Only an unprecedented grassroots campaign will deliver victory for Plaid Cymru
Angus Robertson, Former Depute Leader of the Scottish National Party
Shortly after his election as the new Leader of Plaid Cymru – The Party of Wales, Adam Price commissioned me to conduct a root and branch review of the party’s campaign machinery.
The work, which began last autumn and concluded in January, was designed to look at the party’s structures, operations, capacity and the ability to secure a victory for Plaid Cymru in every corner of the country and in every level of election.
The review was to be quick, wide and unrestricted review based on interviews with, and feedback from Plaid Cymru elected members, party members and staff. I was also asked to recommend a broad range of proposals for Plaid Cymru to consider and implement with a view to securing a step change in electoral support and returning a Plaid Cymru government in Wales.
The report is now completed and shared with the party’s elected members and National Executive Committee. A summary of my findings has also been shared with the membership.
My report focuses on five key themes:
- The need for a sense of mission and purpose
- The recognition of the fierce urgency of now
- Maintaining and building momentum
- Instilling local and national leadership
- Grassroots activity
The clearly stated aim of victory, winning a majority at the next Welsh elections, is hugely challenging in any circumstances, especially when a political party has never won a national election. Why should voters believe Plaid Cymru is serious, if members don’t believe it themselves? Ironically, some of the biggest challenges now are internal – when people have genuinely tried to win before, have innovated, followed all the advice but without ultimate success.
However, discussion and planning at a national level has already begun. Serious work is underway to plan out the different preparations for victory and beyond. For example, what will happen in the first 100 days of the next Plaid Cymru government? It’s both exciting and daunting!
The amount of work needed to prepare and deliver Plaid’s victorious campaign depends on the ‘Fierce Urgency of Now’. There is no time to waste. There are fewer than 800 days until the next Welsh General Election on 6 May 2021. If all candidates and members share the sense of mission and purpose towards a Plaid Cymru victory – as well as the fierce urgency of now – Plaid is on the launchpad to success.
The election of Adam Price as the new leader is a new chapter for the party which has been welcomed by more than 3,000 people motivated enough to join the party. Recruitment is continuing and Adam Price is already touring the country.
This is positive momentum, and as all political practitioners know: momentum is key. Activating those new and existing members to campaign as never before, will bring new members and new voters across Wales. This will require inspiring campaign leadership at a national and local level.
The good news is that Plaid has the most favourably polled Leader in Wales and England. Just six months into his leadership, Adam is viewed more favourably than Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn and the First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford.
People who already know Adam like him, and I am confident that he will make a strong and positive impression on those who are getting to know him now. The job of Plaid is to increase his profile across the country.
The national leadership of Plaid Cymru, including the Leader, the National Executive Committee, and the political groups within the Assembly and Westminster have a huge responsibility to inspire and drive the 2021 campaign together with local candidates, councillors, office-bearers and members.
This shared mission is not a top-down or bottom-up process: everybody has a huge role to play. That will be internally focussed in the early Foundation Phase of the campaign – but must become outwardly-oriented as soon as possible to communicate effectively with voters and the public at large.
It must be the biggest and best Plaid Cymru campaign ever.
A Plaid election victory will only be delivered with an unprecedented grassroots campaign.
Thousands of new members must join thousands of long-standing members in communicating to voters in all parts of Wales that what Wales needs is a Plaid Cymru victory.
Plaid Can Win. Wales Can Win.
I am hugely indebted to everyone who has contributed to my work, and to Adam Price for allowing me to play a part in creating the election-winning machine Plaid Cymru will soon become.
I will be heading to Bangor this weekend to give the fraternal address on behalf of the SNP where I also hope to share some more insights on my report. If you’re at the conference, be sure to come along!
It should be hugely encouraging to everyone in Plaid Cymru that there is a keen willingness, energy and enthusiasm amongst members and supporters to win.
This is underlined by the hundreds who took part in my review and the thousands of people who joined the party immediately following Adam’s election.
No one has suggested that this will be easy, nor that there are any short cuts, but there have been common themes which could and should lead to a step change in support.
Plaid Cymru wants to win. Plaid Cymru believes it can win. And with the party already on its journey towards success, there is no doubt in my mind that in two years time Plaid Cymru will win a new Wales.
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