Stick to your plans, Ieuan

We are beginning to see signs of a concerted attempt to get Ieuan Wyn Jones to step down from his position of party leader immediately, as is clear from Betsan Powys' blog and this report in the Western Mail today.

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Now I don't think Ieuan has handled this week particularly well. Being away on holiday is not the same thing as taking the principled stance of the other four. It smacks of selfishness, and he has therefore opened himself up to criticism he could have avoided. But that hardly justifies the level of bitterness being directed at him. As I mentioned in my post yesterday, there has been a lot of hype surrounding the queen's visit to the Assembly on Tuesday ... vastly inflating its importance by mistakenly trying to portray it as a "state opening". Elizabeth Windsor was not there to open the Fourth Assembly; she was merely a guest at the second day of the celebrations to mark its opening.

If someone like Carwyn Jones wants to criticize IWJ for not being present when the queen visits the national legislature, it would be as well to remind him that when she visited Holyrood in 2009, nearly fifty MSPs stayed away, including seventeen Labour MSPs. Believe it or not, eight of those Labour MSPs said they were not there because they had booked holidays in advance. When it comes to double standards, Labour don't just take the biscuit ... they scoff the whole packet.

The only substance to Labour's criticism might be that IWJ was on holiday when the Assembly was in session. But that is hardly an unusual occurrence.

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But all this is now being used as a pretext to try and get Ieuan to step down from the leadership sooner rather than later. It doesn't take too much guesswork to realize who in Plaid wants to bounce the party into an early election, especially before the some of the potential leaders like Llyr Huws Gruffydd and Simon Thomas are able to establish themselves as AMs.

Nor does it take too much imagination to realize why those who oppose Plaid want to see us bounced into an early leadership election contest. They would much prefer to see an old has-been like Dafydd Elis-Thomas as leader, because it will ensure that Plaid goes backwards rather than forwards. On top of that, doing an early deal with Labour will just make life comfortable for Labour at the very time that they need to be put under most pressure to accept the devolution of more areas of responsibility, particularly fiscal responsibility, to Wales.

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We in Plaid have more important things to do than rush to elect a new leader. We need to sort ourselves out as a party, and establish a clear direction and policy platform before we decide which of our AMs should lead the party. Ieuan needs to stick to his plans and remain leader while we do that.

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12 comments:

Anonymous said...

As a nationalist I think IWJ needs to go sooner rather than later, not because I particularly want an election now but because IWJ is now effectively lame duck. Moreover every time he'll stand up and question Carwyn Jones or every time Plaid Cymru try to portray Labour as being weak in standing up to Wales they can just turn round and say 'at least we turn up for work at the Assembly rather than sun-bathing in Nice'.

IWJ has effectively punctured Plaid's narrative for the next two years by being selfish enough to extend his holiday. It shows a stratastrophic lack of leadership and common sense. He's undermined his own party's strategy. It's a Michael Foot in the donkey jacket moment.

Anonymous said...

Did you see Daf El's interview on the evening of the Queens visit?
It went something like this:

"these ceremonies will remain as long as Wales is within the UK, and long may that continue"

Nationalist? nationalist!?
_______________________________________________________________

I agree there must be a cool head on this. There has to be a review first of the party. And also IF we want to go back into power it would be far easier, and we'd get a better deal as soon as Labour AM's realise how hard it is to govern with no majority.

It's quite clear who 'the senior sources' who wan there to be a competition soon. Can the party afford this electorally? and also financially (after the Referendum and Election)?

Whoever gets it, I hope a certain 'senior' member does not become a Minister or Leader for that matter, or in the words of Duncan Bannatyne "I'm out"!

Anonymous said...

Agree with half of the post: no, we should not be bounced into when we choose a new leader. Yet I cannot for the life of me understand why IWJ absented himself. As you say, this is the second day of the celebrations to mark the opening. But, hey, it's the opening of the first legislative assembly, surely a landmark for Wales and for Plaid Cymru (and indeed one of IWJ's achievements). I'm sorry if he's tired but what if we had won the election? It's all very odd and is a distraction we could really do without. Maybe there is more to it than has yet come out.
Efrogwr

MH said...

