Essentially, Plaid spent most of the General Election moaning about the UK leader debates and then, in the cold light of election morning, realised they had missed the bus. The main reason the double decker sped past was the same problem that Plaid faces today: its core messages on voting for it to defend public services are the same ones used by Labour. On election day in Wales it was Labour’s version of that mantra – repeated in Buddhist chant by Peter Hain – that connected with the Welsh electorate. And judging by the recent opinion polls for ITV Wales, that remains the case.
Finally, Plaid needs to move away from the cult of personality. For as long as I have watched politics in Wales, Plaid has looked for messianic figures. The Dafydd Wigley Effect is the most potent. For decades many in the party have wrapped their ambitions in a leader who, however capable, relinquished power in his party a decade ago. Alex Salmond may have made a comeback in the SNP, but the same has not happened here. Yet the party has failed collectively to move on and even where it has done so it has pinned its political aspirations too much on individuals and not enough on policies, progress and party development. When a party does that, it is bound to falter and suffer a crisis. This is exactly what is visible to all with the decision of Adam Price not to contest an Assembly seat next year. So many in Plaid – often those not in the diehard Wigley camp – have watched and waited for their chosen saviour to appear that they have stopped thinking about the party’s direction and how it builds on impressive outcomes in the 2007 and 2008 elections.
Adam more positive, but only just:
Yes, Plaid had a relatively poor General Election characterised by an excessive focus on its exclusion from the televised Prime Ministerial debates. Arguably, it doesn’t amount to a hill of beans that a party committed to seceding Wales from the UK can win only three rather than five seats in a Parliament of 650 odd, but I’m prepared to concede it has an effect on morale and that all-important sense of momentum.
I’ve done enough whining about those debates myself but can’t overestimate the marginalisation they caused both for Plaid and the SNP.
So what to do?
1. We need a Britain wide party to contest UK Elections.
2. This party should be an alliance of the SNP, Plaid and the Greens.
1) Practically on the +ve side we’ve done it before with great success – in 1992 Cynog Dafis won the old Ceredigion and Pembroke North seat with the formal support of the Greens.
2) In Scotland the Independent Green Party believes in Scottish Independence.
3) In Europe we are all members of the The Greens–European Free Alliance
4) With 10 MPs and a Britain wide presence we surely could not be excluded from those blasted debates.
Not many really mostly organisationally:
1) The Greens have one organisational unit covering that strange country – EnglandandWales.
2) It would take a while to organise an effective candidate selection process in Wales and Scotland.