Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Conference or Rally?

Former ITV journalist Gareth Hughes has Blogged on the lack of any real debate at the Plaid Conference he writes...

Party conferences are getting tame. Where are the young turks that challenge the party bosses and push parties in directions that cause maximum discomfort to the party establishment? Plaid Cymru’s conference was such an affair. With monotonous regularity motions were carried unanimously. What ever happened to debate? 
I can't help but agree:But of course when Party's like Plaid do have a debate and a vote its journalist like Gareth who then write bylines on how the party is divided..

Still the Party conferences are nothing but a rally these days 

Part of the problem ironically for Plaid is that because of the Assembly it now has a great deal more spokespersons who are elected to public office.

This means that they are given space to address the part faithful on their remit and its from them and not the floor where branches have drawn up motions and amendments on subjects.

In my days in Plaid conferences were exiting affairs motions were debated some resulting in a close vote or constitutional amendments just failing to reach the 2/3 majority to change the party aims.

Of course this resulted in paper like the Western Mail reporter at the time  declaring that the Party was split especially if it was a Left-Right issue where his sympathies were with the latter.

Some times the Plaid Conferences   were declared to be  split even if the vote was 90-10 and only one person had made speech opposing the majority view
That  speaker would then be quoted in the Mule as representing a sizable minority .

Mind you like all the Party's if the leadership didn't like the motion even if it was passed they would quietly ignore it 

Something which was even worse in other parties especially Labour and the then Liberal party

Still members had a feeling that they had some say in policy and they weren't just there to applaud speeches from the leadership.

Gareth Hughes therefore may be right about the lack of debate but he and his journalist colleagues must take a great deal of responsibility for this.


Anonymous said...

Just as a matter of interest....I know Hughes is left leaning but is it known whether he is a Labour supporter of what?

Anonymous said...

My understanding is Hughes was a Labour member, one of the Ron Davies/Jim Griffths crowd, very left-wing and pro-Welsh.

But he stopped being party political after being turned down for a Labour candidacy to the Assembly during the New Labour years (I don't know the specifics).

If a young person came through with his views nowadays they would be Plaid. But in Hughes' day it wasn't so obvious where Plaid stood, and as National Left says, there were some epic conference battles between conservatives/liberals and socialists, for the heart and soul of the party.

The right-wing of Plaid formed the 'Hydro' group and the left-wing coalesced around Dafydd Elis-Thomas' 'National Left'. Many members stayed out of the whole dispute, including Gwynfor Evans. The left were stronger intellectually and aligned themselves with the international New Left of the 60s and 70s. The New Left consisted of a broad swathe of Marxists, greens and socialists who rejected the Soviet Union and focused on identity politics and other forms of radicalism.

The Hydro group wasn't really 'right-wing' in UK terms but was more liberal and culturally conservative.

The National Left defeated Hydro comprehensively and 'community socialism' was adopted as the party's ideology by Dafydd Wigley in 1981 (some say as a compromise between the left and the right). Almost all of Plaid's prominent future politicians came from the National Left.

An exciting history that explains alot of Plaid's current leanings.

glynbeddau said...

Gareth Hughes "left leaning" can't see it myself.

Alwyn ap Huw said...

Before becoming a professional political pundit Gareth use to be Ron Davies' constituency agent – so a paid official of the Labour party, but I don't know if he is still a Labour supporter.

glynbeddau said...

Tanks for the in formation on Gareth's past I must sat reading his blog I always got the feeling he had some sympathy to Plaid but was against the left leaning members/

Anonymous said...

Glyn.....he's always banging on about that the UK government need to spend spend spend to get out of this quagmire.....hardly a voice of the right. But although I don't think he shows any particular animosity towards Plaid, he doesn't tick all the boxes for me to being a Plaid supporter if you know what I mean. He doesn't either really judge Labour much if at all. That is why I asked the initial question and I've learnt a lot and especially from anon 11:46

glynbeddau said...

I was an active member of the National Left during the period Anon 11:46 . Hence the name of this Blog as I attempt to carry on the campaign for progressive Socialist Ideas within the National movement.

I'm no longer a member of Plaid because it has gone down the road of all the other Parties in that its totally run from the top and ordinary members have little say in actual policy.