Thursday, 15 December 2011

Plaid Runner and Riders.

 sNews that Leanne Wood, has become the fourth Plaid Cymru AM to enter the race for the party leadership, will delight a number of people in Wales not just those who are Plaid members


She will look for backing when nominations open in the new year. But I doubt that she would not have made her announcement  if she wasn't sure of receiving it.


I doubt if any other candidate will throw their hat in the ring, as it is now  a pretty crowded field.


So what I do I think of those who have put their names forward


Dafydd Elis Thomas


Pros.
  • Highly experienced has led the Party in the past.
  • His role has Presiding Officer has helped to cement the Assembly in the Welsh psyche.
  • Can deal with hostile interviewers with aplomb
  • In this capacity can make the most outrages statement seem plausible.
  • Can appeal to those who are worried about the Independence issue by appealing for more gradual approach.
  • Has a safe constituency seat so is not subject  to the "Bourne effect" where a rise in Plaid seats means the loss of topup ones
  • Welsh speaking.
Cons.
  • Will be nearly 69 by the time of the next Assembly Election  and though age should not be a factor . Members will probably be looking for a younger leader
  • It would seem strange for a former gamekeeper (Presiding Officer ) to  turn poacher ( Party leader)
  • Can be petulant  when challenged..
  • Often gives the impression of shooting from the hip and seaming a bit of a maverick
  • Has long .alienated the Right-Wing of the party and now has probably done the same to his former Left supporters.
  • The stronger emphasis by the Party on Independence and his disquiet may well work against him.


Simon Thomas
Pros.
  • Despite being a new AM has Parliamentary experience which may give him a bit more gravitas
  • Has long been spouted as a potential leaders by commentators outside the party.
  • As D.E.T's, recent statements on Independence may align with those worried about a fundamentalist approach
  • Affable and intelligent preforms does well in interviews.
  • Despite his Ceredigion connexions. His Aberdare upbringing might help to appeal to Valley supporters and voters.
  • Speaks Welsh.Indeed learned it (always goes down well)
Cons.
  • Lost the Cerdigion seat  in 2001 and there was clearly some disquiet he did not fight it again in 2010
  • Like D.E.T unless he explains his position clearly on the Independence issue he may well lose support.
  • Represent a regional seat and is particularly vulnerable to the Bourne effect and therfore if Plaid won Llanelli  and Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire  then could well fail to be elected  (Though he could stand possibly in latter if polls show the party gaining support there)
Elin Jones
Pros.
  • Has represented Cerdigion in the assembly since the Assembly was formed and has always given a good account of herself
  • Being leader will almost surley mean he Constituency seat will be safe.
  • Was a particularly effective Minister in the Lab-Plaid coalition and received plaudits from the farming Lobby
  • This included having the courage to agree on a Badger Cull against much opposition so will be seen s as  not afraid to make unpopular (in some quarters) decisions.
  • Speaks Welsh fluently and will  appeal to cultural nationalist.
Cons.
  • The failure to implement the Badger cull and it very idea will count against her in some quarters.
  • Does not have any seeming connection with the South Wales Valleys could be seen as only representing Rural interestand Plaids comfort Zone.
  • Needs to improve her performance in English Interviews sometime can be seen to be Umming and Arring.
Leanne Wood
 Pros.
  • Experienced and has a certain Charisma 
  • May manage to express the Independence issue in away that will appeal well beyond purely Nationalist sentiments.
  • Although representing a Regional Topup seat any Plaid would have to do exceptionally well for her to experience the Bourne effect.
  • Will appeal to the Left and Republican wings of the Party.
  • Will appeal to those who feel Plaid should concentrate on raising its vote in the South Wales Valleys.
  • May well appeal to dissatisfied Labour voters and indeed some of their party  activist.
  • Has already seemed to have received the support of Jonathan Edwards and may be able to get Adam Prices backing.Could be seen as Plaid's Nicola Sturgeon to Price's Alex Salmond.
  • Will be seen a new start for the Party breaking away from its  Y Fro Cymreig comfort zone
Cons.
  • Her Left wing and republican views will be attacked mercilessly by the Media and all the other other political parties (including Labour).
  • Will probably not appeal to traditional and more Right-Wing voters.
  • Could be seen as only keeping the seat warm for Adam  Price .
  • Would be the first Plaid Leader not fluent in Welsh
As the Leadership election progress I'm sure the  Pros and Cons for all will change but I think todays announcement by Leanne Wood will lead to a more exiting and certainly  more open election .


