Ron Davies

One or two comments made on other blogs today have suggested that Ron Davies will definitely be joining Plaid. This follows the news today that Forward Wales is going to be wound up, together with his endorsements of both Lindsay Whittle in Caerffili and Glyndwr Jones in Merthyr, as I mentioned yesterday.

In today's Good Morning Wales interview [iPlayer @ 2:34 or download clip from here] he talked about a close working relationship with Plaid, but went no further than that. So my advice would be not to jump to conclusions. It does seem certain that some sort of arrangement will be made for the 2011 Assembly election, but that need not necessarily mean joining Plaid and standing as a Plaid candidate. It is one of the options, of course, but other options would be for him to stand on a joint ticket in the same way as Cynog Dafis stood on a joint Plaid/Green ticket in Ceredigion, or to stand as an independent and for Plaid not to fight the seat.

Although the other options might seem less tidy, the latter would have practical advantages for Plaid because it would mean (all other things being equal) that Plaid would not loose a regional seat as a result of him being elected. It is a tricky issue, and it might result in queries to the Electoral Commission, but I would remind people that this is exactly what happened previously when Ron Davies and John Marek stood as independents rather than as Forward Wales candidates. Having been allowed once, it would be hard to imagine on what grounds it could not be done again. Of course the question wouldn't even arise if we had a fairer voting system ... but that's another issue.


It is an open secret that Ron's position is very close to Plaid's on a good number of things, so the obvious question to be asked is why he has not yet joined Plaid if it is his eventual intention to do so. I would guess the main issue would be independence. However as we're not likely to be voting on independence for the next ten years or so we have a lot of common ground that we can travel side by side if independence is a sticking point for him.

But who knows, perhaps Ron is coming round to the idea of independence for Wales, not least because we are beginning to see the way that independence can be achieved in an EU context, through what is now described as internal enlargement. Things are advancing on three different fronts: Catalunya, Flanders and Scotland ... and as soon as it is seen that independence will not result in "the sky falling on their heads" more and more people in Wales will realize that the sky won't fall on our heads either.

If Ron does intend to join Plaid the announcement that Forward Wales will not continue seems to provide a good opportunity for him to do so ... though we probably shouldn't expect anything soon because it will take a few weeks or months to wind everything up. The timing of any decision is of course entirely up to him, but it would surely be more newsworthy to leave it until closer to the Assembly election in 2011. If it were announced now, it would just get swamped in the run up to the Westminster election and would draw attention away from Lindsay's campaign.

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Anonymous said...

As you say, it would be to Plaid's advantage for Ron to stand and win as a Plaid-supporting independent rather than their flag because it would maintain the regional AMs. Forward Wales first spotted that loophole in the law and, if Ron did go for this, I think both Tories and Labour would cry foul but could do nothing about it.
One factor you havent considered is that Lindsay Whittle came v close in 2007 and would win with Ron's endorsement and support. What chance of that happening? (assuming he doesn't win in May of course)

MH said...

There are two "big beasts" in Caerffili, and neither would be happy sacrificing their chances of a seat.

Ron didn't want to go back to Westminster, so there is no conflict of interest over this election.

But, as it just so happens, one of the two Plaid AMs for South Wales East recently won an Oscar for defection ... so there is now an opening for someone to take his place. It's a just question of which way round.

I'd go for an independent Ron in Caerffili and Lindsay for the second spot on the Plaid SWE list. But it's not my decision to make.

Anonymous said...

This could be a door that opens to other possibilities. The Plaid-Green alliance of the 90s shows that Plaid can build progressive alliances (even if both sides felt stung by that specific alliance).
If Plaid were, for example, to win in Llanelli and Carmarthen West in 2011 then they would be highly unlikely to win a regional seat. Why not stand aside on the regional list and let a Green AM be elected as part of a real progressive alliance?
Plaid, Ron, Trish Law and a Green starts to look interesting.

Hogyn o Rachub said...

