustices in Wales for him to square up to, with or without Plaid Cymru support.

Alwyn J Evans
Guest
Alwyn J Evans

Expose Deryn for what? Being a lobbying company isn’t illegal. It’s a straw man campaign.

Rhosddu
Guest
Rhosddu

You’re quite right, it’s not illegal in Wales to be a lobbying company. In the light of the suspicions revolving around Deryn specifically, and their bad reputation among many in the independence movement, however, it seems reasonable, and in the public interest, to wish to expose their involvemt in an affair that many people regard as so manifestly dodgy.

But, as I say, we’ll never know.

Keith Evans
Guest
Keith Evans

Bile soaked? Nonsense,utter tosh .Plaid defend their relationship with Deryn by building a wall of words,transphobic,Misoginistic,homophobic,even racist,no one is immune from this woke smokescreen that the Plaid/Deryn axis continually throw up.It actually didn’t bother me untill they started to try the same nonsensense intersectionality with Yes Cymru.Neils supporters are not akin to momentum, Leannistas have already achieved that in Plaid ,Adam is just window dressing unless he deals with the pernicious and nasty Leanne wing.

Rhosddu
Guest
Rhosddu

The tragedy of Plaid Cymru is that they have now alienated such a large percentage of the wider independence movement that they will haemorrhage votes to such a degree that the 2021 election will be lost, Cardiff West will be squandered, and the Valleys and North East will never trust them despite all the good work done locally by people like Carrie Harper in Wrecsam. All this, just when Welsh Labour are becoming a busted flush. The party’s priorities are now all wrong, their policies totally misguided, inappropriate, and irrelevant, and they wilfully ignore the real problems of colonialism, cultural… Read more »

jr humphrys
Guest
jr humphrys

It is fairly clear that PC is simply a minority Leftist party like so many others in Europe. Standard old hat.
So Cymru needs something less narrow minded. What? Gwlad is anti EU, so they are already yesterdays papers.
The only thing wide enough is YES Cymru. So we who want something bigger must just push for YES.
I cannot see any other way to go other than an NGO direction?

jr humphrys
Guest
jr humphrys

On reflection, I should add that I will still be forced to vote Plaid Cymru, but campaign for YES.