What is Plaid Cymru for?

In response to an article by Gareth Hughes in ClickOnWales yesterday, Cynog Dafis wrote this:

He might bear in mind that independence was not the reason for establishing Plaid Cymru – he should look at Saunders Lewis’s Principles of Nationalism, even though he may dislike the man whose thinking dominated Plaid Cymru for well-nigh twenty years. SL actually argued against independence.

Plaid’s mission is to build the nation, a mammoth task that could nevertheless mobilise widespread support.

A key to realising that support is to show that Plaid is open to alternative solutions to the British question, federalism being one and independence another – though what the latter might mean in practical terms is at this time anybody’s guess.

I don't wan't to get tied up in arguments about Plaid's past. But I am very concerned about the present and, to my mind, this statement encapsulates the main thing that is wrong with Plaid Cymru: namely that some senior members of the party are presenting a view of the party which is entirely contrary to its fundamental aims.

In case anyone is in any doubt about it, these are the aims of Plaid Cymru as stated in our constitution:

As the National Party of Wales, Plaid Cymru - The Party of Wales's aims shall be:

2.1  To secure independence for Wales in Europe.

2.2  To ensure economic prosperity, social justice and the health of the natural environment, based on decentralist socialism.

2.3  To build a national community based on equal citizenship, respect for different traditions and cultures and the equal worth of all individuals, whatever their race, nationality, gender, colour, creed, sexuality, age, ability or social background.

2.4  To create a bilingual society by promoting the revival of the Welsh language.

2.5  To promote Wales’s contribution to the global community and to attain membership of the United Nations.

People cannot be members of Plaid Cymru unless they agree to further the aims of the party as described our constitution. So to put it bluntly, anyone who is "open to alternative solutions to the British question, federalism being one and independence another" should not be in today's Plaid Cymru. Membership of Plaid Cymru is for those who have made up their minds that Wales ought to be independent, not for those who are still sitting on the fence.

Of course that doesn't mean that people in Plaid Cymru can't support a federal UK as one of the steps towards independence, in just the same way as we can support devolution as a series of steps towards independence ... but we must make it clear that these are only steps towards our goal.

There is a case, indeed a very good case, for building up a movement that will attract widespread support for us taking the next steps towards a Wales where we make more decisions by ourselves, for ourselves. People from all parties, as well as people who are not particularly concerned about party politics, could be involved in it. But Plaid Cymru isn't and shouldn't try to become that movement.

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Britnot said...

Totally agree with your comments. What we do not need at the moment is any dilution of the Plaid Cymru raison-d'etre. Yes we may consider the Federal option but only as a staging post to Independence within Europe. We have seen what happens when political parties compromise on their beliefs, no one knows what Labour/New Labour or the Lib dems stand for, other than power at any cost.
What the SNP have been totally consistent about is their goal of Independence. Yes they are willing to accept Devo-Max but there is no ambiguity about their ultimate aim. There is only so much compromise you can make before you lose message and whilst I have great respect for the work done by Cynog Dafis, on this one he is plain wrong!

Anonymous said...

Incredible tweet by DET today to the effect that the ETA ceasefire in the Basque Country was good for building s Europe of the regions! I'd like to see him say that to any Basque person.outside the PP or PSOE and see the short thrift he'd get.

There seems to be some line of thought within some senior Plaid members that if they upset plaid members and are in a minority of a few dozen that they are by implication ahead of their time or privy to some great secret or answer that the plebian, plodding, unsophisticated Plaid members don't see. That the fact that their position is such a minority one within the party makes them ny definition greater and more radical thinkers

Sorry Cynog, but you dumped Wigley to get IWJ. Yes, great move. I rest my case because you have no case to make.

Anonymous said...

Hear hear. Cynog is one of the old guard of wishy washy politicians in Plaid who have denied and weaselled themselves into a hole over independence. They represent no-one but themselves - a self-appointed vanguard of grey men, too timid to challenge the status quo. It's time they moved aside for a new generation that is growing up with devolution, thinks that more powers and more independence is a natural state of affairs, and has no concept of the pre-devolutionary centralist state. Plaid's train journey will have a few stops on the way but the final destination is clear.

Unknown said...

I agree - the time for cultural nationalism has passed. The battle for the language is won in so far as its future is of central concern to all of the main parties in Wales.

Time to move on from Saunders Lewis, and to look forward to a time when the UK is no more - certainly not as it stands now - and it looks very likely, with the way things are going in Scotland, that that could be sooner rather than later. What then? Are we willing to continue to be a neglected part of ENLANDandwales? (The UK will no longer exist if Scotland leave!) Or will we gain confidence from the Scots, and demand our own place in the world. I don't know, but I hope, and believe we are looking at independence within a generation! I never thought I would be able to say that!

Cibwr said...

The reality is that the union of Britain is no longer fit for purpose, the world has moved on. The European Union is a reality and if we want any say then we need to be at that top table, not subsumed into a sidelined and semi detached member of that European Union

Syd Morgan said...

Cynog Dafis is factually wrong about Plaid's early policy. Yes, Saunders Lewis initially said what is quoted but that was in the political context of (partitioned) Ireland which lost its republican status by the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1922. Later Saunders Lewis advocated Dominion status (read his election addresses), and that at the height of empire (1919-1947). With the British Empire crumbling and the "independence" de rigueur (if I can use a non-federal term), Plaid adopted the more modern phrase, which everybody understood. Of course, we then went through the semantic lunacy of 'full national status'. That too was initiated by Cynog at the Aberdâr Ysgol Haf - despite the objections of everyone else in the room - leading to about 5 wasted years of obfuscation until independence re-asserted itself. Now, via the political process called "internal enlargement", we aim to be a "Member-State" of the European Union.

And what is this "British Question"? I've never heard anyone ask it. What an insular idea. Welsh nationalism is a European and global ideology not some crabbed regional concept confined to the island of Great Britain. Anyway, after Scotland becomes independent, the UK won't be able to use that geographical description 'cause they'll only own half the territory. So Cynog wants us incorporated within the "United Kingdom of Southern Britain & Northern Ireland". What a poverty of ambition.

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