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Opinion

Resignation will be the price to pay for this mess

07 May 2023 4 minute read
Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price

Theo Davies-Lewis

I hesitate to join the chorus crying for resignations. Policy mishap? Time to go. A comment out of step in a narrow public discourse? Pack your bags. We are too sensitive in politics to failure, a daily feature of all our lives we would prefer not admit, and expect shuffling deckchairs to bring a turnaround.

Besides, as loud as the screams from backbenchers may be, government ministers (or offending individual members of parliament) rarely go as they used to in that bygone yet elusive ‘honourable’ era.

Sacking is sometimes more effective than public or political trials. Well, unless you are the boss. Getting rid of leaders is notoriously difficult, since so few will give up power and the trappings that come with it: influence, affirmation, relevance.

In many instances politicians are too insular to be challenged regularly, instead relying on a narrow clique of advisers to deliver what they decree. What it takes to bring down these leaders, omnipresent and powerful in internal structures but weak when struck by moments of real crisis, is a Heseltinian figure. But the hand that wields the knife shall never wear the crown, and so on.

Which brings us to Adam Price. Once untouchable, now spent.

Revelations from a report into Plaid Cymru’s internal culture, finding that the party needed to “detoxify a culture of harassment, bullying and misogyny”, this week arrived at the door of a vulnerable leader. Price was of course quick to apologise on behalf of the leadership of the party and accept the startling number of 82 recommendations.

Comments by former Plaid AM, Bethan Sayed, during a television interview that Price “knew” of serious problems in the party since 2018 and waited for them “to pile up” only made matters more difficult for the leader after the report was published.

In the interviews Price has given we have not had the Mab Darogan, rather a man who sees his political obituary being written for him. The report has tarnished his party, Price admitted to the BBC this week, but said Plaid was a product of the society it was trying to change. A man of Price’s intellect knows that is not credible. Nor it appears is his resistance to resign.

Risks

Nationalists will at least thank King Charles: the focus will be elsewhere this weekend. The party’s members of the Senedd are the only ones who can truly move this sorry episode on, but they have been unwilling to act.

They know that there is no obvious successor, and that ditching Price comes with its own risks; what if he fights on in a leadership challenge, for example? He would surely not be so bullish or foolish to do so.

As I wrote for Nation some weeks ago, cults of personality in the nationalist movement always end in tears.

For many, this damning report may indeed be the last straw amid a range of issues – including the saga involving Jonathan Edwards, electoral disappointments and a lack of clear strategic direction.

The saving grace of a political legacy for Price may be the Co-Operation Agreement with Welsh Labour, which has put Plaid’s imprint on government policy. But relations appear strained, with Jane Hutt drafted in by the First Minister (before the Plaid report was published) as Chief Whip to try and deliver on key issues such as Senedd reform.

Now, after recent events, figures such as former Economy Minister Ken Skates want the whole deal scrapped between ministers and Plaid.

Drama

Mark Drakeford could sink Price if he chose to call off the agreement. The drama is almost Shakespearian, dampened only by a simple realisation that both men need each other.

In Drakeford’s case, Plaid Cymru are guarantors for delivery. For Price, a continuation of the agreement carves out a narrow path to political capital and provides purpose at least until the next general election.

How far Welsh politics travels in five years. Price’s vulnerability is a far cry from his assured hostile takeover from Leanne Wood, which seemed to herald in at least a decade of control.

Back then, Price was ruthless to take a position that was his dream. Members of his own party would do well to remember that. And so, too, they should recall Aristotle’s conclusion that satisfactory endings are surprising yet inevitable.

For Adam Price, it’s starting to feel like both.


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Dai Rob
Dai Rob
9 months ago

Very ineffectual leader….virtually invisible.
Only thing in his favour is that Plaid have such poor personel, there seems no successor to him!

Andy Williams
9 months ago
Reply to  Dai Rob

You’ve hit the nail on the head. A sad situation. Why? Welsh Labour have been in power too long, I won’t even mention Andrew RT Davies and his so called “Welsh Tories”. Therefore who do we vote for? Plaid? I don’t think so.

wayne
wayne
9 months ago
Reply to  Andy Williams

Plaid Cymru 97 yrs and failed. Time for PC to fold before it implodes. Time for Change time for Gwlad.

Andy Williams
9 months ago
Reply to  wayne

Thank you for the reply, I’ll take a look at Gwlad

Ernie The Smallholder
Ernie The Smallholder
9 months ago
Reply to  wayne

Changing the party for a new party with no record of wining seats in the Senedd will take a long time. Look how long it has taken the Liberal democrats in England – events there are turning with a an extremist Tory party and a non-inspiring labour party. It has crossed my thoughts should Plaid Cymru membership on mass join the Welsh Liberal democrats to become a block of ‘Liberals for an independent Wales’ – there the least we will expect is STV and a federalised Britain & Europe. But that will mean giving up independence for now and leaving… Read more »

Johnny Gamble
Johnny Gamble
9 months ago

A very well written reply Ernie,Yes Gwlad to date have only one elected councillor in Ceredigion but this is a party that was only formed in 2017 whereas PC have been around for almost a Century and still struggle to get 90% of The Welsh vote. Change from within in principle is the right idea but look what has happened in The Labour Party with the expulsion of The Momentum Group and with Labour going back to The Blair Days there’s hardly a bus ticket between Labour and Conservatives these days.In a nutshell Change from within is impossible. You are… Read more »

Ernie The Smallholder
Ernie The Smallholder
9 months ago
Reply to  Johnny Gamble

It is possible to change Plaid Cymru into a winning machine even after 90 years. We need party reform into a more federal structure with an independent accountability structure. As I said we can learn from the LD. As the liberals were out of power for 100 years until 2010 in the coalition when they took the blame for the Cons’ failure. They almost lost their party because of the coalition years but they have recovered back to 20% of the vote, because there are the only large party in England that has a progressive vision. We, in Plaid C… Read more »

Andy Williams
9 months ago

He needs to go now.

