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Opinion

‘Plaid Cymru has had a sexual harassment problem for years – I observed it directly’

09 May 2023 5 minute read
Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price

Martin Shipton

Plaid Cymru has had a sexual harassment problem for many years. In stating that, I’m not relying on the testimony of others.

I observed an outrageous example of it with my own eyes and ears as long ago as in 2007, when a male Plaid Cymru Assembly Member sexually harassed a female member of the party’s staff in a crowded venue that was open to the public.

I was appalled by the AM’s behaviour and knew immediately how hurtful and humiliating it was for the staff member concerned.

Those who engage in such conduct invariably try to play it down by making out it was mere “banter”.

That’s not, of course, how the victims view it. And they’re right not to do so.

I wasn’t prepared to let the incident pass and reported it to a senior Plaid Cymru official.

I was later told that the matter had been investigated and that the AM concerned had been issued with what amounted to a final warning.

I hope that happened, although I have to say that the disgraceful incident didn’t blight the politician’s career.

A few days ago we learned the result of an inquiry into sexual harassment and bullying within Plaid Cymru undertaken by former AM Nerys Evans, herself a former party staff member.

The inquiry was commissioned following a number of complaints made by current and former staff members who spoke of a toxic culture within the party where people were suffering but in some cases were afraid to speak out.

Toxic culture

One former member of staff had gone public on Twitter to allege that he had been sexually assaulted by a senior party official outside a gay nightclub in Cardiff.

Ms Evans’ report confirmed that a toxic culture existed and was strongly critical of the party’s current leadership for allowing it to fester.

Some have been openly critical of party leader Adam Price.

The incident I witnessed 16 years ago occurred long before Mr Price became leader and it would be wrong to lay all the blame at his door.

But it is clear both from Ms Evans’ report and from speaking to Plaid politicians and employees that there is much unhappiness and concern.

Last week former Labour Cabinet Minister Ken Skates went so far as to say that the Welsh Government should end its cooperation agreement with Plaid Cymru because Plaid had become a tainted brand as a result of the allegations.

Mr Skates is not by nature a tribalistic politician – in fact as a Minister he had a reputation for being prepared to work with other parties.

For him to advocate an end to the cooperation agreement is an indication of how damaging Plaid’s internal troubles have become.

Calls have inevitably been made for Adam Price to resign. For many years he has been seen by a lot of Plaid Cymru supporters as the party’s greatest hope, a charismatic and highly intelligent advocate for Welsh independence leading the nation forward to freedom.

I first met him in the run-up to his becoming an MP for his home patch of Carmarthen East & Dinefwr in 2001. He quickly became a force to be reckoned with at Westminster, exposing how Tony Blair’s government had favoured the Indian steel magnate and Labour donor Lakshmi Mittal at the expense of the Welsh steel industry.

Later Mr Price was at the forefront of the campaign to impeach Prime Minister Blair over what he convincingly argued was the illegal invasion of Iraq.

Unusually for a politician he took a voluntary career break for six years, excelling as a student at Harvard University before being elected to the then National Assembly in 2016.

Plaid was drifting under its then leader Leanne Wood and two years later he defeated her in a leadership election.

He announced that Wales could be independent within around 10 years and suggested he could lead a minority administration after the 2021 election.

Covid sunk those plans by entrenching Mark Drakeford in power but there was a realistic chance that Mr Price could become Deputy First Minister if, as had been expected, Welsh Labour lost ground and needed a coalition partner.

But Labour did better than expected, ironically winning back Rhondda from Ms Wood, and was able to govern alone.

The cooperation agreement came into being, but Plaid has no Ministers and now rather uncomfortably straddles the dividing line between government and opposition.

It gives me no pleasure at all to say that in view of the state that Plaid Cymru finds itself in, it is time for Adam Price to step down.

He has suggested that walking away from responsibility would not be the right thing to do, but the sad thing is that he is part of the problem, not the solution.

Plaid Cymru needs to put its debilitating internal crisis behind it and look to a new generation for a leader untainted by scandal to take it forward.


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Dai Rob
Dai Rob
9 months ago

Anyone remember Priceys call for a Turnover tax on all business?
That’s probably the worst policy I have ever heard in my life…..would immediately put half of all small businesses out of business.
Crazy man, who obviously has little understanding of how business works, despite his economic background.
Has to go!!

wayne
wayne
9 months ago
Reply to  Dai Rob

Why did Carl Harris have a glowing testimonial from Wales on Line when he left PC another cover up by Adam Price? Or is there more to come out?

Last edited 9 months ago by wayne
G Horton-Jones
G Horton-Jones
9 months ago

We have just witnessed the last hurrah of the Raj
.
Time for Plaid to move on as well..

hdavies15
hdavies15
9 months ago

At the moment this situation seems utterly “no win” whether Adam stays or resigns. I’m not sure he can sort out the Party’s problem anyway, but there again can anyone else ? Some kind of resolution needs to be delivered as this issue will be used by other parties despite their own shortcomings.

Is bullying, misogyny, misandry, and other deviant behaviours part of a endemic malaise within politics and organisational life in general ?

hdavies15
hdavies15
9 months ago
Reply to  hdavies15

Just as a P.S – Martin, having witnessed unacceptable behaviour by an A.M why did it not become the subject of an article way back then? In the article above you say that : “I was later told that the matter had been investigated and that the AM concerned had been issued with what amounted to a final warning. I hope that happened, although I have to say that the disgraceful incident didn’t blight the politician’s career.” Somewhere along the line it might have occurred to you that the process had been defective or non existent and that thought could… Read more »

MandiA
MandiA
9 months ago
Reply to  hdavies15

Good man hd, if Mr Shipton has something to say, let him go away and write a book that we can choose to read or not rather than hijacking this site under the guise of editorship.