The Greens are still a very Anglicized party, and Plaid already a green party. Adding to that the Grees' traditionally low level of support in Wales and I don't think an alliance with them is either advantageous or palatable.

As far as Ron is concerned, the advantages of having such a man in the party far outweighs the benefits of simply cooperating with him. It would set sound(er) foundations for Plaid in the area, simply cooperating as him as an independent would leave the seat far more likely to fall back to Labour's hands after he decided to retire. Setting the foundations for long-term gains is more important than a temporarily bloated set of regional AMs.

Anonymous said...

Does Ron support Plaid's policy on the badger cull?

MH said...

Sorry it's taken a while to respond to the later comments, I was preoccupied with what was happening on the referendum.

I want to take the two points together. In essence the question is how we work with people who want broadly the same thing, but for different reasons.

Although it's fair to say that Plaid is a green party, from the point of view of the Greens we are still not green enough. We want many of the same things, but for slightly differing reasons. For us Wales is the most important thing and we want things to be done at a Wales level, the Greens' emphasis is for things in the UK (and elsewhere) to be done at a more local level. The two happen to co-incide very nicely. That means we can work together. To me it is dangerous to shun such links because they are "anglicized" ... they are people who live in Wales and have a right to be in Wales. They probably don't care as much about the language as we do, but they probably do care very much about communities in Wales, their sustainability, employment, transport and the like ... though in just the same way as they would for Cumbria or Cornwall.

The second thing is that the pattern of politics has changed and is changing. I can't imagine anyone thinking that any one party will ever get a majority of votes in a country with four big parties. Moreover if we get AV or STV people's second and subsequent votes will count for very much more than they do now. If we can build relationships with parties that have similar objectives to our own, rather than try to get them to join us on our terms, we will end up with most of their second preference votes in the same way as the Greens will always have my second preference vote.

HoR, you mentioned the long term, but the one thing that we in Wales need most in the long term is other parties who support independence for Wales in order to take us beyond the 50% mark. In Scotland the Greens and Scottish Socialists support independence alongside the SNP. In Catalunya independence will require not only the ERC (a left wing pro-independence party similar to Plaid) but also CiU (the more centre-right mostly-nationalists) to work together. Let's build the relationships that will enable this to happen in Wales too. Not just with the Greens, but with all who want to travel in a broadly similar direction.


Now, as for Ron Davies, I have great respect for him and would dearly like him to come over to Plaid ... but I do not want him to unless he can support our core aim of independence. This has obviously been a sticking point for him, and I think it would be very wrong for us to cobble together some compromise in order for him to be able to come into the party. A "convert" can't use ambiguous words either, he has to be overtly pro-independence for voters at large to be able to trust him. And if we accepted him without that it would again raise the spectre that we are back pedaling on independence ... which was a disaster for us a few years ago. Mixed messages don't work. If we want to formalize some sort of association it is better for him to stand on a joint Plaid/Indy ticket than for either him or us to make a compromise on core principles. If we don't, it is better for him to stand an independent.

Also, we surely have to accept that a lot of Ron's vote in Caerffili is coming from people who support him, but can't quite make the jump to supporting Plaid. How much of that vote would be lost if he became a member?

Unknown said...

"Independence" is a ticking point for a lot of people, simply because the word has no real meaning in the 21st century. There are very few truly independent states in the world - Burma, North Korea and Bhutan spring to mind. But it is the spectre of total isolation and introspection that the little Englanders have been allowed to invoke subliminally at the mere mention of the word, over generations, that frightens people.

Like it or not (and I for one wish it were otherwise) we will continue to have close and interdependent links with England and other component parts of the UK, even if we gain our own representation as a member of the United Nations. To believe otherwise is delusional.

I think that the Scandinavian model is one we should seek to promote - as Scandinavian countries are well regarded in the UK, they are all now independent, but all benefit from being part of a greater whole.

Anonymous said...

Ron is a time bomb... just waiting to go off

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