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Opinion

Siân Gwenllian MS: ‘Jonathan Edwards will resume his title of Plaid MP – but my view has not changed’

10 Aug 2022 4 minute read
Sian Gwenllian picture by Senedd Cymru. Jonathan Edwards picture by Plaid Cymru.

Siân Gwenllian, Member of the Senedd for Arfon and Communications Director on the Plaid Cymru National Executive Committee

Violence against women, including domestic violence, is rife within our society. Men suffer from domestic violence and coercive behaviour too; but women suffer far more often.

Welsh Women’s Aid say that male violence against women is at epidemic levels across Wales and that at least one in three women across the UK will experience it. Police data shows that the Covid-19 lockdowns intensified already record high incidents of domestic violence and abuse in Wales.

The use of violence by any individual against another is totally unacceptable. When a man is violent against a woman (including those who identify as women) there is also a deeper, structural, systemic force at play.

Gender-based violence on the scale that is prevalent today is indicative of gender inequality and power imbalance at its most toxic and visible form. Physical power is used to control and subvert.

If we are to realise true gender equality, then as a society, we must challenge and denounce gender-based violence whenever it occurs.

This was on my mind as I attended the meeting of the Plaid Cymru National Executive Committee, the body elected by all members to represent the Party’s best interests, in mid-July. I was among those Plaid Cymru members who were of the view that former Plaid MP Jonathan Edwards should not be allowed to re-join the Plaid Cymru Group in Westminster.

The MP accepted a police caution for common assault following an incident at his home in May 2020 and his Plaid Cymru membership (both as an ordinary member and as a member of the Plaid Cymru Group of MPs) was suspended.

On July 16, the NEC noted that the party’s internal independent disciplinary process had come to the conclusion that Jonathan Edwards should be allowed to resume his membership, following an application from him.

The NEC however wanted to make a distinction between Jonathan Edwards’ return as an ordinary, individual member and his role as a senior elected Member of Parliament with access to the national platform awarded to him through the Westminster benches.

Since the July NEC meeting, it has become apparent that our party’s disciplinary procedures do not sufficiently differentiate between ordinary members and members who have been elected to positions of influence and so Jonathan Edwards can automatically resume his title of Plaid MP following the panel’s announcement.

That is the constitutional situation which has to be accepted, but my view has not changed.

Conversation

I believe that as elected politicians of Plaid Cymru, we are extremely privileged to represent our constituents and we must strive to adhere to the core principles of the party in whose name we were elected. Ending gender violence as an essential step towards ending gender inequality is part of Plaid’s vision and ambition and has been eloquently expressed by senior members over many years.

None of us, as elected politicians, are indispensable. Of course, as individuals we can be forgiven for our mistakes but as senior elected members, we are ambassadors for our party on the national and international stage.

If an elected politician has severely damaged the integrity, the credibility and the reputation of our party by contravening one of its core values, then that person should no longer represent the collective, democratic voice of our members.

So now as a party, we must review our standing orders to reflect the views of our democratically elected body in the future. We must also build upon recommendations I made in a report before the pandemic to tackle misogyny within our party.

This should include mandatory training underlining the incredibly serious nature of domestic violence, its impact on women and children and its political significance as part of the persistent fight to end gender inequality in Wales. We must also take further steps to ensure that women’s voices are equally represented in all parts of our party, ensuring that tackling gender inequality including gender based violence is embedded in everything we do.

The Party Leader recently launched the most wide ranging consultation in Plaid Cymru’s history, seeking the ideas of all Party members as to how we design a fairer, more inclusive and thriving party.

As we embark on a period of renewal – in the form of a new political strategy and corporate plan as a result of this wide ranging conversation on the party’s future – I am confident that addressing these issues will be at the heart of our work going forward.


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Carol Ann Hayes
Carol Ann Hayes
1 month ago

Diawledig ei fod yn ôl fel Aelod Seneddol. Hollol, hollol annerbyniol. Mae gennyf gywilydd bod yn aelod o Blaid Cymru.

