‘Vote Plaid Cymru – Get Labour’

Leanne Wood, leader of Plaid Cymru, has announced that her party will not go into coalition with the Conservatives after next May’s elections to the Notional Assembly. (Read all about it!) From where I’m sitting, this would appear to condemn Plaid Cymru to either impotence or a pact with Labour. Not an attractive choice, Leanne Woodbut then, when you play student politics with a nation’s future, and duck the real issues, you deserve no third option. Though the nation of course deserves a lot better than Plaid Cymru.

If my judgement strikes some as a little harsh, then that’s because, as a nationalist, I have little time for Plaid Cymru. But before dismissing my opinion out of hand let us examine the possibilities for next May’s elections. A good way to start is by reminding ourselves of the results from the Assembly election in 2011 and the two polls since then, the Euro elections of May 2014 and the UK general election of May 2015.

In 2011, Labour gained 30 seats, half of the total, and chose not to go into coalition with another party. They’ve never really come unstuck. Plaid Cymru came third, with less than half of Labour’s vote in both constituencies and regions, and well behind the Conservatives. The Liberal Democrats averaged over 9% of the total, while Ukip, who contested only the regional lists, gained a paltry 4.6% of the votes cast.Assembly election 2011

By the European elections of 2014 Ukip had transformed itself into a major force in the politics of Englandandwales (but not Scotland), and was now the second party in Wales, just .6 of a percentage point behind Labour. All the other parties bar the Greens lost ground.

Just seven weeks ago we saw Ukip fall back somewhat, and drop from its second place in 2014 to third, but it still got more votes than Plaid Cymru. In fact, Ukip came second to Labour in a number of Valleys’ seats which, when taken with the increase in the Tory vote, tells us there was a move to the right which, as I suggested in my blog post Election 2015: Plaid Cymru Fails, Again, might have marked the death of the ‘socialist Wales’ myth. From these recent results it’s reasonable to predict that Labour, with just 30 seats in 2011 and its share of the votEuro election 2014e dropping since then, will not win 30 seats in 2016.

The major changes since 2011 are, quite obviously, the rise of Ukip, then there’s the increase in the Tory vote, and finally the near-demise of the Liberal Democrats. Next year Ukip could, if the heavenly bodies align aright, win a seat or two; though if that doesn’t pan out, and given that the party might get 15 – 20% of the regional vote, then it could pick up 5 – 8 seats.

Labour has in previous Assembly elections gained less than other parties from the regional lists, just two seats in 2011, because it wins so many constituency seats, so the bigger threat to Labour may come at the constituency level. With Labour losing Gower and the Vale of Clwyd to the Conservatives last month, and the Lib Dems losing Brecon & Radnor to the same opponents, there must be a possibility that these resuGE2015lts will be repeated next year. If so, then it would establish the Tories as the second largest party by some margin. This seems predictable because the number of Plaid Cymru AMs is bound to fall, partly because other than Llanelli  it’s impossible to see a seat Plaid could gain (though maybe not if Siân Caiach stands again), and Plaid is bound to lose out to Ukip in the regional allocation. Though if the Lib Dems do lose Brecon & Radnor then that makes it more likely they will be compensated with a couple of regional seats.

Looking at the bigger picture it would not be unreasonable to predict the following result for next year’s Assembly elections: Labour 26 seats (-4), Conservative 17 (+3), Ukip 7 (+7), Plaid Cymru 7 (-4), Lib Dems 2 (-2), Greens 1 (+1). Which would mean that to cobble together an administration Labour would need to go into coalition with Plaid Cymru, which is almost certainly what influenced Ms Wood’s rejection of a deal with the Tories. But this is so short-sighted.

Being a native of the Rhondda Ms Wood must know that throughout the Valleys (and indeed the south) there are tens and tens of thousands of people looking for a Prediction 2016viable alternative to Labour, that’s why they turned out last month and last year to vote Tory and Ukip in Caerffili, Merthyr, Blaenau Gwent and Islwyn, and in the process pushed Plaid Cymru down to fourth place. So why should anyone who doesn’t want Labour in power vote for the party that will keep Labour in power?

There may be another, even less charitable way of looking at this. Over the years I have consistently argued that the Labour Party relies on deprivation in Wales – and blaming the Tories for that deprivation – to keep people voting Labour. This means that Labour has no incentive to make Wales a wealthier country, and this then explains the obscene amounts of public funding wasted on Labour’s cronies in the Third Sector, so that they can make an industry out of deprivation and present their parasitism as a form of economic activity.

Could it be that Plaid Cymru, most definitely a begging bowl party, has taken this reasoning a step further? Have those at the highest, policy-making levels of the party calculated that if a poor Wales votes Labour, then a poorer Wales might swing towards Plaid Cymru? Don’t dismiss the suggestion out of hand; just ask yourself, what other hope has Plaid Cymru got of ever becoming a successful party? Well, of course, there is one, obvious route; Plaid could be a Welsh party, focusing on Welsh issues, from a Welsh perspective. But that option was rejected in favour of a slow, lingering death – for both nation and party – decades ago.

