Why Plaid Cymru must re-elect Alun Ffred and reject attempts to divide the party
Jocelyn Davies, former Deputy Minister for Housing and Regeneration
Imagine the headlines on the morning of Friday the 7th of May 2021 as Wales wakes up to its first modern pro-independence government led by First Minister Adam Price.
What a good morning that will be in Wales.
That future will be achieved by a united and dedicated team of Plaid Cymru activists. And as someone who was a Minister in our first taste of national government from 2007 to 2011, I am well aware of the hard work that needs to be done to get the party ready for that future.
At Plaid Cymru’s conference on October 4th-5th at Swansea Grand Theatre, we will be electing the Chair of Plaid Cymru, and Alun Ffred will once again stand as a candidate.
I’m pleased to support Alun Ffred because I believe he has the capabilities to bring the party together when the need for unity and discipline is more important than ever as we face the challenge of winning in May 2021.
I’ve worked closely with Alun Ffred (or Ffred as he is known to his peers) as part of the One Wales Government. He was a successful Minister in a quiet, professional and reassuring way. He is someone that will keep your back no matter what and has an unwavering sense of loyalty to his fellow Plaid Cymru colleagues and members.
His time in the One Wales government as a minister, ushering in a new legal status for the Welsh language, showed how valuable his past experience leading Gwynedd Council and in business was.
As Plaid Cymru faces the challenge of pitching for government, the party needs a chair who can ensure its members are as much part of government as its ministers. Quietly effective, not seeking the limelight for himself (except perhaps when auctioning on behalf of the party!), Alun Ffred will ensure that all members have their say and that includes those who don’t attend every (sometimes tedious and fractious) branch or constituency meeting.
It goes without saying that he has been a chair in difficult circumstances as of late – the snap Westminster election in 2017, and a leadership election last year. However, Ffred always keeps his cool in times of stress and through the trials and tribulations of modern Welsh politics, maintains his professionalism and efficiency.
Working effectively with former leader Leanne Wood and now with Adam Price at the helm, Ffred continues to work tirelessly to be fair to all and ensure the party’s democratic processes work as they should.
His strong track record of running Gwynedd Council as leader and then leading a department of the Welsh Government shows that he is a man of steel and does not falter under pressure. We need his expertise as we go on to elect Adam Price as First Minister in 2021.
Alun Ffred can provide the stability and continuity our National Executive, our committed members and our hard-working staff need as we look ahead to the next two crucial years.
As Adam Price said in his recent article for Nation Cymru: it is a time to unite as a party, so we can unite our nation. Adam feared “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.
He is right when he says that these efforts – from outside our membership – achieve nothing but the stoking of factionalism and division inside our party and could also be fatal to our mission to form our country’s next government.
Adam has made a personal appeal to all members of Plaid Cymru who share our vision of victory in 2021 to reject this attempt to divide us.
I, therefore, urge members of the party to re-elect Alun Ffred Jones as party chair as we start on our journey to 2021. We don’t need a puppet controlled by elements outside the party as chair.
We have seen the recent success of the European election where we beat Labour for the first time in our 94-year history. Now more than ever, we need to go forward together as we move towards success in 2021.
At a time when all political parties are facing challenges from simplistic populists who seek to divide and a need to set out complex but necessary safeguards for society and all individuals Plaid Cymru cannot assume we are immune to such pressure.
The road to independence needs unity, not division, and Alun Ffred will ensure that.