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Saturday, May 07, 2005

Plaid in disarray

The Western Mail this morning reports that leading figures in Plaid Cymru are privately blaming each other for a disastrous election performance that saw the party reduced to just three MPs.

One party insider told the Western Mail, "The frightening thing is that those running the campaign didn't seem to see the loss of Ceredigion coming. You would think that a swing against Plaid in the seat would have been identified, with action taken to counter that.

"At the end of the day, Ceredigion was only lost by a couple of hundred votes. We're talking about people who obviously don't have their finger on the pulse. With proper organisation, the seat would still be ours.

Whether this is true or not, we were astonished at the failure of Plaid to respond to our campaign in Ceredigion. I certainly saw canvass returns a week and a half before the election that showed us neck and neck with the nationalists and the party responded by diverting resources out of Cardiff Central to Ceredigion.

A senior party figure said, "The Liberal Democrats are streets ahead of us in campaigning techniques. We need a lot of new resources. Currently we are operating on a shoestring. The Liberal Democrat campaign manual says you have to contact voters 15 times in the last four weeks."

The big question about Plaid Cymru of course is not about whether they are equipped to fight elections in the 21st Century as Martin Shipton's source assumes. It is about whether they are any longer relevant in modern Wales. Resources and people tend to be attracted to political movements and parties that are seen as being in touch and which have something to say about society. Is it just that Plaid Cymru's time has been and gone?
I think this past election shows us that all the main political parties need new leaders. It showed that the electorate didn't really want any of them.

Maybe if we had an election where Menzies Campbell, Gordon Brown, Caroline Spelman and Adam Price led their parties then we would have a higher turnout and more interest in the election.
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