Last month I loaned Plaid Cymru my vote because I persuaded myself that doing so was a way of giving a proxy vote to the SNP, a party I respect greatly for confronting the Labour monster head-on, and slaying it. Compare that to what we now hear from Plaid Cymru – ‘A vote for us is a vote for Labour’. How do we explain the difference?begging bowl 1

I can’t help thinking that one explanation for ruling out any pact with the Tories may be Ms Wood’s desire to play to a foreign gallery. I’m thinking now of those Left-Green ‘progressive elements’ Plaid so assiduously courted a few months ago. If so, then it’s another reminder of how divorced from Wales and Welsh issues Plaid Cymru has become. By comparison, the Scottish National Party does not fashion its policies to appeal to audiences in Islington, or the offices of the Guardian newspaper . . . and certainly not Labour HQ!

But if Plaid Cymru wants to talk about poverty, then okay. Let’s talk about the poverty of ambition in the party that has the nerve to call itself The Party of Wales. While the SNP is leading the Scottish people to independence, Plaid Cymru’s ambition extends no further than begging a few more crumbs from England’s table and propping up Carwyn Jones and his gang of deadbeats. Almost fifty years after Gwynfor Evans won Carmarthen Plaid Cymru’s ambition today extends no further than acting as a crutch for the party of George Thomas and Neil Kinnock in a system of sham devolution. Now that’s poverty! And total failure.

61 thoughts on “‘Vote Plaid Cymru – Get Labour’

  1. Jane

    I absolutely hate the fact that I agree with you.

    I am coming from completely the other end of the political spectrum (left liberal). I think a genuinely left wing party should be promoting ways for our communities to be able to provide employment at or above a living wage for all. A Welsh nationalist party should be inspiring the Welsh electorate and promoting Wales interests above all others – even if it does cause offence.

    I can’t see any evidence of either of those things which is why I have to agree with you.

    1. Your response suggests that this is not an ideological thing, it’s a general recognition that Plaid Cymru is useless.

  2. “Labour has no incentive to make Wales a wealthier country”. I agree entirely. However the Tories have no desire to make Wales anything at all, least of all a ‘country’. A former source of cheap labour and raw materials (is there’s anything left by now), and latterly I assume they see it as a nice location for one’s country seat. Not much of a choice really. If all Plaid can do is hold the balance of power then they’re pretty well damned whichever way they choose to jump. A truly sad state of affairs. Can you see a way forward, Jac?

    1. As I have said many times, the only hope is for Plaid Cymru to radically reform itself, or for a new party to emerge. There are no alternatives.

      Though taking the wider view, the future constitutional status of Wales may be determined by events outside of Wales. This seems more and more likely, given that the ‘national’ party here is so weak . . . at the very time when Wales needs a strong voice.

      Something else I have said for many years is that I believe Plaid Cymru was ‘compromised’ decades ago, and at the highest level. A weak and ineffectual ‘national’ party being the sole expression of Welsh nationalism is the perfect outcome for those behind the plot.

      1. “A weak and ineffectual ‘national’ party being the sole expression of Welsh nationalism is the perfect outcome for those behind the plot.”
        To create a kind of ‘safety valve’ to siphon off the Nats while everyone else gets on with ‘business as usual’ ?

        1. Exactly. But Plaid Cymru is now becoming so discredited, seen by more and more people to be utterly useless, that its role as a ‘safety valve’ becomes increasingly difficult to maintain. Plaid Cymru has now reached the point where many of its own members have given up on the party. So I predict – solely to serve its masters’ purpose – Plaid Cymru will soon become more radical and more Welsh. Because if it doesn’t, then a new party, or some other form of expressing discontent, will emerge. That inescapable fact is clear to all, from uninvolved observers like me to those pulling the strings.

          1. Brychan

            The problem with a ‘safety valve’ is that if the control mechanism fails, you get an explosion.

  3. Anonymous

    Will Plaid Cymru really take Llanelli ?

    There must be almost as good a chance that UKIP will take Llanelli. Which way this falls depends on the candidates and campaign, but I think Labour will lose Llanelli.

    Plaid Cymru fail understand the very basics of party politics. They have just witnessed a Tory/Lib Dem coalition in Westminster from 2005-2010, and been given a stark reminder of what happens to the junior partners in Coalitions..

    It’s very simple. If a Coalition is successful, the larger party gets all the credit. It it is unsuccessful, the smaller party gets all the blame.

    And Plaid Cymru have surely been given the most emphatic demonstration of this just a month ago in the fate of the Westminster LibDems.

    Labour need to lose power at the Assembly elections, as they are tired and have lost their way, and need to re-juvenate themselves in opposition. This is just a statement of what a properly functioning democracy is. All governing parties need to lose power at some point in a healthy democracy.

    Wales isn’t a properly functioning democracy, as there is no credible party or group of parties that Labour can lose power to.

    So, a fundamental realignment of Welsh politics will have to happen, if not in 2016, then in 2021 or 2026.