Cathy Jones
Cathy Jones
1 month ago

I’m cancelling my Plaid membership.

Richard
Richard
1 month ago
Reply to  Cathy Jones

And how is this going to help Cathy ?

i wonder if JEs’ wife has 😶..,.?

I can think of a number of reasons for no longer being a member but perhaps this is a primarly family healing procces and is their business.

One of the two witnesses
One of the two witnesses
1 month ago
Reply to  Richard

Way to enable the assault and abuse of women Richard. Plaid made the wrong decision in enabling this rotten man back into their ranks and SHOULD face the consequences of welcoming such a creep back into their fold. Saying that the man’s violence is now “a family healing process and is their business” devalues his victim and excuses his behaviour (which WILL explode into violence again). Sorry but were I a member of any political party (I’m not) I too would be withdrawing my membership over this kind of nonsense. In fact it goes some way to explaining why I… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by One of the two witnesses
Richard
Richard
1 month ago

I dont usualy reply to those who use non de plumbs ( if i have spelt this wrong -? Sorry ) but you do make a very valid contribution of thought and thanks.. The key person of course IS the victim aa you say and their thoughts and interests MUST be first at all times. I do however have no evidence that JE is a ‘ creep ‘ or if he ‘ explodes ‘ occasionaly or regularlly. We in Wales have good and less good traits – but forgiveness by the injured party counts number 1 with me….genuine and demonstrsted… Read more »

One of the two witnesses
One of the two witnesses
1 month ago
Reply to  Richard

Yes a couple of people get pompous about Noms de Plume, like using their real name on an anonymous message board is somehow a virtue. It’s irrelevant chaff. I don’t know his life history. I know he hit his wife. I know he got back in on a technicality. I know he did not have the personal honour to resign following his foul action. This indicates a man who does not accept he did anything wrong. I need know no more. He may proceed with his private life, but he has failed in his public duty. He is not a… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by One of the two witnesses
Wil Jones
Wil Jones
1 month ago

Practically all your statements are incorrect!

Richard
Richard
1 month ago

I think all abuse is wrong and needs to be outed – no buts from
me – and yes it seems to appear in all parties – i gueas reflecting society. However it at least is ‘ outed ‘ now for all to see and both reflect and act on.

Society though is both judged on its tolerance and its compasion fir the wronged and wrong doer.

Yvonne
Yvonne
1 month ago
Reply to  Richard

forgiveness of the injured party? there is a good post on the BBC news about this today. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-politics-62507593

Gwenllian
Gwenllian
1 month ago

I agree.

And when you factor in their support for Trans activism, which is a deeply disturbing offensive form of misogyny which seeks to erase women in life and in law, it becomes clear that Plaid Cymru offers nothing for human adult females.

Richard
Richard
1 month ago
Reply to  Gwenllian

Wow thats a generalisation Gwenllian 🥺

Many reasons not to support Welsh self determination for sure
– but thats a new one !

Wil Jones
Wil Jones
1 month ago
Reply to  Cathy Jones

Diolch Sian!

Ceramike
Ceramike
1 month ago

The readmittance of Mr Edwards into Plaid as an MP, sends a bad message.
There is the implication that his behaviour is acceptable within the Party, that is wholly unacceptable to many of those who support them and should be to all.
It brings Plaid into disrepute, suggesting that its so called principles are easily set aside.
The party desperately needs to look at this decision again if it wishes to retain credibility.

One of the two witnesses
One of the two witnesses
1 month ago
Reply to  Ceramike

Certainly my opinion of Plaid has plummeted because of this. Luckily for them they have MPs like LSR to keep me hanging on until they make better decisions on this (and other) shameful episodes.