Jon_S
Jon_S
9 months ago
Reply to  hdavies15

Is bullying, misogyny, misandry, and other deviant behaviours part of a endemic malaise within politics and organisational life in general ?”

In some organisations it is worse than others, mostly low-level stuff which is bad enough, but I’ve never in 30 odd years of corporate (private business) life witnessed anything on the scale of the reports coming out of Plaid, S4C and the WRU.

hdavies15
hdavies15
9 months ago
Reply to  Jon_S

Is it a coincidence that those organisations don’t really run like a real business although perhaps they should be more businesslike ? I suspect all 3 contain people at fairly senior levels with lots of idle time, people who’s justification for being there is vague so they resort to flexing their status muscles in various ways, all to the detriment of others and the broader corporate health.

Cat
Cat
9 months ago

I’m not sure that Adam Price resigning will make a difference Martin. This behaviour is in local parties as well. Who will tackle that?

wayne
wayne
9 months ago
Reply to  Cat

Yes this behaviour is endemic in PC Branches and Constituency Committees.

Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
9 months ago

Firstly i’d like to say well done to Martin on reporting the Plaid Senedd member he saw sexually harrassing a female Plaid staff member, but its extremely disappointing to hear this appalling behaviour didnt seem to affect the perpetrator’s standing in the party. Such a person has no place in Plaid Cymru and even all these years on i urge Martin to publicly name the plaid figure he complained about.

Secondly it’s becoming increasingly clear that as a party plaid have sadly gone backwards since Leanne Wood was deposed as leader in a brutal coup instigated by Adam’s supporters.

Dr John Ball
Dr John Ball
9 months ago
Reply to  Leigh Richards

Leigh. The party was already going backwards under Leanne, all Price has done is put his foot on the throttle.
Your comment on a “brutal coup” is simply not the case. A democratic election was held with all paid up members invited to vote. The result that reduced Leeanne to an humiliating third place clearly showed what the party members thought, not a coup by any measure.

Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
9 months ago
Reply to  Dr John Ball

With respect to you John you werent there – i was, and trust me a brutal coup (engineered by adam’s supporters) is what took place. And nothing that’s happened in the last 5 years changes my view that Plaid’s fortunes have receded since Leanne was deposed.

Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
9 months ago
Reply to  Dr John Ball

With respect to you John you werent there – i was, and trust me a brutal coup (engineered by adam’s supporters) is what took place. And nothing that’s happened in the last 5 years changes my view that Plaid’s fortunes have receded since Leanne was deposed.

DThomas
DThomas
9 months ago
Reply to  Leigh Richards

What happened in Llanelli under LW’s leadership was pretty brutal. Scores of members gone and the closure of an office which was a centre of activity.

Dai Rob
Dai Rob
9 months ago
Reply to  Leigh Richards

She was the worst leader EVER! Her poll numbers were dismal!!

Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
9 months ago
Reply to  Dai Rob

That’s strange Dai – i thought plaid gained seats at both westminster and the Senedd under leanne’s leadership.

hdavies15
hdavies15
9 months ago
Reply to  Leigh Richards

Much as I disagreed with some of her work Leanne showed far more sense of purpose than her successor who has indulged in waffle for much of his tenure. I probably disagreed more with her on ideas and some ideals but at least I knew what hers were.

Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
9 months ago
Reply to  hdavies15

Adam’s an exceptional orator, and im not sure plaid has ever properly used that skill he possesses. But afraid ive never seen him as the the kind of person suited to the day to day minutiae that being the leader of a party involves. I think events have proved me correct.

Dai Rob
Dai Rob
9 months ago
Reply to  Leigh Richards

He is good at giving a speech, yes I agree….but whenever he is Questioned…he falls to pieces…it’s painfull to watch.

Dai Rob
Dai Rob
9 months ago
Reply to  Leigh Richards

The number of seats may have gone up one, or whatever. That’s an irrelevance compared to the % vote across Wales going down. While the % vote goes down, Plaid just because more irrelevant. The % went down under her, in the Senedd & WM.
I dont know what the answer is, but Plaid have a desperate shortage of able people, so whoever is in charge, I can’t see the situation changing….at least for a fair number of years, sadly.

Glen
Glen
9 months ago
Reply to  Dai Rob

Plaid leaders have got progressively worse since they ditched Dafydd Wigley.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
9 months ago

I’m saddened that this has occurred in Plaid Cymru. You expect this sort of thing from the Conservative party not Plaid who actively support and in sone cases reward those who are accused of inappropriate behaviour. Rob Roberts and Nigel Evans come to mind. Both courted controversy and remain still n office., one even becoming a minister. The healing process must begin. Adam Price has done the right thing by apologising to those abused, but he himself must shoulder some of the blame. He also expel those responsible. Plaid are better than that. And if we want a new form… Read more »

wayne
wayne
9 months ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

If Adam Price expel those responsible, then there wouldn’t be much of PC management and Senior members of PC Branches. Look at the state of turmoil over the last 10 yrs in the LLanelli and Carmarthen East area. Can Adam Price expel himself?

Last edited 9 months ago by wayne
Riki
Riki
9 months ago

Well, if this is remotely true then you, Mr Price, have sat and done nothing for years. So I wonder, why do something now? Really does seem like you are trying to appease some people, To make it seem as though you are doing something.

Glen
Glen
9 months ago

Compare the way Plaid dealt with the trumped up, trivial complaints against Neil McEvoy to these far more serious accusations.

Why the difference?

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