    1. Llanelli is a difficult one to call. It could be argued that in 2011 Plaid losing to Labour by just 80 votes was down to Siân Caiach and her 2,004 votes. (There was no Ukip candidate.) But in the general election last month Plaid was over 7,000 votes behind Labour, with Ukip some 2,600 votes behind Plaid. Siân Caiach got just 407 votes, but if she stands for the Assembly next year she’s guaranteed to get more.

      So with Ukip taking votes from Labour and Plaid, Siân Caiach taking votes from Plaid, and Labour making the most of an unpopular Tory government in London, I don’t see how Plaid can win Llanelli next year.

  4. Ian Perryman

    I think the threat from UKIP is overstated. They benefited in the General Election from years of free national (i.e. English) media publicity beforehand. That won’t happen for the Welsh elections.
    Their party organisation in Wales is almost non-existent, and where it exists is riven by dissent and disarray.
    For example, at one time, apparently, their Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, candidate was considering suing her own party.

    1. The threat from Ukip may be dissipating, then again, by next May we’ll be talking a lot more about the In / Out EU referendum, which is bound to breathe new life into the beast. Another factor is that the Assembly election is regarded as less important than the Westminster election (and marginally more ‘serious’ than the EU election), which means that more people will be inclined to think, ‘What the hell . . . ?’

        1. YBarddCwsc

          UKIP are amateurish in their organisation and candidate selection.

          Barely an election goes by without some UKIP candidate making a truly ridiculous statement — like tooth decay is caused by excessive sexual freedom or domestic cats are responsible for earthquakes.

          An efficiently functioning and seriously motivated party would sort candidate selection out once and for all, so that these kind of semi-deranged people are not chosen.

          Farage himself does have some charisma. He has managed to take a party that was nowhere and position it so it got just under 4 million votes in the general election. He has a bloke-ish, no-nonsense wit.

          (I personally don’t like Farage, and think he is a shouty crackers, but it would be idle to deny his achievements are impressive).

          If UKIP really did get their act together and really ran a community-based, populist, socially conservative campaign, they could wipe out Labour in the South Wales Valleys.

          But, with Nathan Gill and Mark Reckless at the helm, UKIP won’t.

          I think it is possible, with an exceptionally good local candidate against an exceptionally poor Labour donkey, UKIP could take a Valleys constituency or two in 2016. But, this is less likely than it was a month ago.

        2. Q. “Somewhere just the other side of Slough, isn’t it?”

          Seriously I find it un-bloody-believable that any Welshman, especially from the Valleys, would vote for a pack of such very metropolitan English carpetbaggers, presumably with the values that go with the accent. Perhaps we should feel sorry for the poor things, think of the sever culture shock they’re in for.

          A. “Mate, if I were going to Wales I really wouldn’t start from here …”

        3. Thanks for the link, I hadn’t seen that interview before. Poor Leanne, she was struggling. I hadn’t seen the interviewer before, perhaps you should invite her to lead the party, she came over as a lot sharper than LW.

          I agree with the remarks above over the need for a Salmond type to clear the ground. You can’t sue for peace until you’ve won the war.

          The overall impression was of PC as the dependency party, hardly inspiring. A great pity. But I don’t really understand the underlying reasons. Other small countries around Europe are successful, what went wrong for Wales?

          1. YBarddCwsc

            “Other small countries around Europe are successful, what went wrong for Wales?”

            I think your outlook is unduly bleak.

            Remember 2000-2004 in Scotland.

            Salmond stood down in 2000, Swinney took over; the SNP were in serious electoral difficulties; poor performance in the 2001 General Election and 2003 Scottish elections; worst ever result in the Euros for the SNP in 2004; the Scottish Parliament building (opened in 2004) widely reviled because of massive cost over-runs; devolution discredited.

            It all looks very, very different in Scotland now, but that was only a decade ago.

            The same turnaround can happen in Wales, once someone with the verve and confidence and fighting spirit of Salmond is identified.

            FFS, Plaid Cymru have been shown what to do. Salmond has shown them.

            Surely they can follow it.

            1. That’s what I would have thought but it hasn’t happened (yet). I really hope it does.

              The danger is that even if Scotland escapes the UK, or perhaps especially if it does, a right-wing Westminster government will think, “enough of this nonsense” and simply close Welsh devolution down. Either directly, or more likely by restricting the Assembly’s powers, or giving it ‘powers’ that are ineffective or in practise unusable. The idea being that Cardiff is then perceived by the public as being more powerful than it really is so that it gets all the blame when things go wrong. After a time, public opinion would be ‘shepherded’ by the media into demanding that the assembly be shut down due to its waste and inefficiency. The long-term goal would of course be the complete anglicisation of Wales, to relegate Welsh identity to a romantic historic haze (always good to attract a few foreign tourists). And if you want to see what this means, just come down to Cornwall.

              The hope otoh is that Wales might be dragged along in Scotland’s slipstream as it were, and the failure of the referendum does allow a little longer for that to happen. But if so PC (or a successor party) will have to get its act together pdq lest it be left standing while Scotland shoots off after her destiny.

              Scotland’s size, it’s physical near separation from England, it’s distance from London, and the fact that it has been an independent state in early modern times and still has a lot of the constitutional infrastructure in place (law and various institutions) all make it relatively easy to project the concept of an inclusive ‘civic nationalism’.

