The key to our success is unity
Adam Price AM, Leader of Plaid Cymru
Since I was elected leader of Plaid Cymru, our party has focused on one overriding objective: becoming the next Welsh Government.
This is an urgent necessity, not for the sake of power, but for the sake of Wales. Our democracy will be in question if, after more than twenty years of mostly one-party government, political change is as distant as ever.
Our economy is crying out for change. Under Labour, we have seen our wealth relative to the rest of the UK flat-lining. We desperately need to close the Welsh prosperity gap if we are to lift the many thousands of our children and their families out of poverty.
We need a Plaid Cymru government as an essential first step on the path towards independence.
There are reasons to be hopeful. Our party, and the wider movement, are moving forward.
Our membership is higher than it has been for fifteen years. We have won a succession of local by-elections. We are riding high in the opinion polls, and in May’s European elections we surged ahead of Labour in a national election for the first time in our history.
We are ready to lead our country through the Brexit rapids that lie between now and the 2021 Senedd election. We are heading in the right direction and we are riding a wave of growing support.
But to realise the dream that is now very firmly within our grasp – to fulfil our goal of forming the next government so that we can transform our nation – our party must be united and disciplined.
A modern party for a modern Wales
Creating a successful national movement means being a movement for everyone in Wales.
As the organisers of this weekend’s independence rally in Caernarfon, AUOB Cymru, have said: “Everyone who wants to be part of a new Wales is welcome. There’s no place for racism, sexism, bigotry or discrimination of any type in the independence movement.”
The regrettable reality is that we live in a time where vitriol and bile are the backdrop to politics globally.
It is women, and younger women in politics in particular, who are targeted. Just look at Donald Trump’s abhorrent attacks at the four radical, Black and Hispanic women members of Congress, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib.
It is no accident, either, that it was Luciana Berger who was so often on the receiving end of anti-Semitic abuse from within and outside the Labour party.
We have to be honest that Wales, and indeed even our national movement, are not insulated from this global wave of prejudice, intolerance and misogyny.
Plaid Cymru is a family and we can all be proud of our history of radical politics and treating each other with respect. I have experienced that personally as our party’s first gay leader.
The kind of abuse that I have seen aimed at women in our party recently by a small but vocal minority is not consistent with the principles of Plaid Cymru or, for that matter, the values espoused by the vast majority in the wider movement.
I have been horrified by what I have seen and, as leader, I want to be clear that I will not tolerate it.
That is why I have asked Siân Gwenllian AM, as our elected Director of Equalities, to conduct a review of the experiences of women and other under-represented groups.
Siân will assess the extent to which outdated prejudices are deterring women and others from engaging or advancing in our party.
Siân will make recommendations to me and the National Executive Committee on what we can do to make Plaid Cymru a safer and more inclusive space for all women – as well as BAME people, LGBT+ people, disabled people, and everyone who wants to play their part in building a new Wales.
The integrity of our party’s democracy
As my predecessor also made clear, I have been consistent that as leader of the whole of Plaid Cymru, I would never and will never involve myself in individual disciplinary cases, internal elections, or selection processes.
But as leader, I have a responsibility to protect the integrity of our party’s democracy. And unfortunately, I have seen reports of a concerted attempt by some non-members of Plaid Cymru to intervene in our democracy.
Such intervention, according to these reports, takes the form of a coordinated effort to suborn our internal elections to the National Executive Committee, due to take place at our annual party conference in the autumn.
These efforts – from outwith our membership – achieve nothing but the stoking of factionalism and division inside our party. They could also be fatal to our mission to form our country’s next government.
Such efforts are never acceptable – in any political party. And as leader, I cannot and will not allow that to happen.
My personal appeal to all members of Plaid Cymru and all those involved in the national movement who share my vision of victory in 2021: let us reject this attempt to divide us.
Let us not be distracted. Let us keep our focus on the work we have ahead of us to share our party’s ambition with people across Wales. And let us keep working towards forming our nation’s first modern pro-independence government in 2021.
The role of proper processes and structures
As well as nurturing a positive political culture, we need to make sure, as we aim for 2021 and beyond, that our party has the best processes and structures in place to maintain our unity.
Indeed, every organisation needs to continually review the way that it works, to keep pace with best practice across the world. Plaid Cymru is no different.
That is why I, along with our National Executive Committee, have asked our party’s former long-serving Westminster leader and, now, our Shadow Counsel General Elfyn Llwyd to conduct a wide-ranging review of our internal conduct and discipline procedures.
Aside from his experience of being a Plaid Cymru MP, Elfyn is also an esteemed barrister, and I look forward to him reporting back to me and the NEC with his recommendations by next spring.
United We Stand
Our party is in a strong position as we look ahead to 2021. The momentum is with us – and we have to keep our eyes on the ultimate prize of a Plaid Cymru government which will transform our nation for the better.
Divide et impera – divide and rule – was always the tactic employed to prevent Wales achieving its true potential. Let’s not fall into that all-too familiar trap.
Let’s be united. Let’s be disciplined. If we do, if we are , we will win.