Silly Boy

At the beginning of June I noted that Dafydd Elis-Thomas was indulging in some very odd behaviour. He was clearly very unhappy with the decision of Plaid Cymru members not to elect him as leader, and unable to come to terms with the policy positions and direction that the party had decided to take even before the leadership contest.

But the conclusions I came to then seem even clearer in the light of today's events:

His ego wants him to become a cabinet minister, and Labour is his ticket to that. But if he chooses to walk, he knows he has absolutely no chance of being re-elected in 2016. Therefore his best hope is to be pushed ... or at least to make it appear that he was pushed.

He could then portray himself as the unfairly treated victim of Plaid's "new hardline Stalinist leadership" and hope to garner enough sympathy among local members to split the party, get some people to work for him, and give him at least a slim chance of being re-elected.

I can't do it myself, please push me – Syniadau, 2 June 2012

Dafydd has a simple choice to make. If he wants to leave Plaid Cymru he should have the courage to do that and accept the consequences of his decision. But he doesn't have that sort of courage. Instead he has, and I think will, increasingly resort to petty, sniping behaviour against the party and his colleagues in the party, knowing that we cannot keep on tolerating it and will eventually have to take action against him to prevent him making a laughing stock of the party.

After what he said today I don't think we had any real choice but to withdraw the whip from him. What he does next will determine whether or not it is withdrawn permanently.

I'm sure psychologists would call what he's doing a classic case of manipulative, passive-aggressive behaviour. But in simpler terms, he's behaving like a silly boy and needs to be treated like one.

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Anonymous said...

He's paid to be an AM not a certificate-hander outer. His attitude is a disgrace and his willingness to make an issue of this rather than the impending closure of Bryn Beryl and other NHS services in his constituency show where his priorities lie = himself every time

Anonymous said...

If he felt so strongly about the matter he should have turned up at his place of work (the Assembly) and argued the case before voting with the government rather than buggering off to Bangor. Or perhaps he just likes dressing up?

MH said...

To be fair, I don't actually think being away from the Assembly was the big issue. There will be occasions when AMs have prior engagements.

What was wrong was that instead of saying something like, "I'm sorry I couldn't be there, but it wouldn't have made any difference to the outcome because it needed two more votes and wouldn't have been binding anyway" (which might well have made him look mature and sensible) he felt he had to fire off a few more verbal potshots at the party.

It was gratuitous and unnecessary. If that's what he thinks (and he has every right to think it) the mature and constructive thing to do is to say it to your colleagues in private, not to television cameras in public.

Cibwr said...

I have doubts that the no confidence motion was wise, so have a small amount of sympathy with some of his views. But to defy a 3 line whip and then to make negative comments about his party and claim that it was acting as the Tories poodles, on top of all his other negative comments in the last few weeks..... I think your analysis is spot on.

Does the offer of a cabinet seat still hold for him if he defects?

Anonymous said...

Get real, all of you. Dafydd Elis-Thomas is my AM, and we think the world of him up here.

Anonymous said...

You can't trust him. I would have voted for him as leader, I wanted to want to vote for him! But he didn't bother preparing a speech, his answers were rambling if answers at all. He treated the whole thing as being below him and a joke. He was, simply, insulting to the Plaid members.

I too understand the difficulty facing health, but this was also an issue of a government commissioning an independent report which wasn't independent. It was about civil society in Wales which feels it has to agree with the government to get its next job.

This was about sending Labour a message not to take Wales for granted and to stop blaming the nasty Tories for every decision they take.

Anonymous said...

08:25. Rest assured that no matter how highly you think of him, he will he will always think more highly of himself.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a valid reason for not turning up. The problem for me is the comments he made to the Bbc. If you disagree with the party line as an AM you should have the argument behind closed doors then present a united front in public. He was elected as a Plaid Cymru AM not an independent. If you don't want to abide by the party's positions don't use the Plaid Cymru ticket at elections FFS.

Anonymous said...

I think LW has a massive test on her hands now - if you see his twitter feed you'll see he is still at it!

But I seriously think DET has misjudged the situation too.

Labour alone has everything to gain from this and nobody else.

1. If DET stays then he will be paid for the party which Labour can spin. There is no guarantee that he will vote for the budget.