              For Wales the struggle is more uphill. A long and almost arbitrary border with the West Midlands, even the West coast within easy reach of Liverpool, Brum etc. The need to establish almost all the machinery of Welsh government and associated institutions pretty much from scratch. Even the location of the Assembly in one corner of Wales with easier access to Bristol etc than to most parts of Wales. (Glyndŵr knew better!)

              Then add to all that the cultural dimension. The fact that traditionally Welsh identity has been associated with language, but with a language that has been retreating rapidly over the past century and is probably still on the wane. This tends to fuel a kind of ‘sub-racist’ nationalism, rather than Scotland’s ‘open door’ policy of “if you live here and join in the project then you’re a Scot”.

              Part if this is understandable. When a language or a culture more generally finds itself under threat, as Welsh identity certainly is, then the natural tendency is to close ranks, adopt a siege mentality and ‘repel borders’. This makes it difficult to recruit immigrants to balance all the locals who head for England and beyond. It may also act as a block to the acceptability of new ideas some at least of which might be quite useful, even compatible with traditional Welsh culture if properly ‘translated’.

              Perhaps that’s why this blog both fascinates and annoys me. Jac’s antipathy to e.g. the Greens, or to many of English society’s ‘victims’. In the past Welsh society was strong enough and generous enough to welcome incomers and turn them into Welshmen/women. A matter of confidence, I suppose. Now there’s a definite streak of xenophobia that surfaces from time to time, hardly different from some of the attitudes of UKIP. Once you go off on that tangent you end up having debates over who’s really Welsh and who not, “more Welsh than thou” attitudes etc. All divisive and likely to get in the way of a Scottish-style ‘civic nationalism’ which is probably the only practical type in present day Europe with freedom of movement etc.

              I’m not trying to take the piss here. I think these are serious and difficult questions, and I sincerely hope that someone is clever enough and open enough to find answers.

              Here endeth the rant.

            2. dafis

              Your “rant” is mostly spot on, but that penultimate para starting with “Perhaps that’s why this blog both fascinates and annoys me……” shows how you are missing a key point in Jac’s stance which is shared to varying degrees by lots of us who visit this debating chamber.

              Antipathy is justified when one identifies a range of elements that are either actively or passively importing values and behaviours that undermine what’s left of our identity, culture, language, rights, financial/ economic viability etc.
              I wish we could be more welcoming to English society’s victims but the agencies that bring them here foster a variety of hostile values in many of these people. It’s evidently alright not to bother with the native language, keep sucking out benefits, and let’s “hope” that you don’t deal drugs, steal or mug anyone after that nice residential course we sent you on.

              Then you have the middle aged retired types who escape to Wales to get away from a variety of immigrants who’ve arrived in England, believing ( quite sincerely ) that they in turn have every right to impose their culture & values on the native communities here. And now we have a political party, UKIP, that thrives on that message of justifiable superiority.

              It’s not about who’s Welsh and who isn’t, though it may sound like that to a distant ear. Take the example of Mike Parker – came to Wales, spent time integrating and is now an active advocate. Sadly however in the minority. Contrast that with the experience of historical migrations into the West of Wales ( and possibly other parts ) as recent as 40’s to 60’s when refugees, evacuees and other voluntary migrants settled in Ceredigion and North Carms and acquired some fluency in the language and integrated into their communities. And these were by and large less well educated than the current incomers. I heard a few of them recently express their disgust and embarrasment at the attitudes of recent arrivals.

              If we elect to lie down and let these dysfunctionals, good lifers and white flighters carry on unremarked we can look forward to a very early demise. As things stand that may be our fate anyway, as our law makers and those who manage a variety of services seem to be content with creating an environment where any native values are most unwelcome unless they coincide with those of the new arrivals.

              And there ends my rant !

            3. dafis

              Can’t see a Welsh version of Salmond in the party – or am I looking at it from the wrong angle ?

              Whole thing looks topsy turvy right now, full of Labour lookalikes, public sector/ 3rd sector personalities & jargon, “inclusive”spiel, etc. PC seems to be heading straight for a clapped out corporate state model yet have no idea how to run the bloody thing and don’t seem to have learned from history that such a sytem is unlikely ever to work

  5. YBarddCwsc

    “Labour 26 seats (-4), Conservative 17 (+3), Ukip 7 (+7), Plaid Cymru 7 (-4), Lib Dems 2 (-2), Greens 1 (+1).”

    If Labour were offered this now, they’d take it with both hands.

    To have been in power since the Assembly was established, to have presided over some disastrous results in health, education and poverty eradication, and still only lose 4 seats !! Remarkable !!

    I think the local government reorganisation may actually cause the final result to be somewhat worse for Labour.

    And I think the decisions taken by the Westminster Tory Government will probably have taken the shine off the Welsh Tories creditable performance in the election. The Tories should be entering the standard mid-term trough of Westminster Governing parties by then, so I doubt they’ll gain +3 — they’ll do really well to stand still.

