Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Plaid Cymru look at themselves

Dr Eurfyl ap Gwilym today published his conclusions on his look at Plaid   Cymru following their disastrous performance in the last Assembly elections. 
Short it is not. 

It contains 95 recommendations in eighty pages. It even manages to quote Niccolo Machiavelli 
“One must recognise that there is nothing more difficult or more perilous to undertake, than to introduce a new system of government, for he who seeks to create a new order makes enemies of all those who profited from the old.”
Perhaps a more appropriate quote from old Machi would have been,
“Everyone sees what you seem to be, few know what you really are, and those few, do not dare take a stand against the general opinion.”
So are these perceptions addressed, well yes, what wouldn’t be addressed in such a long report, but it’s not as if these have not been looked at before. 
Not some years back they had a relaunch in Carmarthen. There they dropped the Triban in favour of the Welsh poppy, change the name to Plaid -the party of Wales to reach out to non-Welsh speakers. 
But despite this, the view of voters about the party barely changed. It may have something to do with the party not being that enthusiastic about these changes. Certainly by the last election the party manifesto simply talked about “Plaid.”
Dr Eurfyl ap Gwilym frankly admitted the party has flat lined politically for  some years.
So to address the concern he suggested that the party should consider adopting the name “Welsh National Party” as its English name. 
This will really be a change of culture. After all in the past Plaid Cymru apparatchiks would come down hard on any sub-editor that allowed `Plaid to be described as “Welsh Nationalists.” Desperate times desperate measures, I guess.
On the vexed question of independence they are going to be more upfront. They are going to develop a constitutional route map to make the idea of independence more attractive. This they hope will win support for the next constitutional steps.
My guess is that as Harold Macmillan once said “events , dear, boy, events” will dictate the route map. The map is likely to be drawn more over Hadrian's wall than it ever will this side of Offa’s dyke.
For those who do not want to read the eighty odd pages, here are the key recommendations.

·         The establishment of a National Academy to revolutionise campaigning and organisation, as well as nurturing the community champions and national leaders of the future.
·         A radical modernisation of the party’s campaigning methods to create a permanently campaigning party equipped with the tools that are necessary for a modern 21st century party.
·         The establishment of a more effective mechanism for policy formulation. Ensuring that the skills of members, supporters and external experts are utilised in order to ensure better policy development.
·         An acceptance that the Party needs greater clarity over its aims in order to be able to present a coherent and united message to the people of Wales.
·         Fundamental changes to the Party’s structures in order to ensure clearer leadership and greater accountability from all Plaid representatives.

So there you have it. Plaid Cymru will now debate these recommendations, implement them and become the sleek winning electoral machine the aspire to be. That is of course if the party accepts the reforms.
But, perhaps, a bit of a give away was Dr Eurfyl’s comments in the launch, this is not the first time he’s written such a report for the party, he’s done it before and? Well, draw your own conclusions.
Oh, and just in case you wondered, they remain a left of centre party.

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