2. If he leaves, then this will look bad in the short term for Plaid (another defection) and Labour would have the backing of another AM (giving them the magic 31). Whether he joins the party I'm not sure, it's likely he'd be an independent.

As for DET, I think he has made it clear that he will run again for office. If he leaves Plaid then he will not get elected in DM. He is not that popular in DM, indeed I'd suggest that the whole of Dwyfor (not Mei) vote for him purely he is Plaid.

He needs Plaid more than he needs them.

There is also talk of a Ministerial role. I now think this is possible, however if he does do this the respect that some (very few now!) have for him will now go.

Overall, I think LW has to say to him that if he comes out publicly and gives a massive apology about what he has done, and firmly commits to LWs leadership and her vision he should be allowed to stay. If he doesn't I think LW has no choice but to kick him out (not literally*). If this is the case then she should do it over the summer so they are not humiliated in y Senedd.
One thing is for sure: the disciplinary board should not create some spin to allow him to stay.

*The party must create an environment where he chooses to leave - not where he is seen as a victim.

Labour are loving this. But if I was DET I'd be very careful.

Isn't it ironic he said he was a 'sustainable leader' yet his recent actions are unsustainable!.

On the issue of being in Bangor. I agree AMs should be allowed to do things away from the Senedd the odd days - but he has been away from work for a WHOLE week. Not meeting constits, not going on a fact finding machine but shaking peoples hands.

Anonymous said...

Mae gan Dafydd fwyafrif mawr iawn ac mae'r etholwyr tu cefn iddo. Rhyw rai yn y Blaid sy'n ceisio ei wthio allan. Peidiwch rwan, os nad ydych am ddarnio'r Blaid.

Anonymous said...

Dim o gwbl. Mae gan PLAID CYMRU fwyafrif mawr iawn ac mae'r etholwyr tu cefn IDDI.

Anonymous said...

Dafydd stood on a coherent and plausible platform of coalition with Labour, in the leadership election. He was defeated. Have some dignity man, and work with Leanne and Elin not against them.

There is surely a chance for a next generation Plaid figure to come through in Dwyfor Meirionydd. It would be unfair to name people because that would drag them into this row, but there are plenty, including women.

Anonymous said...

It's the 'cŵn bach i'r Toriaid' (Tory lapdogs) which really offended me. How does opposing Labour make PC lap-dogs to the Tories? Is DET now Labour's spin doctor?

Totally unnecessary and gratuitous of someone who was elected as a PC member.

DET knows full well if a Rainbow Coalition had to implement these changes - changes Labour failed to fix when the economy was good - Labour would oppose every single bed closure, every time. There'd be calls of 'the death of the NHS' and 'saving the NHS' etc etc. There'd be no sensible debate about it at all.

That's not an argument for opposing everything, but Labour had 13 years to sort this out, and they didn't.

Anonymous said...

Labour in opposition would oppose NHS reconfiguration tooth and nail.

MH said...

I was quite impressed with what Dyfrig Jones had to say on his blog. There will be occasions when elected representatives feel they cannot follow the party line on a particular issue. In those cases, they talk it over with their colleagues, but if they can't persuade the group to change its policy the best thing to do is abstain, and that is (in effect) what Dafydd did. The problem is that he obviously didn't tell anyone else in the Assembly group that he was going to do that, and that's why his unexplained absence is an issue ... as well, of course, as what he said in the TV interview, which I think is a much more serious issue.

Dafydd clearly wants to provoke us to throw him out of the party. But let's not indulge him so readily. He might well be acting like a spoilt and unruly child, but he is still part of our family and therefore our problem. Disciplinary action against him is necessary, but it should be proportionate and designed to put things right rather than make the situation worse. If he is no longer a party member, he will remain an elected AM and there would be nothing we could do to stop him joining whatever party he liked or voting in whatever way he liked in his remaining four years. That won't do us as a party any good ... but more importantly it won't do the people of Wales any good.

Yet that doesn't mean we can do nothing to discipline him. I think we can and should do two things:

1. We should take away his portfolio in the Senedd

This will mean that he becomes an ordinary backbencher who does not officially speak for the party on any issues. There is nothing unusual about this. In fact is the way that all parties deal with those who are unable to support their leadership either in government or in shadow government.