    So, I expect that UKIP, Plaid Cymru, the LibDems and Greens may collectively do somewhat better than this prediction.

    I did think UKIP would do very well, but I see they have appointed a Welsh expert from Rochester & Strood, Mark Reckless, as their Director of Policy Development.

    Someone more wholly unsuitable for the role it would be hard to imagine.

    1. I don’t think local government reorganisation will play much of a part. Those kicking up a fuss are Labour councillors. It’s the turkeys and Christmas syndrome.

      As for the Tories, I’m not sure that the policies they’ll introduce will lose them support among their committed voters.

      Looking at your other predictions, Seeing as the Greens won’t win a constituency, the very most they can get is two regional seats. Lib Dems are in free-fall, and there are two possibilities. Kirsty Williams loses Brecon & Radnor, which will probably give them two regional seats. If she holds on, then it’ll be one regional seat. Ukip will not win a constituency, but they will pick up regional seats all over the country, and the big loser from this will be Plaid Cymru.

      1. Daley Gleephart

        You say that the Kippers will not win a Constituency seat but reckon that they’ll get 7 seats. How? To get 2 seats in a region a Party must have over twice the numbers of votes of the Party that gets the second regional seat to stand a chance. The d’Hondt system: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6CU3F3ToIIg
        Bear in mind, with the Welsh Assembly there are Constituency seats.
        If a Party has 1 Constituency seat, their Regional List total is divided by 2.
        If a Party has 2 Constituency seats, their Regional List total is divided by 3.
        … and so on before it comes to the Regional seat allocation.
        That’s why a Party with many Constituency seats fairs badly when it comes to Regional seats.

        1. You are splitting hairs now, lovely boy, and showing off a bit! Maybe I over-estimated the number of Ukip AMs, but what I’m saying is that they will not win a constituency, but they will get a good regional vote and that this vote will be fairly evenly spread. So it may be six regional AMs, or even five, time alone will tell.

          I’ve just looked at the video you linked to, I’m not sure it’s relevant. The video is for Euro elections, where there are no constituencies as such. The Assembly election’s regional allocation is influenced by how many constituency seats a party wins. Which is why I’m predicting a goodly number of regional AMs for the Kippers.

          1. Daley Gleephart

            If you read what I’ve posted after the video link, you’ll see that I have mentioned how the Assembly Regional List differs from the European elections.
            What usually happens in the Assembly elections is Labour wins so many Constituency seats that they have little to no hope of gaining any Regional seats. If Labour wins 3 Constituency seats, their Regional List vote is divided by 4.

            1. Okay, I wasn’t paying attention. But I don’t think it really changes what I said as the Kippers are not going to win a constituency seat. Ergo they will do well in the regional allocation.

  6. The Earthshaker

    Fair play for keeping interest in Plaid Cymru, I’m not sure they’ve quite reached rock bottom, but when they’re being openly mocked by Rhodri Morgan, they must be close http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/opinions/rhodri-morgan-ukip-is-more-of-a-danger-than-plaid

    And life also throws up some unusual bedfellows Gwynoro Jones the former Labour MP who beat Gwynfor Evans agrees with you, he’s called it a big mistake for Leanne Wood to give Labour such a boost by declaring her intentions so early on in his new blog http://gwynorojones.blogspot.co.uk/2015/06/ghost-of-summers-pasta-tale-of-welsh.html

    I’m also smiling at the wishful thinking on UKIP, I hate everything they stand for, but those hoping they’ll disappear in puff of smoke show little understanding of why they’re gaining votes and might be ahead of Plaid Cymru in votes if not seats again. A hint it’s not only down to better origination or mass media expose which they’ll get again in the run up to the next Assembly elections.

    This far out it’s hard to make predictions but Labour might get as many as 28 seats despite thier pitiful record and another Lib Dem coalition could be on the cards, that would leave Plaid Cymru even more isolated in opposition with the Tories and UKIP, could Leanne Wood go down as the leader who destroyed the party?

    I bet Labour are laughing to themselves after this ‘intervention’ the opposing is weak and divided and doing Labour job for them, added to what’s kept them afloat and where they differ from their Scottish counterparts is they do eventually learn, adapt and make cosmetic changes that the ever gullible welsh electorate falls for at elections, things are looking up in Transport House already.

    1. People are right to say that Ukip is to some extent a creation of the media, but wrong to say that they will now start fading away. The whole point of Ukip is getting out of the EU, and we will soon be entering a period of re-negotiation and then the build-up to the referendum, so Ukip is guaranteed much more publicity before next May’s Assembly election.

      Someone on Twitter, @BRETTEDWARDJOHN, directed me to this video where, some 23 minutes in, Leanne Wood seems to be suggesting a Plaid minority government next year! http://j.mp/1g26lHE

      1. The Earthshaker

        Christ almightily the interview is beyond parody, to be in with a chance of a minority government Plaid would need at least 26 to 28 seats, they currently have 11, where are the extra 15 to 17 extra seats gonna come from because tonight’s ITV Wales/YouGov poll has Plaid Cymru on 10 seats and your 7 seat prediction for UKIP isn’t fanciful the latest poll predicts 8 for them http://www.itv.com/news/wales/2015-06-29/ukip-remain-on-course-for-assembly-breakthrough/

  7. YBarddCwsc

    I think looking at Scotland is instructive.