Looking back at what I wrote, I didn't make it as clear as I should that I think Ieuan's absence this week was a mistake on his part. I had said that explicitly in a comment I made at the same time in the previous thread, but I should have repeated it here as well. I've therefore added that to this post, and apologize for any confusion.

Anonymous said...

The phrase gaffe-prone comes to mind.

Anonymous said...

IWJ deserves credit for steering plaid thru some difficult times in recent years, beginning with the enforced loss of dafydd wigley as leader _ from which i would argue plaid has never really recovered - and culminating in the one wales agreement...which at least delivered the referendum on lawmaking powers for wales.

Personally - and speaking as a plaid member - i find these off the record briefings against him disgraceful and cowardly. If there are such senior people in plaid who feel this way about IWJ - and we have to trust the journalist in question on this - they should have the bottle to say so publicly instead of cowering behind a journalist's pen!

Leigh Richards
swansea

Anonymous said...

Leigh - and this is something John Dixon has blogged about. I don't think there is much briefing. I thing the comments on websites are by ordinary Plaid supporters.

Most candidates for the leadership would be better off with an election in 6-12 months time. They're in no great rush. The agenda is moving quickly now solely because of IWJ's mistake.

Lionelair said...

Agree totally with Leigh above. Plaid hasn't really got itself sorted since Dafydd Wigley's exit. It has lacked a proper direction and USP. Whilst 97 was a good result, following the YES vote, it has been downhill from there. Plaid should by now be in a position to make real gains in the southeast, but aren't. There are plenty of people down here who are nationalists with a small 'n', but don't even know it. The party is not reaching out to them. That, coupled with the catastrophic schools closure process in Gwynedd, which should have been knocked on the head by the leadership ages ago and will cost us in next year's local elections. We should be looking at taking both Carms and Ceredigion, but may not. I would be surprised if Labour didn't take Caerphilly back and get overall control in Torfaen. Now is not the time for a leadership election. Neither Llyr, nor Simon are ready. Adam is still in the US. If we have an election now we will end up with Dafydd El, who has clearly lost the plot, or Elin Jones who lacks public speaking skills. A perfect scenario for Labour to divert attention away from their inactivity and lack of ambition. Basically, Wales is again being used to serve the selfish internal interests of the massively divided Labour party. A leadership election and infighting within Plaid is exactly what they need, to stall the bandwagon of progress

Siônnyn said...

As has been hinted, this smacks of DET being Machiavellian ( or should it be Mandelsonian?) - he realises that he has to stampede the party into an early election if he is to stand any chance of winning. We cannot afford to let him succeed, whatever the Western Mail says.

Anonymous said...

As regards Dafydd Wigley, yes, he was charismatic and presidential with his booming voice, but the lack of clarity and drift about the aims of the party was clear on his watch, too.
Efrogwr

Owen said...

My reasoning behind these stories is that there was probably some "expectation" that Plaid would enter coalition negotiations fairly quickly after the election, but this hasn't happened for whatever reason, perhaps at IWJ's insistance and those AM's who want to remain in opposition. Hence the delays in commitee formation and the general feet dragging by Labour. The two disqualified Lib Dems is just an unexpected (and very convenient) problem.

After a snap leadership election, Plaid will very quickly go into One Wales II negotiations "to stabilise the Assembly" but it'll be said that it'll "stabilise Plaid as well".

IWJ's head in one hand, a pliable leader of Plaid and all the major cabinet posts in the other with a comfortable majority. Possible bonus of infighting between Plaid AM's who are pro or anti coalition.

Carwyn Jones would be able to sell that to Labour AM's who want to go it alone I'm sure. How's that for machiavellian?

maen_tramgwydd said...

Owen

'After a snap leadership election, Plaid will very quickly go into One Wales II negotiations "to stabilise the Assembly" but it'll be said that it'll "stabilise Plaid as well".'

With DE-T at the helm, and a deal with Labour, I couldn't even contemplate voting for the party.

Nevertheless IWJ needs to be replaced soon. He has brought the party to this place.

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