Wednesday, 18 January 2012

A Plaid by any other name

The name of the Irish Political Party Fianna Fáil  is commonly directly  translated into "Soldiers of Destiny" but its official name is "The Republican Party". But I suspect nowhere in Ireland says they are a member of or a supporter of The Republican party.notwithstanding the huge defeat it had in last years election.

Which brings me to the news that commission set up by Plaid Cymru in the face of two poor election results to recommend that Plaid  should consider changing its name to the Welsh National Party.

If you didn't know and I wouldn't blame if you did.  Plaid's English name is currently the "Party of Wales "( a more direct translation). Its been suggested that the name was adopted In order that  Welsh Labour couldn't  Labour it self Welsh Labour - The party of Wales.

Since then has anyone really noticed the Plaid- Party of Wales name on party leaflets?, Hss any member canvassing said . Hello I'm calling on behalf of the Party of Wales? Has any senior Party member used it on a Pol tics pro gramme?Has any journalist or member of the public

Indeed nearly everyone simply refers to the Party as "Plaid Cymru "or simperly  "Plaid" or if they wish to be negative "Welsh Nats" or  even more derogatory " Nats".

Would a name change make any difference I doubt it and I suspect hardly any member will use it . Indeed it will be  largely only the Blaid's opponents who will.

Quite frankly if Plaid wants to link more with English speakers and avoid being seen as a Welsh speaking party it should  concentrate it efforts more in widening  it membership and campaigning more in the South Wales Valleys.Including a  staffed valleys office

So why has the commission come out with the name change proposal which they must know most members will not use ?  Could it be that the Party realised that this would be the major issue taken up with the report? And therefore the main points will be left to the membership and the four leadership contenders to digest rather than the media?

Gareth Hughes on his blog has given us most of the real recommendation  of the commission and I reproduce them below.

  • The establishment of a National Academy to revolutionise campaigning and organisation, as well as nurturing the community champions and national leaders of the future.
  •  A radical modernisation of the party’s campaigning methods to create a permanently campaigning party equipped with the tools that are necessary for a modern 21st century party.
  • The establishment of a more effective mechanism for policy formulation. Ensuring that the skills of members, supporters and external experts are utilised in order to ensure better policy development.
  • An acceptance that the Party needs greater clarity over its aims in order to be able to present a coherent and united message to the people of Wales.
  • Fundamental changes to the Party’s structures in order to ensure clearer leadership and greater accountability from all Plaid representatives
All of which seem to be the sort of thing any review of any structure would come up with.

Quite frankly the future of Plaid for the next decade will .not be based on a inward revue but on who it elects as its leadership in March and who can galvanize the Party with a vision of a Independent Wales that will unite all of its people. The question is will she  be up to the task


  1. Gareth Hughes has taken the recommendations from the Plaid Cymru website.

  2. "The name of the Irish Political Party Fianna Fáil is commonly directly translated into "Soldiers of Destiny""

    Actually that's not quite correct: "Fianna Fáil" directly translated is the "Army/Force of Ireland", "Fianna" is a old Irish word for group of brothers in arms and its use as a word is to be seen in Irish folklore in the tales of Oisín and Cú Chulainn. "Fáil" relates to 'Inis Fáil' which is an old way to describe Ireland. Interestingly, in modern day Ireland the defence forces (Army and Navy), also have the words "Fianna Fáil" on their uniforms and official seal.

    The 'soldiers of destiny' interpretation comes from the use of "Fianna Fáil" in the context of in the national anthem and is not directly translated as such.

  3. I disagree with you on this, Glyn. It's a step which should have been taken many years ago.

    As a native Welsh-speaker I wish that Wales was a fully bilingual nation. Sadly it is not.

    'Plaid Cymru - The Party of Wales' - is a political party. It decided to be such decades ago, rather than continue as what was mainly a pressure group setting out to influence the political direction taken in Wales by other parties.

    Once that decision was taken, its primary objective should sensibly have been to win as many elected offices as possible, and certainly a majority of the Wales' MPs, if it was to attain its primary goals of home rule, self-determination or whatever was the current flavour decided by the party's democratic processes.

    In order to achieve those electoral goals it stands to reason that it had to appeal to a majority of the electorate, eighty percent (or so) of whom cannot speak the Welsh language. It has failed to achieve that, not even coming close. It's a fact that its strongest support comes from those who are bilingual.

    Confusion has persisted in the public mind as to the nature of Plaid Cymru. Whilst that perception persists, whether correct or not, the party stands little chance of attaining its primary aims - government as a majority party - and the implementation of its goals.

    The SNP has attained the first of its primary aims - majority government - and is in a position to move on to the next step. It has not had a language issue to confuse the Scottish electorate.

    Plaid Cymru's mistake has been to confuse the two issues from its very inception - it stems from its founder, Saunders Lewis.

    Having decided to embrace the political world in the 1960s it should have taken steps then to dispel the view that it was a language pressure group. That entailed accepting the reality of the state of the language in Wales - it was too much for many of the party's language activists to swallow, and that may still be the case.

    Common sense dictates that its name should have been - The Welsh National Party (WNP or something similar) - Plaid Cymru, in that order, reflecting the reality of the linguistic balance.

    By today the name 'Plaid' has stuck, and it will be difficult to shake off the connotation. That does not mean that it shouldn't happen now. Better late than never - else 'never' is what it will be.

    Irionically the election of a nationalist government in Wales will do more for the language than anything else.

    I agree with the Report's recommendation, and it should be implemented asap.

    The leadership of Plaid has hitherto tended to be in a particular mould.. male native Welsh speakers.. who have largely failed (with the exception of Dafydd Wigley) to appeal to a wider constituency.

    It's time to break with that tradition and it has the opportunity to do so this spring by electing Leanne Wood, the candidate with the most potential to take the national cause forward.

    I've read, albeit briefly, the entire Report, but haven't yet assimilated all its salient points. Lengthy it certainly is.

  4. Patrick

    Yes you are right but Gareth may well have taken it directly from the report.

    AnonymousJan 18, 2012 01:24 AM

    I did say commonly though your use is more accurate.


    I'm a monoglot English speaker and have never has a problem with just Plaid Cymru and our friends in Cornwall don't seem to have a problem with Mebyon Kernow though there is a Cornish National Party "Parti Kenethlek Kernewek" which I believe exists but is unregisterd.

    So preheats Plaid should at least adopt Welsh Nationalist Party before somebody else does and confuse the issue.

  5. Glyn:

    I appreciate that many monoglot members and supporters of the party don't have a problem with its name.. that is stating the obvious.

    That the party has largely failed to break out of its heartlands is equally obvious - of course it doesn't follow that it is because it is known as 'Plaid' - I think there are a number of reasons for the apparent plateau that the party has reached electorally, perception or mis-perception being one of them.

    Of course language, more so even than Scotland, is not to the fore in Cornish politics - there is no language divide there. Ireland's history is so different that it doesn't bear comparison, to my mind, with either Wales or Scotland.

    The report recommends the adoption of 'Welsh National Party' whilst still retaining 'Plaid Cymru'.