Iago Prydderch
Iago Prydderch
9 months ago

Politicians within parties know what is going on inside their party but choose to keep quiet until it’s useful to topple the leader. Politics is a dirty game. Journalists should be asking these politicians why did they keep quiet in the interests of their own ambitions. Adam Price is a weak leader and now his time is up. What better way to get Delyth Jewell elected leader to clean up the party from the toxic culture of bullying. Why is she so quiet or is she getting ready to be crowned the next PC queen!

Last edited 9 months ago by Iago Prydderch
max wallis
max wallis
9 months ago

Adam can never be forgiven for throwing Helen Mary Jones (then AM) to the transfanatical twitter dogs headed by Owen Hurcum, late unlamented “non-binary” mayor of Bangor – Plaid member for purposes of personal advancement. While other principled gays including founder members of Stonewall broke with the trans-takeover, Adam has the intellect but not the courage and continues to parrot the Labour WGovt mantra “we believe transwomen are women, non-binary identities are valid”.

A.Redman
A.Redman
9 months ago

When Adam Price was asked if he could not call to account the Plaid Leader of his local County Council for wilfully misleading the executive and council members, he responded that he could not be seen to influence Council matters. Is that going to be his response to this damning report apart from a perfunctory apology? The Plaid “coalition” with the Labour government is not a “marriage made in heaven”and this report will create more division.

CJPh
CJPh
9 months ago

Rather than take this as a death knell, this should be Adam Price’s wake-up call. Stop pressing snooze and rolling over. Think Cymru, not this corporate co-operative party politics nonsense. Directly attack those who attack you (rightfully) as enemies of a free Wales, as liars when they lie, as wreckers and malcontents that just want to see power prevail. Drop “Progressive”, “Radical”, “Equity”, and all other student-politics words, not because I personally don’t like these as guiding principles, but they demonstrably turn potential voters right off and make Plaid look incompetent and Adam Price unwilling to lead. Labour can afford… Read more »

Last edited 9 months ago by CJPh
Che Guevara's Fist
Che Guevara's Fist
9 months ago
Reply to  CJPh

Arbeit Macht Frei.

Have I spelt that right?

CJPh
CJPh
9 months ago

Uh oh, another slip into antisemitism from the Left’s more delusion-loving fringe. Becoming a pattern in recent years. What was the Cuban equivalent again? You know, the one inspired by your hero? Ah, it was “Work will make you a man”, a rather less jokey but still very malevolent message above the concentration camp at Guanahacabibes, the one Che helped found due to his deep hatred of gay people, among others. What was it he said about any number of persecuted minorities in his writings? “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”. Thankfully, Cymru doesn’t like… Read more »

Last edited 9 months ago by CJPh
Cat
Cat
9 months ago

I’m not sure Adam Price can deal with this. It would mean taking out some of his key members whose behaviour is all over this report.

Hayden Williams
Hayden Williams
9 months ago
Reply to  Cat

I agree. That’s the problem, isn’t it? He can’t clean up the party culture as he should because then Plaid would lack the numbers/depth. People are so outright abusive toward politicians now, it’s hard to get good people to stand.

CJPh
CJPh
9 months ago

One of the major issues is that Plaid have allowed themselves to become a British political party. Independence for Cymru was the motivator for the founding of the party, now it’s a secondary issue – “I want to see x policy… And indy would be nice” instead of “let’s gain our independence, then advocate for x policy” as the founding members intended. YesCymru, and whichever future organisations emerge, have taken that mantle. This leaves Plaid aping the SNP and their thusfar failed model for independence. If there is another way, it’d be someone like Adam Price who could aid in… Read more »

Kerry Davies
Kerry Davies
9 months ago

I suggest the writer first reads How Westminster Works… and Why It Doesn’t by Ian Dunt. It won’t take him long to understand that the report into Plaid is a paragon of open-ness, transparency and honesty in comparison to what is seen as normal in the Palace of Westminster.
The ineptitude, childishness and bullying that is all part of standard and traditional parliamentary procedure is so hard-wired into the mechanisms of government up there they make the blatant corruption understandable.

Mr Williams
Mr Williams
9 months ago

I really liked Leanne Wood. I thought she was a strong and highly principled leader.

Such a shame they turned on her. I have never understood why they did so.

wayne
wayne
9 months ago
Reply to  Mr Williams

Leanne Wood was a Labourist in sheeps Clothing

max wallis
max wallis
9 months ago
Reply to  Mr Williams

She was taken in by the trans-equality notion, lacking the intellect to see the contradiction with women’s rights. Anne and others took on Leanne’s article called “Inclusive Feminism” but unable to argue back, Leanne went for Stonewall’s prescription (don’t debate) and harass opponents.

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