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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Plaid Cymru in turmoil?

Plaid Cymru AMs and activists have already been on social networking sites to condemn this article in today's Western Mail as evidence that Matt Withers knows little 'about Plaid and Welsh politics' or even that it is 'inaccurate' and 'full of lies'. So clearly, some of it must be right.

It is worth pointing out by the way that the article was written by Martin Shipton and not Matt Withers. Did Bethan Jenkins actually read it?

The paper says that political sources both within and beyond Plaid have spoken to them about the crisis facing the party as potential leadership contenders decide whether to seek the top job. They add that the party appears to be in turmoil with staff leaving, concerns about the elimination of senior posts and rows over past and future manifestos:

A source said: “The party is in a worse state than it has been for many years. It’s four seats down and the Assembly group has lost leading figures like Helen Mary Jones and Nerys Evans.

“Since the election in May there has been an exodus of staff, with people going on to jobs elsewhere.

“There is also considerable disquiet over a decision to scrap the roles of director of policy and director of equal opportunities, both of which posts are being subsumed into bigger roles that won’t allow them to get the attention they deserve.”

It has also emerged that rows are going on behind the scenes about the party manifestos – both for this year’s Assembly election and next year’s council elections.

Another source said: “This year’s manifesto was a shambles and it was impossible for local members and branches to get any input to it. Simon Thomas [the former Ceredigion MP who was elected as a regional AM for Mid & West Wales in May] was tasked with writing it, but the manifesto that appeared was written very hurriedly by Rhuanedd Richards.

“It wasn’t a very good manifesto – you only need to look at the election results to see what impact it had.”

Mr Thomas confirmed he had been asked to put together the manifesto. He said: “I was tasked with drafting the manifesto, which I did. But they decided they wanted a very different thing and Rhuanedd wrote the final version.”

Implying that some people in the party might be trying to spoil his chances of winning the leadership, he said: “I’m very happy to stand on my record of working for Plaid over many years.”

A source said: “It’s been decided that next year’s local government manifesto will be a national one, with the same document distributed in all the council areas of Wales. But there’s a view that local elections should be fought on local issues, not with policies imposed from the centre.”

The source suggested that Plaid’s deputy leader of Cardiff Council, Neil McEvoy, was bitterly opposed to the idea of a Wales-wide local government manifesto.

Whatever the truth, there is no doubt in my mind that so far in the new Assembly term Plaid Cymru have been a shadow of their former selves, rudderless, dispirited and lacking in purpose. What is worse for them is that there does not appear to be a leader in waiting capable of putting things right. The Western Mail analysis of potential candidates is not that far off the truth at all.
This coming from a Liberal democtrat whom not so long ago had to deal with the disqualification of AM's due to lack of proper leadership and scrutiny within the party?.

This coming from a Liberal Democrat who's party made the biggest U-turn in history regarding tuition fees and lost their core support?

Deary me, it's always nice to see desperation on another party's behalf to attack.

I make note that all parties have been attacking Plaid Cymru recently and purposly tried to make Plaid Cymru irrelevant why the obsession?

Is it perhaps because come the local Elections, European Elections, Westminster Elections and next Welsh assembly Elections that Plaid Cymru will be the only true opposition party in Wales with the Tory's and Libdems at Westminster and Labour in Cardiff bay?

It's evidently true to me that theres alot of fight left in Plaid Cymru and other parties have sensed this and are trying toreact aptly yet sasddly it bears no fruit Peter :)

Comical read however, you ought to try harder.
Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch.

This says it all: ''the Assembly group has lost leading figures like Helen Mary Jones and Nerys Evans.''

Yes .....
It would be pretty dull of me to oppose a national manifesto. Ah well...! Neil Mc
When it comes to leadership issues and being rudderless Peter, please have a look at your own party before anyone else's. The article in the Western Mail is absolute nonsense and the reason why bloggers have reacted to it in such a manner is because it is so far from the truth.

There is simply no issue over the Council manifesto, we are having our usual staff turnorver after a major election and so I have no idea where this story is coming from.
Oh dear! We are sensitive arent we? This is not coming from me, nor is it coming from my party, this is coming from Plaid Cymru activists who are briefing the Western Mail. So there is no desperation at all. If anything I have reported it sympathetically.

The disqualification of two AMs had nothing to do with leadership or scrutiny. It was a failure on the part of the two candidates themselves aided and abetted by the ineptitude of the electoral commission. At best you could say it was an administrative failure on the part of the Welsh Lib Dems.