Gill
Gill
1 month ago

What happened to forgiveness? JE was cautioned, apologised, punished, suspended from his party and forgiven by his spouse. ” Spent the time ” We don’t know the full details of the actual incident do we? Bethan Sayed, drunk driving a car, could have killed somebody; Speedy Gonzalez the Health Minister, could have killed somebody. Jonathon Edwards is widely regarded and respected in his constituency ACROSS all walks of life and by supporters of many parties. He is the only hope Plaid has of keeping Dinefwr /East Carms. Adam Price is invisible and holds no credibility in this part of the… Read more »

One of the two witnesses
One of the two witnesses
1 month ago
Reply to  Gill

Many assaulted spouses “forgive” their violent partners. In more than half these cases, they forgive them several times more too. In a fraction of these they forgive them right up to their deaths. Sounds a hysterical overreaction. But factually correct as can be easily confirmed using Google. A truly repentant man would stand down as MP. Contrition for the cameras only. That you think this wife beater is Plaid’s “only hope” of holding Dinefwr betrays to me that you don’t think spousal abuse is a crime worth caring about. That you then go on the attack against (tellingly) a female… Read more »

Richard
Richard
1 month ago

Forgivness can only come from the victim – not from those who stand holding the coats of those who cast stones.

Gill
Gill
1 month ago

I am a woman who has considered the circumstances, have forgiven and respect JE for his tireless work for his community. He is a man of integrity and majority of his constituents think so too. . How many of you witchfinders General actually know him or the exact circumstances? .

NOT Grayham Jones
NOT Grayham Jones
1 month ago

This is an excellent article by Sian Gwenllian who talks a lot of sense. I fully respect her for this. I do however have to ask how she can continue as Communications Director on the Plaid Cymru National Executive Committee
following this purvese decision which she totally is against.

One of the two witnesses
One of the two witnesses
1 month ago

Change from within is more effective than shouting from without.
I find myself wondering if yours are crocodile tears. Fake outrage over an actual physical assault to try and damage Plaid Cymru.
Because it would be despicable to use an assault victim’s suffering for your own political ends

NOT Grayham Jones
NOT Grayham Jones
1 month ago

No its certainly not crocodile tears i can assure you. I have worked with lots of domestic abuse victims and can concur with other comments you have made re abusers pleading for another chance repeatedly after each attack and how the victims accept such pleas repeatedly.I admit im not a fan of Plaid but i would be shouting out no matter what party the MP was from. This goes beoynd party politics – as you say women are being murdered by abusers so all parties need to be firm when dealing with one of their own.

CapM
CapM
1 month ago

It’s not a decision but the implementation of existing rules.
A ‘technicality’ as has been said.
Rules can be changed so in future such outcomes do not occur.

One of the two witnesses says “A truly repentant man would stand down as MP.” This is a Catch 22 situation as a truly repentant man who stood down is probably the sort of man that would make a decent MP!

Who has the necessary info and insight to make a sound judgement on repentant /not repentant? Probably not the vast majority of the electorate.

hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago

Is this an indication that Plaid can only forgive certain types of crime ? Or do they have a league table of offences that enables a man dressed as a woman to enter female only spaces but sanctions rightly a man who beats his wife ? Their recent performances suggests that as far as the Bay regime is concerned Plaid may be nearing the end of its useful life and dreams of ever surpassing the SNP will never come true.

Sorgina
Sorgina
1 month ago

As a member of Plaid who has repeatedly experienced misogyny within the party, to the extent that I am no longer willing to be active at branch level, the decision does not surprise me one bit.
As a woman who has experienced physical abuse from a male partner, I find the decision deeply offensive

Glen
Glen
1 month ago

Remind me again what Neil McAvoy was permanently expelled for.

Robert Griffiths
Robert Griffiths
1 month ago

Plaid, Llafur neu Ceidwadwr, beth bynnag, mae pawb yn haeddu ail gyfle. Symud ymlaen. //Regardless if he’s Plaid, Labour or Conservative, everyone deserves a second chance in my opinion. Let’s all move on.

