Wednesday, 29 December 2010

What does the future hold for Plaid Cymru?

There is a very nice profile of Nerys Evans in today's Western Mail.

It is a very interesting article and was the first time I realised that potentially Nerys could be out of front line politics from May.

In the article Nerys is rightly proud of the progress Plaid Cymru has made over the last 10 years. She points out that despite devolution and the fact that Labour and the Conservatives have now re-branded themselves as Welsh parties, Plaid are riding higher than ever before.

However in my opinion the real challenges for Plaid still lie ahead. The re-branding of the Conservatives and Labour in Wales has so far been little more that window dressing. As devolution develops and evolves it is inevitable that the two main parties will seek greater autonomy in order to avoid disputes and conflict with their masters in London.

This is likely to lead to separate political parties in Wales who whilst aligned with the main parties in London, will be completely independent.

At this stage the question will be put to the Welsh public of small vs large state and Plaid may well be left on the sidelines. Chances are that the left leaning Plaid supporters will fall in with Labour whilst the pro business wing will jump on board with the Conservatives.

It is only when the dust of full devolution has finally settled will we finally know whether there is any future for Plaid Cymru.


  1. An interesting outlook. Myself, I am a generally small-statist nationalist, and my nationalism is all about creating the best conditions for Wales and the Welsh people to flourish. So joining the Tories would not be inconceivable for me, on ideological grounds, in the longer term when many of Plaid's constitutional aims will have been fulfilled.

    But I think you underestimate the issue of personalities. In my neck of the woods, Plaid membership is a very easy coalition between right and left and open-minded, because party membership is merely a facet of a wider nationalist outlook. It is just as social as it is political. There are people in Plaid for whom joining any other party would be totally impossible. So Plaid will continue - whether as a serious, professional political force is another matter.

    And besides, local Tories tend to be a totally different kettle of people than Plaid, Labour or Lib Dem members. There is a correlation between personality type and party membership - the bearded bicycling sock-and-sandalised Lib Dem being the most obvious example. So what might look politically feasible on the national level might not be doable on the ground.

  2. Hi Harri (sorry I called you Henry last time)- pretty interesting blog, some things to think about here and i'll definitely be keeping tabs on this.

    In terms of the future of Wales, as devolution progresses (and regardless of to which extent it progresses) it is inevitable that proportional representation will be a fact of political life.

    As such, Plaid will continue as a "serious, professional political force" for the forseeable future. Even the Welsh Lib Dems will do so, even at the current levels of collapse.

    My experience is that Plaid is a coalition of Welsh nationalists, mostly of the left but also including some traditional liberals. Although every party is a broad church I think Plaid is actually the narrowest, because if you think about it in Plaid there is no equivalent of the gap between say, yourself with such a Welsh mindset, and the kind of anti-devolution tradition that David Davies speaks for.

    When you mention the "question...of small vs large state" I feel that is an abstract point. The equivalent of me postulating whether the Welsh people will go for Maoism or Marxism-Leninism. It's not a real debate in those terms but the better, real way of framing that debate would be the question of collectivism versus individualism.

    When it comes to that debate, the majority of Plaid Cymru and it's political heritage would go with collectivism- even those that wished to seek a marriage between the two. People that are 'on the right' in Plaid are generally social democrats or liberals rather than conservatives.

    And in conclusion, I think a massive section of your own party does not share the sense of inevitability that you do, about devolution and Welsh political parties and even the prospect of independence that you hint at.