Elfyn Llwyd owes us an apology

I've just heard Elfyn Llwyd completely misrepresent Plaid Cymru's policy on nuclear power on Question Time.


He tried to make a distinction between "new" nuclear power stations and the building of new reactors at existing nuclear power stations, claiming that Plaid was not necessarily against an expansion of the Wylfa site and, amazingly, that we had voted for this policy in Conference.

This is totally disingenuous on his part, because neither the motion nor the amendment actually said this. The motion, as we can read here, said:

Conference reaffirms:

Plaid’s total opposition to the construction of any new nuclear power stations in Wales.

And the amendment added was:

However, Conference recognises that the decision as to whether a new nuclear power station is built at Wylfa is a matter for the UK government. If the station is given the go-ahead, Conference believes that the main economic benefit should accrue to the local community in terms of construction jobs, supply chain opportunities and the skills necessary for the operation of the station once completed.

The wording is critical to understanding the amendment. It talks about whether "a new nuclear power station is built at Wylfa", thus making it perfectly clear that the proposal to build new reactors at Wylfa constitutes a new nuclear power station. Plaid Cymru is totally opposed to any new nuclear power station in Wales including one at Wylfa. Elfyn's distinction was spurious and misleading.


One golden rule of public life is that if you don't understand what you're talking about, it's better not to say anything. The last thing we need as a party is for our MPs to start making up policy as they go along. But on the other hand this is so blatant a fabrication, and such a wanton distortion of the truth, that I suspect he deliberately chose to misrepresent what happened at Conference. It is no secret that some in the party leadership do not like policy being decided by the membership; but if he thinks he can force the party to accept the change in policy he wants because the membership won't speak out so as to maintain a semblance of unity, he's miscalculated badly. This subject is too important to fudge.


I can only apologize to those who have been misled by what one of our leaders has said. It is hugely embarrassing. But it's not enough for me or others like me to do it. An abject and humble apology is required from Elfyn himself ... both to the party he has misrepresented and, more importantly, to the public at large. Question Time attracts a huge audience, so he needs to make every effort to repair the damage that has been caused by his words in an equally public way.

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Democritus said...

Could you post the whole motion as passed? Clarification on Plaid's policy would be very welcome!

MH said...

I always provide links; so just download the conference handbook and read it for yourself. Climate Change, starting on p64/65.

The handbook is printed before conference, so it doesn't say whether the motion and amendment were passed. But they were.

The motion on Maritime Resources on p36/37 is also relevant for energy from offshore windfarms, tidal lagoons, underwater turbines and the like.

Gwynn said...

Don't hold your breath while waiting for that apology. Plaid Cymru comes across as hopelessly divided and lacking leadership.

Anonymous said...

He also 'misrepresented' how the FAW voted in the FIFA elections.

To be fair, it was great to see Question Time embracing devolution just a few weeks after the election; no devolved question (yet a question on the English health service), no devolved politician and a question on 'our FA' when in fact it is only the English FA. When on shows like that I would've hoped that Plaid Cymru politicians would move the debate towards Welsh policies.... sadly not.

I mean a great Q would have discussed Welsh taxation powers, following the devolved leaders meeting.

Anonymous said...

QT is a very British affair - any devolved questions and answers are discouraged by both the producers and presenter. You might get something token about Scottish independence, but from the perspective of how it will impact on England.
It's the BBC at its worst.

Anonymous said...

Elfyn was poor on Question Time. He failed to stand up for Wales. I get the impression of him being a career Westminster politician. Shame that he came across a bumbling fool continually interupted by Dimbleby.

Anonymous said...


With friends like you who needs enemies?

PS I'm not that keen a supporter of Plaid although I do tend to vote for them more as being a lesser of evils than anything else.

Anonymous said...

Plaid tend to 'go native' on things like QT - wanting to appeal sensible for our English friends. Salmond didn't bother. He saw it as a way of promoting Scottish nationalism.

Elfyn's weak. He should be pointing out the irrelevancy of the questions and making QT look foolish.

Hope Helen Mary's better on Any Questions tonight ... but I think again, it'll be a matter of showing to the Guardian readers tha we really are nice left wing people and not promoting Welsh nationalism.

Syd Morgan said...

On the point about QT, I'd go further. The programme took place here yet the whole paradigm was English. They are specifically and deliberately writing us out of the script on every question, except for some colonial construct called "Mid-Wales" (can't say 'Powys' see). How is that singular Anglo-centricity "British"? Is it going too far to say this is a form of racism - denial of a place and a people? If not that, what? It is certainly common across the BBC - and it's really getting up my nose now!

Of course, the Scots won't put up with it, but we do.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10.27, promoting nuclear power and being un-Welsh is not left wing. That's office-seeking managerialism, you know, what failed here in May.

