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Thursday, May 12, 2011

Former PO expresses an opinion

If Plaid Cymru were fearful that former Presiding Officer, Dafydd Elis Thomas might now have a bit too much time on his hands to cause mischief due to standing down from the top job, then they were proved right this morning.

The Western Mail reports that he has strongly criticised Plaid Cymru’s Assembly election strategy, describing its focus on attacking former coalition mates Labour as “mindless”.

His remarks are worth quoting in full: “I thought there was a very simple message, which was ‘this is what we did in government, this is what we did together, and this is what we would do again if there was an opportunity’.

“And for some reason that was not adopted. I don’t know why that was decided, obviously I was not part of any of that discussion.

“And I think the people who did the strategy would have benefited from a closer look at what European and other legislatures and governments do when they come out of coalition. Because people even in the group were talking about ‘when do we start disengaging?’

“Well, that’s rubbish as far as I’m concerned. Because politics is not about who has the best fight with each other during an election. It’s about who produces the best ideas and earns the trust of the electorate, and that is inherently a positive thing.”

Lord Elis-Thomas said the party’s national campaign, “such as it was”, spent most of its time attacking Labour.

“What’s the point of attacking Labour if you’re looking for Labour votes?” he said. “It’s what I don’t understand.

“What Labour did very successfully in this election was fight the election on Plaid ground. They said ‘we will stand up for Wales’. And what did Plaid do? They started attacking them.

“I said in the group a number of times, I said people’s votes move in all sorts of directions in constituencies and you need to ensure that, when you’re campaigning, you’re campaigning to attract support, not to attack other parties in a mindless sort of way. And that’s what we had.

“And anyway, the whole of the campaign clearly made no difference to the polls, and perhaps a different campaign might not have made much of a difference either, but I think it might have made the situation before and after easier.”

He claimed that Plaid had found it difficult to campaign nationally on the back of being part of a coalition government for the first time in its history.

“Without a shadow of a doubt, One Wales was a huge success, but for some reason it could not be celebrated in the election,” he said.

“This is what counters negativity. You don’t put more negativity into the debate by attacking. But there are people, of course, who take a different view, who think that it’s important to attack other political parties as... I don’t know what the motivation is.

“It’s a way of partly, I think, in the case of Plaid, by this very unhealthy continuing conflict between Plaid and Labour in the Valleys.

“I experienced this very negatively when I was trying to lead the party in the ’80s. Because there were people who were not interested in what I was trying to do to develop an urban position on the left in the cities across South Wales and the North- East.

“They were only interested in a fight to the death between Labour and Plaid in the Valleys, as if any of the rest of Wales cared about it. And I thought our experience in government had cured us of that, but unfortunately, I have to say, there are people sitting in that party group today who are still talking in those old local government fight-to-the-death between Plaid Cymru and Labour terms. And we can’t have it anymore.”

Plaid Cymru held a group meeting earlier this week, following which they were keen to give the impression that the position of Ieuan Wyn Jones as Leader was secure and that all that is needed is a thorough inquest into their disastrous campaign.

Even though two of the perpetrators of the 2003 curry house plot have now lost their seats, that does not mean that the former Deputy First Minister can rest easy. If we get any more of this sort of open dissent then anything can happen.
The decisions were taken at National Exec and National Council and DET was not at either meetings. DET thinks he is more influential than he is. He is out on a limb within the party and has been for a long time.
I've long been asking what the point of Plaid is, and what they are. I suppose that if they do go back in time and (re)take DET on as leader they'll at least have to stop posing as lefter-than'labour socialists in s wales - either that or look even bigger charlies when trying to do so led by a 'Lord'!
Question for Peter .... Given that (a) the Welsh Government now has primary legislative powers, (b) the Secretary of State for Wales is no longer a cabinet position, (c) the Wales Office is at best a ceremonial shell, (d) Carwyns' biggest headache will be Peter Hain not necessarily anyone in the Senedd, and (d) the ConDems in Westminster desperately seeking a proper Welsh person to be Secretary of State...

Is there any constitutional bar on Dafydd El being 'found' a role as cross party 'Secretary of State" as a sitting member of the House of Lords ?

There is evidently no need for a Secretary of State in the traditional sense. Just being a bit radical, but I suspect Plaid, Labour, Tories and the LibDems and just about everyone in Wales would all see it as a bit of a shoe-in to solve a number of problems. He could also start the Lords reform which he has always talked of. Dafydd El would love it, and we could throw in a pipe, slippers and a posh cloak. He could even have tea and buns with the Queen.
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