Monday, 13 September 2010

Last look at Plaid's conference.

Its always a tonic to attend a party conference, delegates are always so optimistic. Having attended many during my professional life I have come to the conclusion that ordinary party members must submit themselves to some psychometric testing if they are to be appointed delegates. It is only those that are able to suspend any connection with reality and have a high quota of optimism that have the right qualities to be part of the chosen ones. No sceptic need apply.
The testing had certainly produced the right mix for the Plaid Cymru conference if optimism could run amok it certainly was amok in Aberystwyth. When politicians, as they are prone to, over egged things on the platform you got the distinct impression that the delegates in the audience really did believe that the promised land was just an election away. Perhaps its the sensory deprivation that you suffer in being locked away in a darkened room with other fellow travelers that allows even the mildest stimulation from the platform to create wild ecstasy amongst the delegate audience.
For instance when Helen Mary Jones, the current Director of Elections for the party announce on the platform that ‘they should be proud’ of their general election results the delegates cheered wildly and when she had finished her speech they gave her a standing ovation.
Now I’m very fond of Helen Mary and would gladly give her a standing ovation but surely not based on the results of last years general election results. 
At a time when Labour was at its weakest, led by a prime minister seen by many as incompetent, Plaid Cymru failed to make any headway. They started the campaign with three seats and finished with three seats. None of their target seats were won. You could describe the result as many things but ‘proud’ is not one of the words that readily comes to mind. The question has to be asked, will they fare any better when conditions are not as favorable in the future. But hey, ho, who wants a dose of reality after all it is a party conference.
Although the delegates did have something to get excited about, their latest recruit, the former Labour Secretary of State of Wales, Ron Davies. Now having actually delivered them an embryo parliament he only had to turn up to get them excited and indeed it was so. A standing ovation was his before he opened his mouth. Expectations were high and to be fair he didn’t fail to deliver.
Like the old pro that he is he waved his new party card, another stamping of feet, could it get any better. The forensic criticism of his old party for letting down the Valleys was music to their ears. Could he be the one to help Plaid make the break through to Labour’s heartland? Well certainly many in the hall believed it possible, whether the electorate of Caerffili are of the same view we will have to wait until next May. But the hope was worth another standing ovation when the latest recruit to the nationalist cause sat down.
A note of scepticism was introduced  by the ex-chair of the party John Dixon. In answering the debate on climate change he countered those proposing an amendment allowing for a Wylfa B, a move that would drive a coach and horses through Plaid’s avowedly anti-nuclear power policy. He wryly observed that Plaid if they passed the motion would be seen to be  against anti-nuclear power stations only on sites that no-one wanted to build them on. How did such a sceptic ever become a delegate? Just for the record they did pass such an amendment.

1 comment:

  1. Has sort of the echoes of David Steel's rally to the Liberals in 1983 "Prepare for government" except they did win 26% of the vote. Personally I believe that they should revert to calling themselves the Welsh National Party and the SNP should call themselves the "Party of Scotland"!