With the Leader to be announced in March I'm sure Plaid will be hoping that this will galvanise the membership and hopefully carry on the effect into the next election.

4 comments:

  1. Good verditc Glyn.

    DET needs to decide if he's a Coleg Harlech lecturer or leader of a nationalist party. After all, this should be in the bag for him for the reasons you've outlined, but he seems to have gone out of his way not so much to create a debate and shake people from their comfort zone but just to alienate them for no strategic reason.

    Elin Jones - can she sell herself as a Plaid Cymru 'Angela Merkel'? Maybe, but years of getting into the Cynog Dafis 'looks and presentation aren't important' mind-set which afflicted Simon Thomas too, may have left it too late for her to 'rebrand' herself, although, she is the safest pair of hands who also supports independence.

    Simon - again, he's got good points, but losing Ceredigion is a problem for him.

    Leanne - does she really want to be Leader? My guess is that she got into the Assembly and decided her rôle/position was to be the left wing republican conscience in the same way as maybe some Eurosceptic members of the Tory party think or left wingers in Labour think of their historic position. That's an honourable and good decision to take and gives the member freedom of thought and is an important contribution to the party and national life. The difficulty is in changing from that position and mind-set to becoming a leader. What will she do during the state opening of the Assembly or, if she was FM, and there was a PCS strike held to oppose her policies, would she break the strike? Does she really want to be leader? She's gained a lot of interest and support by language activists who admire her commitment to the language and by left wingers. So, she's popular. She's also a fighter, which is what Plaid needs too.

    I think it's all too close to call and a lot of people, the majority, will make up their minds during the hustings debates.

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  2. Useful summary, NL. Agree with your comments. Perhaps having the press and Labour attack Leanne would actually be a good thing because it would at least be publicity and may also highlight how vacuous and similar Labour and the Tories are. Point of fact: Simon Thomas held Ceredigion in 2001. It was in 2005 that he lost it. His vote went down as against Cynog's when he was first elected in the by-election and again in 2001. The writing was already on the wall and he should not have lost the seat.

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  3. I think you're being far too generous to DET. His influence within and beyond the party is corrosive.

    I'm glad that Leanne is standing, and I'm pretty sure she'll have my support when the time comes.

    It's time for Plaid to decide what its priorities are if it is to have any hope of making the type of breakthrough which the SNP has done. It has to make it clear to all of us in Wales that it is a national party first and foremost, regardless of language.

    The issue has dogged Plaid ever since its inception in the 1920s, and has resulted in the perception by a large swathe of the population that it is a Welsh Language party. To what extent the reality is true or not is a matter of debate. In any case the issue has to be put beyond doubt.

    What is not in doubt is the fact that nearly 80% of the population is not Welsh-speaking. I feel the party must make a fundamental break with the past in that respect.

    The election of Leanne as its leader could be a first step in that direction. The party needs re-branding, and I don't simply mean a new logo. It needs to look at its name, which for non-Welsh speakers regrettably can be off-putting, and gives the wrong impression.

    It says it is the national party of Wales...well its time it acted like one.

    As a native Welsh speaker, I don't have any qualms about making this point, because I've come to the conclusion that Plaid isn't going to succeed unless and until it grapples with this basic issue.

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  4. Efrogwr
    Quite I right it was 2005 Mea culpa.

    All the responses so far seem to point to the next few months being one of Interest for the Blaid and for those who are watching

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