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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Have Plaid Cymru missed the boat?

This morning's Wales on Sunday reports the possibility that none of Plaid Cymru's three candidates for the House of Lords may be nominated for the ermine this side of a general election, if at all.

It is believed that the Prime Minister has no intention of creating any new peers ahead of the long-anticipated reform of the Lords. Plans are due to be announced in the next few weeks with a referendum to be held on the various options at the same time as the general election.

Dafydd Wigley supports the reform of the second chamber but is frustrated at the fact that nobody has told him what is going on. Similar frustration has been expressed by a number of Plaid Cymru AMs I have discussed the issue with. Sanddef however has characterised the delay as a snub. He believes that Gordon Brown is showing his contempt for Wales.

It is worth asking as to when Plaid Cymru became synonymous with Wales, but that would be accepting Sanddef's basic premise that the nationalists are entitled to these seats in the Lords which is of course nonsense under the present system. The actual problem is that for years Plaid have refused to participate in the process, it is only now that they have relented and they have very good reasons for doing so. However, their timing stinks and they are paying the price.

I know of no other nominees for a place in the House of Lords who believe that they should have it as of right. Nor would they sulk so obviously in public that they have to wait for information or for preferment. The process is badly flawed and needs to be scrapped in favour of a really democratic one but in the meantime you have to go with the flow.

If Gordon Brown has decided not to create any more peers for now then it is just hard cheese for Plaid's nominees. I doubt if any thought of their plight even crossed his mind, and why should it have?
However, their timing stinks and they are paying the price.

I know it's a Sunday, Peter, but is that really what passes for a logical basis to an argument? I think not.
It is certainly a more measured and logical judgement than 'Gordon Brown is showing his contempt for Wales.'
An excellent post. Plaid are never more self-preening than when they elevate their own setbacks to the status of "insults to Wales". They are never more absurd than when darkly hinting at establishment plots against them. This issue manages to combine both these qualities.

As you rightly point out, Plaid have nobody but themselves to blame for eschewing the Lords for so long. You say you know of no other aspirant nominee who would act in such a presumptive manner. I would go further and point to the case of the DUP who for years sought places in the Lords (they were never sniffy about the value of such places) and did not get them until fairly recently. I do not recall them behaving in this ridiculous fashion.

The fact of the matter is that Plaid decided they wanted places in the Lords without looking at what might be involved in attaining them. Now they expect this whining, plaintive tone to achieve something. As you say, I very much doubt Gordon Brown has given the matter a moment's thought.
Normal Mouth makes an excellent point. I would only add that Plaid have also been eschewing the Welsh economy and Welsh schooling. On both accounts Wales is underperforming. Plaid has failed to understand the importance of filing patents on inventions and discoveries made by the University of Wales. The patent issue rate is plain BAD. Only the medical school in Cardiff (now merged with Cardiff Uni) has a good patent filing record.

Serious investment in new innovation will not happen absent effective intellectual property protection. This seems to be a lesson that Plaid doesn't get. I wonder if they are biased against commercial exploitation of Welsh university innovation.
Could there be just the slightest possibility that a Government reported to Scotland Yard for allegedly selling honours is reluctant to honour its accusers?

p.s. "the Prime Minister has no intention of creating any new peers ahead of the long-anticipated reform of the Lords" - maybe so, but two new peers take their seats tomorrow.....
Surely the point is that, having sold out to the British state, Wigley and other are entitled to have their 30 pieces of silver.

David Walters
Hmmn, well I think that the Lords is a continuing disgrace, and Plaid aren't much more than an embarrassment to Wales, but they obtained about 20% of the vote at the Assembly elections, on a 43% turn-out, which means that more or less 8% of the population wanted to vote for them ... so about 200,000 of the people of Wales.

Now, there are 746 'Lords' for about 62,000,000 folk in the UK, or roughly one for every 83,100 person. It follows that, given that they already have one Lord, PC ought, at best, to hope for one more, and certainly not as many as 3! They can't really claim to be drastically under-represented for sure.
Actually, based on the number of MPs and their vote, they would be entitled to three. They have partly done so in order for Wales not having to rely on Lord's Carlisle and Kinnock to stand up for Wales-that has to be an incentive for anyone. Having said that, if Brown is intent on ridding the UK of this ridiculous second chamber and coming up with something a little more democratic, then that's great news. Mind you, that would mean him making a decision.
Is it me, or has Normal Mouth got a little bitter and twisted? I'm not all that surprised, looking at the state of his party and their inevitable collapse in Westminster.
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