Friday, 24 February 2012

Gloves off in leadership race

The open Plaid husting was a tame affair. All the candidates on their best behaviour, none to them delivering a killer punch. There are very much more exciting things to do with one’s time, watching paint dry might be such an alternative.
But one shouldn’t be fooled by the outward display of courtesy and goodwill. You know and I know, things are not always what they seem.
As Harold MacMillan once wryly commented, about the nature of party politics. The Opposition are in front of you it’s the enemy behind you have to watch.
It’s in the nature of these internal party elections that the gloves come off behind closed doors and its only occasionally do outside observers get a whiff of the vitriol behind the scenes. 
And lo, and behold such is the case with Plaid Cymru’s leadership election.  No sooner are the Plaid Cymru hustings over, the bare knuckle fighting begins.
Just as the ballot papers land in the letterboxes of party members they are confronted with the spectacle of two of the candidates, not so subtly, ganging up on the other.  
How? You may ask. Well, the prince across the water, a chap named Adam Price, has taken the pulse of the members and decided his candidate of choice was not anywhere near, home and dry. So he decided that it would have to be anyone, but Elin Jones.
It is difficult to know why, unless of course, it is based on the personal rather than the political. These things often are. 

 After all Elin Jones is the candidate that has made the clearest commitment to independence. She even said that she would produce a route map to such. Not a fare that many find palatable but red meat to others. And, right up Price’s street, one would think.
After all it was the very same Adam Price that wrote in December “ Without independence as our goal, what, frankly, is the point?  We might as well have spent our time in the metaphorical (or in some cases, quite literal) pub..... If I had wanted a life of political posturing that was agnostic on the question of independence I might have joined the Liberals..... Unlike the current Welsh Government I think targets are a good way of holding yourself to account.  So how about independence by 2036, as Elin Jones has suggested?  Why not?  Five hundred years of colonialism is surely enough, even for us long-suffering Welsh.”
Now to endorse the candidate that has almost the opposite view on independence to him, is strange indeed. That canny operator Dafydd Elis-Thomas, will be like the cat that got the cream with this endorsement. Indeed he wasted no time in posting it on his campaign web page. 
For the good Lord, has from the very start based his campaign strategy  on winning enough second preference votes to gain himself the crown.
Clearly Adam Price concurs “This election will probably be decided by second preference votes. For those of you who are supporting Dafydd with your first vote, I would urge you to consider supporting Leanne with your second. I would ask Leanne’s supporters to consider lending their second vote to Dafydd.“
So what are we to make of this dramatic intervention. From such a political thinker this is unlikely to be an impulsive intervention. He would have thought it through. As a political journalist I can ensure readers, stories such as this hardly ever are printed after some news breaking investigative journalism. They are handed to us on a plate, to suit the agenda of the politician that places it (and also the needs of a journalist to break a story)
So why was the story placed? Well, clearly, there is a feeling abroad that Elin Jones is the candidate that has to be stopped. Have the other two made a deal to stop her? Politics are full of marriages of convenience.  It certainly wouldn’t be the first time in the sordid world politics that a deal had been struck. 
And could there also be worry that if Elin Jones won, she might just be a successful  and gritty leader. Now, if that happened there wouldn’t be any pressure for her to move aside in a few years time. In such circumstances there just might not be a coronation for the venerable Price. Perish, the thought. 
But whatever the motive it would seem to be hamfisted. There is nothing that party members, who are usually sophisticated in their politics, resent more, than to be told what to do and how to vote.


  1. Good thoughtful and thought provoking critical analysis. I like like it!

    Much more of the same please. And why not start by trying to take some of our politicians, the ones in the Welsh government, to task over this AWEMA scandal.

    It just isn't right that they think they can sit back and let it all blow over. No, the public demand to hear from them, and hear from them now!

  2. I don't buy the idea that Leanne is likely to be any less 'successful and gritty' than Elin. The only one certain not to be around for a long time is Dafydd. As such, I can see there could be a reason to vote for him if you ultimately want Adam as leader. But if you don't think that way, and don't support Dafydd outright, the question is, which of the other two might the people of Wales still be feeling warm about in four, five, six years time after they've fully grown into the role. The only answer for me is Leanne.

  3. The saintly Adam is determined to stop one of the candidates the one that is nearest his political aspiration and in the process shed his long held principles, you've got to ask the question Why?

  4. Eh? Please elaborate

  5. I can't agree with you on this, Gareth. The contest might go to the second round, but the candidate most likely (almost certain!) to get excluded from the next round, and therefore the one whose second preference votes are the most likely to make a difference, is the Good lord. Adam's interjection is purely calculated to boost Leanne's chances of gaining those votes by flattering DET's supporters that Leanne's voters will support his as second choice.

    Like thousands of others , I will leave Plaid after a lifetime if DET wins. How is it possible to call yourself a socialist and also be a fawning apologist for a hereditary monarchy? Also - he's had two previous chances at leading the party, and he was a disaster!

  6. Siônnyn, your interest is in socialism. Plaid, on the other hand, is only interested in power.

    There is quite a difference.

    Perhaps it really is time the many thousands like you left this party you have, over the years, so completely misunderstood.

  7. "The saintly Adam is determined to stop one of the candidates the one that is nearest his political aspiration and in the process shed his long held principles, you've got to ask the question Why?"

    Maybe in order to break the stranglehold that a tiny group of people - all Elin supporters - have held over the party for such a long time? People like KP shuold ask what they've done for the party, except ostracise the membership. Time for change.

  8. If this is a race between Leanne and Elin then it has to be Elin Jones. We certainly are in the midst of games, but who's the main player? Leanne answered at the latest debate that the best export for Wales is lamb - yet she is vegetarian and stated in a PC fringe in a past conference that everyone should stop eating meat to reduce the carbon footprint! Elin announces the best export for Wales is it's water, then Leanne goes and puts a statement out titled something like "hands off our water". Personally, if you pay for it, and we have plenty of it then sell it!!!!!! How terribly behind not to see the potential of our water. And why, oh why oh why, have we a David Linden, of SNP Youth, voting for Leanne all the way from Bonnie Scotland?? Those who want to see a future for Plaid, the future for Wales (not Scotland) vote for the future potential leader of a Government. On a final note, I doubt the rural vote will go no other way than towards Elin of Dafydd - and if it doesn't? The result? A jubilant Conservative party..........and that from someone who is not a member of Plaid

  9. Anon 12:17

    Before Plaid get into government, and I don't mean as a bit player, but the lead party, it has to win majority support from the electorate.

    Taking a hard-headed look at the three of them, one is an absolute no-hoper, whose great ambition is to assist Labour in governing Wales (badly), another has the charisma and energy of a damp squib, whereas the third just might lift the party out of the slough that it's got itself into.

    I think what Leanne meant regarding water, is that it should be owned and controlled by the people of Wales, to do with as we see fit. If that means selling it, then that is what will happen.

    The Tories will never have a majority in Wales, they have that toxicity in the Welsh psyche as an alien political entity. Although important, the farming community does not represent the majority, and Plaid needs votes to form a Welsh government, to improve the lot of all of us, including the agricultural community.