This Plaid Cymru leadership election has come at the right time
Jonathan Edwards, Plaid Cymru MP for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr
As I write this article it has been confirmed that there will be an election for the leadership of Plaid Cymru – The Party of Wales.
I am someone who endeavours to avoid internal politics like the plague. However, I genuinely welcome the fact that we as members of Plaid Cymru will now have the opportunity to discuss and debate the challenges we face as a party, but far more importantly, as a country.
The EU Referendum has heralded a new political age – shattering the devolution era consensus of 1997-2016.
Then the direction of political travel was crystal clear: powers would move from Westminster back to where they belong, here in our own country. The debate in effect centred on the speed of progress.
The situation has now changed dramatically with Welsh democracy under direct threat from an emboldened Westminster supported by a supine and spineless Labour government.
They have decided to bend the knee to our imperial masters as opposed to defending Welsh interests at all costs.
All the hard-won gains of our forbearers are under threat and we should not underestimate that this is a point of national crisis in the history of Wales.
If Plaid Cymru does not focus all its energies into defending Wales at this point, the question is who will?
If Plaid Cymru is to prosper politically in the new post-Brexit political landscape the party is going to have to prepare and articulate a vision of where we locate Wales in the new environment.
Our position is that the key aim should be protecting jobs and living standards in our country by maintaining European economic frameworks.
This is supported by the British Government’s own economic analysis and this week’s IPPR report which indicates that Wales will be hardest hit by Brexit.
I have also publicly declared support for a people’s vote on the final deal so people can make an informed decision.
Our unionist political opponents in the Labour and Tory parties have already shown their hand. Their intention is that Wales will once again be subsumed under increasingly direct Westminster control.
I hope a key element of the leadership campaign will concentrate on how we meet these challenges as a party and as a country.
During my conference speech in Llangollen I outlined some options for consideration.
We are three years away from a Welsh General Election and four from the next Westminster election (although due to the volatile situation in London that could come at any time).
This is, therefore, a perfect time for us to creatively use this leadership election to challenge ourselves and cooperatively deliver political solutions for the party and for Wales.
I hope members across the party will utilise this opportunity positively, whichever candidate they decide to support.
We should guard against factionalism and I hope that ordinary members who aren’t aligned to any candidate at this stage will look unfavourably on those who decide to engage in negative and undermining tactics.
I joined Plaid Cymru because I love my country. Joining a unionist party would mean having to compromise on my loyalty to Wales.
The party, and Wales, is far more important than one individual. Let the battle of ideas commence.