Woke Mind Virus
Woke Mind Virus
1 month ago

Hyd yn oed Rob Roberts, Delyn.

hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago

Now that’s a cat who’s used up several multiples of 9 lives !

Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
1 month ago

Once again Plaid have somehow contrived to make a real and very public dog’s dinner out of an internal disciplinary matter. I absolutely believe in the concept of rehabilitation and second chances for people and think we should take cognisance of jonathan edwards’ clearly genuine statements of remorse on this matter. That said i think it would now be best all round if plaid and jonathan issue a statement that he will not contest the constituency for the party at the next general election.

Last edited 1 month ago by Leigh Richards
Gary H
Gary H
1 month ago
Reply to  Leigh Richards

We all make bad mistakes and we have to live with them. If you hit the boss in an argument at work, you’ll get sacked. Steal the profits, you get sacked. What’s the difference here? I very much feel for JE, but I can’t really see how he can honorably hope to stand for Plaid again, nor should Plaid adopt him. Do the Profumo thing, JE, move on and use your political experience in public good works, but don’t endanger your party’s chances of holding your seat. Wales’ future is unfortunately for JE so much more important than a probably… Read more »

Richard
Richard
1 month ago
Reply to  Leigh Richards

Leigh. As will most though not quite all things you add to your posts – I agree with your direction of 💭 thought and the manner and style you articulate….courteous and succinct.. . I am at a loss though to see any relevance on whether JE contests or doesn’t contest his own patch. this is a moral or indeed ethical matter concerning his immediate family and their views, his remorse and his contrition – not a political or party issue. MPs and MSs stand or fall in most cases by a range performance indicators for their voting public to observe,… Read more »

hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago
Reply to  Leigh Richards

Picture is further complicated by a disclosure from Mrs Edwards ( soon to be ex ) that she was persuaded by a Plaid P.R officer (?) to make that conciliatory statement in an attempt to close the matter back in 2020. Now it seems that it was secured under duress. Whether that was the case or not it would be worth knowing whether such a P.R. Officer acted in an official capacity, and where does that role sit in the Plaid organisation given that our author Sian Gwenllian is Communications Director and may indeed be functionally responsible for said P.R… Read more »

NOT Grayham Jones
NOT Grayham Jones
1 month ago

I see this whole grubby story has taken on an even worse side for the men in grey suits of Plaid. ( Note its is MEN who basically run the show and pull the strings here ) The soon to be Ex Mrs Edwards says she is “appalled and disappointed” that Plaid Cymru has reinstated him as an MP for the party. She said the statement issued at the time, which said she accepted her husband’s apology, was “drafted for me by Jonathan’s press officer at the time and I was told that it would be the best way to… Read more »

Dafydd Thomas
Dafydd Thomas
1 month ago

So Ms Gwenllian writes a 500 word op-ed piece basically telling us she voted to accept Jonathan Edwards back into party membership! She doesn’t say that directly, of course. After all, she is her party’s senior communications person and as such has a way with words. But the fact remains – despite hating gender based violence with all her heart, she voted to renew Edwards’s membership. That’s the convicted domestic abuser Edwards, just in case there was any doubt about who she voted for. Clearly, Plaid Cymru are preparing for a snap General Election. Up on Anglesey, they’re trying to… Read more »

Richard
Richard
1 month ago
Reply to  Dafydd Thomas

Isnt the role of MPs to
speak up for those on
their patch ? ALL not
just their own party
folk.

JE will be judged by
his local residents NOT
those with other motives

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago

Racism and misogyny doing well in Welsh local and national government…

Iwan Bala
1 month ago

Waw Sian.. da iawn ti!

Yvonne
Yvonne
1 month ago

I have supported Plaid for decades, but I am done and will not vote for the party again unless Jonathan Edwards resigns

It’s offensive to domestic abuse survivors everywhere, and especially his wife, that he is still in this positiion of power

He should be ashamed of himself and step down

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