As for what will happen in future local elections Cymro i'r Carn's predictions seem to rely more on hope over experience, especially given Plaid Cymru's disastrous showing in the last three sets of Wales-wide elections.

As for my own Party Ian, we are not just benefitting from an exceptional leader but at the Westminster level we are in government. It is a shame Plaid have nobody who can match Kirsty's charisma.
Are you serious abour Clegg? He is a disaster for the Libs and is the reason why you are collapsing all over the UK. Your party's agreement with Tory policies in London will also I'm afraid lead to you being wiped out in next year's Council elections. It will not be a reflection of your party's abilities at Council level and I do believe that the influence of current UK politics on all elections is very unhealthy.
This is obviously some anti-Plaid spin. Of course there's been an 'exodus' of staff. The number of staff employed by AMs is proportionate to the number of AMs elected. Plaid lost a few in the last election, so there's bound to be a reduction in staff. If appears the 'Western Mail' has spun a 'turmoil' story out of this, by threading it into the leadership contest. As far as the 'local elections manifesto' is concerned, all parties have a national manifesto but also campaign locally on local issues. Plaid is no different from any other party in this.
There you go with that crystal ball again Ian. It is a shame you and your party have never got it to work properly. Predictions like Plaid Cymru topping the vote in the European elections, like you being the main challenger in Swansea West in 2007, like Plaid being the main opposition to Labour in the Assembly after 2011, like Plaid Cymru regaining Ceredigion. Predictions like the Welsh Lib Dems being wiped out in Wales this May. All failures.

You may not have noticed but all the polls recently have had the Lib Dems up and the ICM had us gaining 4 points to 16%. Clegg has had his reputation enhanced by hackgate and we have a credible narrative as being more radical than the Tories and more responsible than Labour. There is all to play for.
Now whom is the sensetive little soul Peter?

All factors regarding future elections are new factors that haven't been before and I sense you and your party colleagues are picking up on this.

You're vote in Wales slashed more so than Plaid's vote being topped by the BNP in many constituency. Topped by facists. Is it really Plaid Cymru that's in disaster in Wales or are you masking out your own Party's problems?

I mean Liberal Democrats? What do you stand for? Whats liberal in making huge cuts? What's democratic in AV ? the Referendum you all flocked to which was nothing but a comprimise on true electoral form.

As a played Cymru member I will not take any lectures from a Liberal Democrat.

P.S I stood up for Aled Roberts case, but that issue was not the individuals fault as you assume rather a lack of guidance on YOUR Party's behalf.
The Gerald Elias report was quite clear that Aled Roberts did everything he could to check his eligibility to stand but was misled by the Electoral Commission. I do not see how that is the party's fault.

Our vote in Wales may have gone down but so did Plaid Cymru's. We lost one AM they lost four. It seems to me that they had a much more disastrous election than us.

We are quite clear what we stand for and in government we are delivering it. Yes, we have had to compromise on AV for example but we forced the Tories to hold a referendum on that. What happened to Plaid Cymru's commitment to PR when they were in government in Wales? Why werent they pushing it for local Councils? When I put forward legislation a large chunk of your party failed to show up and it was narrowly voted out.

And there is nothing liberal or radical about steering the country to bankruptcy as has happened in Greece. We are taking responsibility for putting the country's finances back on an even keel whilst at the same time cutting the taxes for 1.2m low paid workers in Wales.

You mentioned Tuition Fees before and you are right we did the wrong thing on that. But Plaid Cymru also did a u-turn on this issue a few years ago, in defiance of a manifesto pledge. I am not taking lectures from somebody who cannot even spell the name of their own party on keeping promises in a coalition situation.

It seems to me that the question on everybody's lips now is what do Plaid Cymru stand for?
Plaid should, imho, 'step outside the box' and tap someone that no one thought of to lead Plaid. I second Lembit Öpik for the job. If this proves unacceptable, then in the words of…

Arnold J. Rimmer: "The only thing standing between them (Plaid) and total victory is this pathetic little pocket of Plaid whiners; without a plan, without a leader. Then, into this bleak arena steps a man, THE man for the moment..."

Kryten: Who?

Rimmer: Me. Who did you think, Pat Boone?
Firstly Peter, Bethan Jenkins comment was referring to the leadership contenders piece that was written by Matt Withers not Martin Shipton. I don't agree with her but it is important to note that you are wrong to state she hasn't read it when in fact you have confused two different pieces.