    The SNP first took the Tory seats. Salmond played the pivotal role here, his fighting for Scotland going down well in even affluent parts like Angus & Perth. Then, Sturgeon took the Labour seats.

    Sturgeon could not have done what she did, without Salmond putting her in such an excellent position to do it. Equally, Salmond could never have put SNP tanks all over Glasgow, he could not have done what Sturgeon did.

    I am not as negative about Leanne as some, I think she could play the role that Sturgeon did in Scotland very effectively.

    Leanne’s problem is that she has not had an Alex Salmond to do the preparatory work, to take the Tory seats like Aberconwy and Clwyd West, to put the party in a good position in the first place for her to attack the Valleys seats.

    Salmond is a good politician, but he has made a lot of mistakes (like cosying up to Fred the Shred or Rupe). But, the mistakes haven’t mattered. The point about Salmond is he always fights for the best for Scotland, and so he gets the benefit of the doubt from many Scots.

    Plaid really need a figure like Salmond.

    Plaid need someone whose is less motivated by ideology, but simply willing to fight and fight hard to get the best deal for Wales in any situation.

    1. The more affluent parts of Wales tend to be the least Welsh. It wouldn’t matter who led Plaid Cymru, there are parts of Wales now deaf and blind to anything ‘Welsh’.

  8. E Jenkins

    YBarddCwsc
    Problem with this analysis is that whereas Angus & Perth are overwhelmingly Scottish, Aberconwy and Clwyd West are far from being overwhelmingly Welsh. Indeed, many if not most of the Tory voters in these Welsh constituencies hail from England. Rather hard to win these over to the cause of Welsh independence.

    1. YBarddCwsc

      “Problem with this analysis is that whereas Angus & Perth are overwhelmingly Scottish, Aberconwy and Clwyd West are far from being overwhelmingly Welsh. Indeed, many if not most of the Tory voters in these Welsh constituencies hail from England. Rather hard to win these over to the cause of Welsh independence.”

      But, Salmond didn’t win the voters in Angus and Perth over to the cause of Scottish independence. They were two of the biggest No areas.

      Salmond did win them over to the idea of voting for the SNP in both Holyrood & Westminster.

      There is no reason why Aberconwy or Clwyd West can’t be won over to the idea of voting for Plaid Cymru.

      Many of the things that Jac highlights in this blog — the export of sociopaths to Wales, the increasing costs to the Welsh NHS when elderly people retire here, the decay of towns like Rhyl used as a dumping ground by Liverpool and Manchester, the lack of economic opportunities, poor transport links — are of concern for all the residents of North Wales.

      Salmond’s gift was to make a big SNP tent and fill it with all manner of Scots (defined very broadly as people who live in Scotland).

      Plaid Cymru’s tent has always remained very small.

        1. dafis

          wrong there, Jac. It’s big, but full of the wrong messages and the hot air machine takes up so much space that you can’t get any people in there even if they wanted to join up !!

  9. dafis

    Brutally blunt, but the Assembly’s sitting members are a real shower – a cross section of Wales at its worst ! To date the declared candidates from any party don’t inspire me to anticipate the next 60 raising their game much if at all. On a good day a fistful of this lot might muster enough juice to get a light bulb fired up but would’nt keep it lit for long.

    I appreciate that Plaid is the main concern because of what we are, but their prospects are ebbing away, evidenced by UKIP taking votes off Labour by the bucket full in early May in some places while Plaid will be up there to be knocked down in others.

    I’m mystified/horrified that there isn’t the slightest hint of a shift away from the wishy washy, soft pink ” friends with everyone” , “markets don’t work” mindset. Carry on like this and they will be openly corporate statist, not open for business, with everybody picking up a worthless paycheque from the Bay for working in a 3rd sector initiative/ cooperative. But it won’t happen cos someone else will have been voted in with an equally daft wet mix of half baked ideological crap, and the London mob will have its financial knickers in a knot because of the Scots and will need to cut everybody else’s handout.

  10. dafis

    you commented on the side bar about the Confederate flag. My only regret is that the US didn’t have the nuts to get rid of it over 100 years ago. Shows what a sham they are ! It wasn’t a flag that killed those people in Charleston, it was a gun. Will they ever get round to even discussing some sort of gun control ?. Not while I have an arsenal scattered around my house said Uncle Sam !. Duplicious bastards the lot of them.

    1. From a Welsh perspective there a few of ways of looking at this recent upsurge in liberal self-righteousness.

      First, as I say, there is no question that the Confederate flag is waved by racists . . . so is the Union flag, the Cross of St. George, the French Tricolour, etc., etc. Even the Stars and Stripes. Do we ban them all?

      The Confederate flag is a ‘regional’ flag, just like ours, and the Saltire, the Basque, Breton and Catalan flags. Banning it could be seen as a way of dealing with ‘regional’ loyalty. I can recall the Ddraig Goch and the Glyndwr flag being described as ‘racist’, even banned from the Millennium Stadium.

