Monday, 9 January 2012
Backing from across the pond
The leader Plaid Cymru members really want is currently devoting himself to academia on the other side of the pond. It is, of course, Adam Price. But he took a trip over the Atlantic to personally back one of the four candidates. And the candidate that got the Plaid Cymru’s favourite son’s backing? Leanne Wood.
Price says about her as “a new departure for Plaid an English speaker from the Rhondda. But she would be the best person with the clearest vision to transform the party into a pan Wales party.”
“She has reached out both geographically and politically from her Rhondda base. This English speaker has reached out and has had more support from the Welsh Language Society than any other candidate.”
He went to say that it was a two woman race between Elin Jones and Leanne Wood. This, he said. was “a good thing.” He hoped that Plaid would become the only political party with a woman holding all the senior posts in the party.
So there you have it. men have had there go now is the turn of the women. But uniquely it is possible that any candidate that can encourage enough to join the party will gain an advantage. It’s said that many young people are backing Leanne Wood. But to stand a chance of pulling it off she’s got to get them to join. If she succeeds in recruiting them, who know she may cause an upset.
But Price was pressed on the issue perhaps of more interesting to the wider readership of this blog than his endorsement of Wood his views on the spat between Westminster and Holyrood.
On a poker game between the Cameron and the Salmond on the issue, Price would put his money on Salmond being the winner.
Price is right in one respect Cameron is taking an enormous gamble with the Union. In insisting that it’s Westminster decision as to when and how the referendum will be held he pitches a battle between the Scottish Government and Westminster. If Cameron gets his way he will insist that Scotland hold a referendum on the issue in the next 18 months.
To add salt to the wound, he is also likely to insist that it will be a simple yes no vote. He is to rule out a third question on the ballot paper, over a form of devolution stopping short of independence. This latter option is one that much of Scottish Civic Society would like to see and also a large number of Labour members over the border.
Cameron certainly will be laying down the gauntlet to Salmond when he publishes a consultation paper, probably this week, revealing clear legal advice that the independence referendum will be binding under the Scotland Act only if both parliaments agree to its going ahead.
His argument is that the uncertainty created by the prospect of independence is harming the Scottish and UK economies, and a delay until 2014 is not possible.
It doesn’t take much imagination to work out the Scottish Governments response. It will be played as a blatant attempt by an English Tory government’s to interfere with a decision that’s one for the Scottish people.
Cameron’s decision will play very much into the hands of the SNP. They will not miss many opportunities in portraying the campaign as the Scots against the Tory government in England.
Whilst two recent polls have suggested that independence still has only minority support, though it is increasing. The Scottish Social Attitudes Survey showed that backing for a split with the rest of the UK was at a six-year high of 32%, nine points up on last year. Cameron’s intervention will undoubtedly push this number up. It would take a very brave man to bet against it happening.
So why has Mr Cameron taken this enormous gamble? Has he made the calculation that separation from Scotland might serve his purpose better. It would mean that England would likely turn out a Tory government more often than it wouldn’t. Is Cameron preparing to sacrifice the Union for his party’s own political gain.
And if that came to pass, where would that leave Wales? Would the Welsh Labour party be prepared to put up with almost permanent Conservative rule from Westminster? Would a rump of thirty Welsh MPs be anything but a token with little or no influence in Westminster?
Ironically, it might be Welsh Labour and not Plaid Cymru that delivers Welsh independence. Where then would the new leader of Plaid Cymru take her/his party. After all its founding aims would have been met? Would the new political party that was Plaid Cymru be a party that was going to out 'left' Labour, or become a party of the centre right?
Perhaps, it’s a question that members of the party should ask candidates before they cast their votes.