Secondly, Are you serious about Kirsty having charisma!!!

Under her leadership the Lib Dems fell behind UKIP at the European elections, lost MPs at the last Westminster elections and lost an AM at the last Assembly election. The fact the number of AMs was only reduced by 1 does not hide the fact that in many seats your vote collapsed. Indeed I think I am right to say you lost deposits in around 20 constituencies? That is a scandalous collapse. I won't go so far as to predict next years council elections but I would start preparing yourself for damage limitation if I was you.

Also the disqualification of AMs is a leadership issue when Kirsty is on the record in committee stating that she knew about the issues. You can argue who she was talking about, I personally do not believe she was referring to Bill Powell as claimed, but even if she was a diligent leader would have ensured that message went far and wide to avoid any problems. I also find it very hard to swallow that when you were making the case you fell on your sword and said it was a failure of the party etc. Now you have benefited from support from other parties you throw it back saying it was the individuals concerned. That is a change of tact that makes your statement in the chamber seem very suspicious.
"We are taking responsibility for putting the country's finances back on an even keel whilst at the same time cutting the taxes for 1.2m low paid workers in Wales."

You're cutting taxes whilst overseeing a rise in inflation, and a rise in VAT, which wipes out the effect of the tax cuts. You can try and pull the wool over peoples eyes all you want but those low paid workers are going to cast a definitive verdict on your party's commitment to neoliberalism and austerity at the local elections, by which time the UK economy will probably be in even further danger. Whatever Plaid's problems, you are going to do worse than them at the local elections, and your party faces reversals in Cardiff, Newport, Swansea and also Wrecsam.
If politics is about gaining and using power then Plaid have gone backwards and Libdems have moved forward. Who knows what will happen in the future. A more interesting discussion is about the failure of the political class to uphold many of the institutions we need for a civilized society.Think Banks, Media, Police and of course MPs and Lords. We are indeed morally and economically bankrupt. How do we recover? Thats the most important question facing all you politicos tonight.
Phillip Hall: the only byline on that page is Martin Shipton's. There is no indication that any part of it was written by Matt Withers.

Fact: The Liberal Democrats in 2005 had already fallen behind UKIP in Wales. Under Kirsty's leadership they may not have recovered that position but they did increase their share of the vote in 2010.

I think we all accept that the loss of Lembit was a special case, however in that General Election we massively increased our vote in Ceredigion and came within a hairsbreadth of winning Swansea West.

Yes, we lost an AM in 2011 but the Welsh Liberal Democrats outperformed the party elsewhere in the UK, especially Scotland. It is widely acknowledged that this was partly down to Kirsty's exceptional performance as leader. In contrast Plaid Cymru continued the drift started in 2010 and lost 4 AMs. The Liberal Democrat vote was depressed right across the UK so I don't think you can put vote share and deposit losses at Kirsty's door. What she did do though was lead the party in a way that bucked that trend in terms of seats won and that is what counts.

Let's see what happens in next year's Council elections. I think Plaid Cymru need to be worried about them as well.

Do you seriously think that if Kirsty had known there was a problem with John Dixon and Aled Roberts she would have let them stand without sorting it out. Your pathetic allegation of her lying does not stand up. Equally, do you seriously think she knows what positions each and every candidate holds on external bodies. At the end of the day it is their responsibility to sort that out and I have said that consistently from the start of this affair. There is an administrative issue on the part of the party but attempts by you and others to turn this into a leadership matter is really rather desperate.

Welsh Ramblings: yes VAT has gone up but you know that does not apply to essentials like food, children's clothes and energy. As for inflation that will settle down. The fact is that we are introducing a more progressive tax system by cutting taxes for the poor. Your grumbling from the sidelines does not alter that fact.

The same rule applies to your crystal ball as to others. On past form it is not very reliable and you must forgive me if I don't take it seriously for now.
Not a single comment in Welsh to try and confuse the issue !
Perhaps that's the way forward for Plaid, would be a very popular policy with businesses to dump the nonsense of dual language costs.
At least it gets recycled in this household, unless it's printed on the reverse !
I must say Peter I am very disappointed that you refused my comment yet allowed the anti-welsh comment as seen above regarding bilingualism. Very disappointed indeed. I hope this isn't a view that is expressed all to often within the Liberal Democrats or we're an even direr state than first thought.
You were being tedious and repetitive. I was saving you from yourself!
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