      This flag is obviously the flag of Southern whites . . . who are overwhelmingly Republican. The fact that the attacks on this flag come mainly from Democrats is entirely coincidental. There is no cheap, political dimension to this campaign. No, sireee.

      Whatever we may think, or be told to think, Southern white identity is largely founded on the Civil War, and their ancestors who fought under this flag. Few of those men were, or wished to be, slave-owners. They fought because their state, their country, had seceded and was threatened with invasion.

      1. Daley Gleephart

        Bear in mind that many who fought on the side of the Confederates in the US Civil War were conscripts. Those able bodied men who had more than 20 slaves were exempt from military duty.

        1. It’s all very complicated, with many vested interests wishing to misrepresent the situation. Let’s take the case of Robert E. Lee, the South’s most famous commander.

          When the states of the Lower South seceded, Lee was offered command of the Union armies. He refused to commit until he knew what his native state of Virginia would do. When Virginia seceded, Lee became a Confederate general. Before going off to war he freed his slaves.

          Lee was not fighting in defence of slavery, Lee was fighting for his native state, as were most of the Southern soldiers. In 1861, with poor communications, the USA was not a ‘fully-formed’ country, people’s loyalty was their native state, which they regarded as their ‘country’. The USA was a constitutional abstraction that meant little to most people, North or South.

          But of course the ultimate hypocrisy was that under the US Constitution any state had the right to secede. (As, theoretically, did the Republics of the USSR.) But as we know, democratic theory and Realpolitik are two very different animals.

          1. dafis

            my parting shot on that rebel flag is that it isn’t “regional” – it may have been 1861 -65, but after defeat of the South the flag was adopted by those people who were unwilling to recognise defeat meant change ( albeit very slow ! ) i.e people who still cherished the old staus quo – when slave ownership was part of the deal. Those people exist all over the USA especially the reclusive militia/ fundementalist/ supremacist communities living in remote rural areas. These are the same nut jobs who think that gun laws are the most serious attack on their human rights. Bit like some of those folks that Parker knows in backwoods Ceredigion.

          2. Daley Gleephart

            Like all wars, the enemy is portrayed as evil doers hungry to rape, murder, pillage and burn. Then there’s the religious call to fight for God, King and Country or God, Kaiser and Country or God, the Republic and Country etc.

            As for Robert E. Lee, there are some who aren’t as generous as you.

  11. Brychan

    Can Plaid Cymru take Rhondda ?

    It’s within grasp. Over the past few months the party machine has been doing some excellent work and has been invigorated by the performance of Shelley Rees-Owen in the Westminster elections. 27% of the vote, up 9%. The vote share was same as Ceredigion which was meant to be a winner for Plaid. In Rhondda the Ukip challenge didn’t dent the Plaid vote at all, and just took votes away from Labour.

    Now here’s the rub. Plaid is taking on Labour hammer-and-tongs in both valleys and now Leanne is the candidate for the Senedd, even in the Fach the recent campaigning is bearing fruit. She can’t however, say she’s the alternative to Labour on the doorstep and then go into coalition with Labour in the Bae. She has ruled out a coalition with the Tories, so she must now rule out any formal coalition with Labour. Otherwise support for Plaid will evaporate. Voters want Labour evicted.

    1. Colin

      Trouble is, Labour, Conservatives, Liberals and UKIP are all UK/Englandshire biased. Plaid are the only viable Cymru biased party out there no matter what we might think of them. I would like to see Jac’s comment on Plaid becoming a bit more nationalistic and robust come true, it all looks a bit depressing otherwise to me

    2. What she seems to be saying in this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0NlGVuuOaj8&app=desktop (23 mins in) is that she’d prefer not to go into coalition with Labour, and she talks of the position of the SNP after the 2007 election, which left them the biggest party and they virtually took control. But Plaid will not be in that position in May 2016. They will be the party in either third or fourth place. So I agree with you, the best way of improving Plaid’s chances in the Rhondda, and elsewhere, is to rule out a coalition with Labour. More than that, the party needs to go on the attack. But there are too many in Plaid who just can’t be nasty to kindred-spirits in a fellow socialist party.

  12. Anonymous

    Ruling out any coalition with the Tories means that the perennial plea of Labour to the electorate – You must vote for us or the “nasty Tories” will get into power; is effectively throttled. Then in Labour held constituencies it becomes a straight choice between two left of center parties. It makes it much easier for traditional Labour voters to switch to Plaid Cymru.
    I’d suggest that for many right leaning Welsh identifying voters this left wing option will be a turn off whether it’s from a Welsh or British nationalist origin. I’d also suggest that conditions won’t be conducive for a right of center Welsh nationalist party of any consequence to gain support until a left of center Welsh nationalist party or parties have a hegemony of governing Wales.

  13. Llantrisant

    I’m a nationalist and the last thing I want is another Labour government in Wales I don’t care who takes over next year as long as it’s not Labour. If Plaid only win 7 seats as you predict next year could this finally be the wake up they need and also to remove Lenin Wood from the leadership? The results on may the 8th should have been the wake up they couldn’t even take Ceredigion off the imploding Lib Dems!