MH said...

Thanks for the comments. I don't know if Elfyn would consider me a friend, but I would certainly expect my friends to take me to task when I do something wrong. A lot of what he said last night was very good, and I'll be the first to praise him for that. But he wouldn't, or at least shouldn't, expect to get away with what he was so clearly wrong about.

It may well be that he, personally, does not object to a new nuclear power station at Wylfa. If so, he's free to say it. But it was completely unacceptable for him to claim that Plaid Cymru as a party agree with this view. We don't.


I don't particularly want to get into a discussion about Question Time. Its flaws have been highlighted many times before. My major concern is only that millions of people will have watched the programme, and millions of people will now have been given the impression that Plaid Cymru is two-faced on nuclear power: against it in principle, but anxious to accept it if it means money and jobs coming to a poor part of Wales.

The average viewer can't be expected to know the detail of Plaid's policy. But when they see Ieuan Wyn Jones in open conflict with his party on this issue, and now hear Elfyn Llwyd trying to claim that the party has changed its policy, they will take this as fact. That is why Elfyn deserves such harsh criticism. He has made the party a laughing stock.

I don't know whether he will be man enough to say he was wrong. I hope he will, because what was actually agreed at Conference is in black and white for all to see. But if he isn't man enough, I'll do my damnedest to make sure he doesn't get away with it.

Anonymous said...

Yes.....but who with any intelligence washes their underwear in public? You've already got some Lib Dem blogger picking up on your post and posting on his blog about it. And I heard IWJ before the assembly elections talking on radio Wales about how his party was against Nuclear but that his first priority was his constituency. It was a laugh listening to him if it wasn't so desperately sad.

Anonymous said...

'Hope Helen Mary's better on Any Questions tonight ... but I think again, it'll be a matter of showing to the Guardian readers tha we really are nice left wing people and not promoting Welsh nationalism.'

Doesn't the left oppose nuclear power? When has Helen Mary not been nationalist? Odd and unhelpful comment.

Dylan said...

I don't oppose nuclear power and I sincerely wish Plaid Cymru didn't either.

However, I think it's wonderful how Plaid Cymru policies are decided by all of its members and I believe it is important that this continues, even if it makes us all cringe to see some of the leaders trying to have it both ways on nuclear energy. I am not anti-nuclear (I opted for the double negative because pro-nuclear maybe sounds too enthusiastic) and I think it's ridiculous to rule nuclear energy; much of the anti- rhetoric is silly scaremongering. However, there is the question that the party is anti-nuclear, as decreed by the members. The members have to be persuaded and the issue voted on before the elected members try to pretend that the party's policy is anything other than what it is. Otherwise everyone ends up looking rather foolish.

Dylan said...

dammit. should be: "...ridiculous to rule OUT..."

Lyndon said...

Anon 10.34, I had no idea that power sources had political orientations. So nuclear is right-wing, yes? I suppose wind is left wing? How about coal? That's a tricky one. Is petrol more or less right wing than diesel?

MH said...

The relationship between what the members and the leadership of Plaid Cymru want isn't quite that wonderful, Dylan. There's plenty of room for friction.

But to pick up on 14:23's point, at least Ieuan never tried to hide the fact that he disagreed with Plaid's policy on nuclear. Elfyn has simply trampled over Plaid's policy, misrepresenting what Conference actually voted on rather than having the dignity to say that he personally disagreed with it.

It has been awkward having a leader who was at odds with the party on nuclear, but at least Ieuan acted honourably.

Anonymous said...

MH said:

'It has been awkward having a leader...'

More like.. 'It has been awkward NOT having a leader..'

Sad but true, in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it a case of having an Old Guard at the top of Plaid who take the membership for granted. If that's the case, then maybe it's because many of the members have allowed them to do so, and need to start rocking the boat a little more...so what's to be done?

MH said...

I agree, Anon. As Elfyn hasn't yet made any apology (or indeed tried to give any explaination) the only reasonable thing to conclude is that the leadership is trying to change Plaid's policy in the face of the clearly stated wishes of the membership. That would explain, for example, why our total opposition to any new nuclear power in Wales was mysteriously dropped from our manifesto, as I noted here.

Something is rotten at or near the heart of the current Plaid leadership. We need to bear that in mind when selecting our next leader and deputy leader. That's why any potential leader's policy position is much more important than their personal charisma.

Anonymous said...

How are they able to do that? Without the sanction of the membership?

Also, is there a mechanism within Plaid that allows grassroots branches to co-ordinate amongst each other? And is there not a looming deadline for motions to conference - June 13th?

Should say that the last anon poster was myself, Draig, but it won't let me post under my id for some reason...

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