  14. A Black

    The Plaid comeback has started, up 27% in the Pentyrch by election, so it’s only up from here

    1. Jason Morgan

      Pentyrch was a damned good result for Plaid Cymru, but it was like Ynys Môn in 2013 – strong campaign and strong local candidate.

      Anyone who thinks it has any more significance than that is an idiot.

  15. Sion

    I helped out in Pentyrch and the surge was down to having a good candidate supported by a dozen or so people knocking on every door and delivering multiple leaflets to every home in the ward. It was a good effort but I don’t think Plaid nationally can read too much into this.

  16. Llew

    We have to admit that Leanne Wood is coming at politics from an opposite direction to Jac and this blog. As are her supporters.

    She could not work with the Tories. She is being honest and defusing that. It’s Labour’s main tactic. I don’t feel like Plaid Cymru can copy the SNP but this is one thing that the SNP has also always ruled out as well.

    I won’t buy this idea that she supports Labour. She is mounting a strong challenge to one of their Ministers and will take them on robustly.

    She literally appears to be the joint most popular politician in Wales. Unfortunately she is tied with Carwyn Jones. But that shows that its Labour “soft nationalists” who need to be won over to Plaid. But you need to expose Labour to convince them its not worth voting for. Working with the Tories does NOT do that and people commenting this blog should in my opinion admit that.

    She doesn’t share your politics and that’s fine. But she IS taking on a “top” Labour Minister, and I believe she could win. If you disagree with the politics that’s fair enough but Plaid Cymru’s problems stem from before Leanne Wood. Just my five cents!

  17. Clayton Jones

    LLEW- Have you ever played porker please ? If so, you will know never to show your cards – its exactly what the Leader has done – completely wrecking any positive post election negotiations if required. With Lord Thomas still on board , I believe Labour will be drinking champagne well before the election . If the MEMBERSHIP change Plaid’s direction pre- election and the leader post -election there is still a window of opportunity.

    1. Anonymous

      It’s not a game of poker.
      The only place Plaid can pick up significant numbers of votes is from current Labour voters.
      Those whose support for Labour is wavering and are potential Plaid voters want to see Plaid’s “cards”.
      Being coy isn’t an option. Plaid showing their “cards” has p1issed two groups off.
      The Labour party who now can’t run scare stories of a Plaid – Nasty Tories coalition.
      The Tory party who now know they won’t get near to government in the Senedd in any form.

      1. I can’t agree. There is a substantial number of people in Wales looking for a viable alternative – or any alternative – to Labour. This explains the Ukip vote last year in normally staunch Labour areas such as Blaenau Gwent, Merthyr, Swansea, Wrecsam, Flintshire, Caerffili, Newport, Torfaen, And this year in Blaenau Gwent and Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney Labour won but Tories and Ukip did better than Plaid.

        So you’re wrong to say that “the only place Plaid can pick up significant numbers of votes is from current Labour voters”. There are a few hundred thousand voters who don’t want :Labour, and nor do they really want Tories or Ukip, but they still find these two parties more attractive than Plaid. (And don’t disregard the non-voters.) One reason for that may be that they fear Plaid will do a deal with Labour and keep a minority Labour administration in power. Which it will.

        If Plaid is serious about emulating the SNP it must be ambitious, it must say, ‘No deal with Labour, we want to rule alone’, otherwise Plaid will remain the fourth party in Wales.

        1. Clayton Jones

          I believe Mr/Ms anonymous could be a Labour plant – Plaid can only win on financial credibility ,innovation ,reasonable policies and a change to its constitution. Plaid has spent thirty years trying to be more Labour than Labour ,the result – our leader States the General Election result could have been worse – She dreams as does your anonymous contributor .

  18. Anonymous

    UKIP had huge coverage in the UK media and press for the two years leading up to the European and General elections however I suspect that for Welsh identifiers their vote is soft. Discontent with Labour in Cardiff and the cultivation of the NHS “Border of death” idea by the Conservatives boosted the Tory vote by Welsh identifiers but again I suspect that that vote is pretty soft also. It fact generally the electorate’s vote seems to be getting softer so there is much to be gained or lost.
    In an ideal world perhaps parties wouldn’t declare who they would work with before an election, but that situation relies on an electorate who are comfortable with and understand the machinations and outcomes that coalition politics brings. I think that the fate of the LibDems at the general election indicates that the electorate is still grappling with the concept.
    When I said “significant” it means the most votes. therefore the most Senedd seats. I think Plaid’s chances of picking up votes is greater in the Welsh identifying Labour and soft Labour who voted UKIP or Tory at the General election than anywhere else.
    To me Plaid’s strategy regarding declaring who they will not work with looks a good one. Of course it remains to be seen how they now play it from here. Potentially it enables those Labour voters who are dissatisfied with Labour to vote for an alternative party that they can be confident won’t give the dastardly Tories the key to the castle. Also for dissatisfied soft UKIP and Tory voters voting Plaid would be the most effective way to give Labour a kick up the backside.

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