Currently – or at least up until yesterday – Dafydd was our spokesman on Rural Affairs, Fisheries and Food. Whatever action the party might (or might not) take against him as a party member, Leanne should reshuffle her cabinet to give another AM that responsibility. If that means every Plaid AM except Dafydd has a role as spokesperson in a policy area, the signal it will send to Dafydd himself as well as to everyone else will be that much clearer.

2. We should remove him from Plaid Cymru's list of approved candidates for elections

The real solution is to make sure that Dafydd is not a Plaid Cymru AM after 2016. We can do that perfectly well by removing him from the list of approved candidates.

That would be a powerful signal, but not a particularly damning one. All we'd be saying is that the party has other members who are better suited to stand at future elections than he is, just as (if we follow my first recommendation) the party has other AMs who are better suited to speak about policy issues on behalf of the party than he is.

Will he like it? Of course not. No discipline is pleasant at the time, but there is hope in it. Hope that Dafydd might yet reconsider his behaviour and do his best to get the restrictions lifted. It puts the onus on him, and is designed to force him to take responsibility for his actions.

But if his pride or vanity get in the way, he is free to leave us. But it will be his decision, and he will have to find the backbone to take it.

maen_tramgwydd said...

I predicted that he would prove a problem for whoever was elected leader, on here and elsewhere. I believe it is in the nature of this man to be difficult. He would be a problem in any party.

He was soundly defeated in the leadership election, and it was predictable. Sooner or later he has to be given his marching orders, as a leopard cannot change its spots. He will cause damage as long as he remains in the party.

I think that Dwyfor Meirionydd are bonkers if they support his behaviour. He should be told now that there is no possibility of re-selection.

Anonymous said...

So, Dafydd, why should I bother being a Plaid member?

What's it for?

Na, wir, Dafydd, be' dwi'n gwneud yn y Blaid? Ydw i'n dwp, ydw i'n gwastraffu fy amser? Teimlo felly i mi.

Aelod Cyffredin,

MH said...

Some interesting comments by Dafydd in this report by the BBC.

He said he had asked permission to be absent in order to attend a ceremony he had been at every year since 2001.

"What I do resent is the idea that I was absent without leave," he told the BBC.

From this, it looks like he is condemning himself. If he did ask for "permission to be absent" he must surely be acknowledging that he needed to ask permission. The fact that there was a three line whip makes it perfectly clear that if he did ask, permission was refused. In that case he was "absent without leave" ... which is an accusation that he says he "resents". A liar is usually found out by the contradictions in his story. He can't have it both ways.

On the other hand, it is possible that he did not ask for permission, in which case he would now be telling lies to the media in order to cover his backside. He might well have either said, "Stuff you, I don't agree with what you're doing, so I'm going to that ceremony whether you like it or not" or simply didn't tell Leanne or Jocelyn (the party whip) what he was doing.

Anonymous said...

As a Plaid member for over 20 years this is the most depressing event ever. Why do I bother. Labour are dancing in the street. What does DET want? What's his vision for Plaid? How does he think this helps DET? How do people in Meirion Dwyfor think this helps Plaid.

Why should I bother being a member. Plaid people - Adam Price, EapG and others - have put hours of work into preparing a detailed economic document. Why bother?! DET has ruined it all.

Seriously thinking if it's worth continuing being a member. Diolch Dafydd.

MH said...

I wouldn't be so concerned, Anon 10:59. Plaid Cymru doesn't need Dafydd Elis-Thomas. We overwhelmingly said no to him as leader and no to the direction in which he wanted to take the party. The only person who has any trouble with that is him, he cannot come to terms with being rejected.

I don't think his local support is very strong either. He may well have the unanimous support of his constituency committee, but I think the opinion of him in most branches in his constituency will be rather different from the picture he wants to paint. He's trying to big himself up.

Provided that Plaid Cymru doesn't fudge the disciplinary issue, I think this will turn out well for the party in the longer term. Dafydd has been itching to pick a fight, and if he (and the wider public) is now clearly shown who's boss it will enhance Leanne's stature as leader of the party and the direction in which we are moving as a party.

Dafydd is essentially a defeatist. For him, Plaid Cymru can be nothing more than a small player on the political stage, and must therefore decide whether to align itself with Labour or with the Tories. For Dafydd it is all about being a lapdog, and the only thing that matters to him is that Plaid should be Labour's lapdop rather than the Tories' lapdog.

We are more ambitious for our party and for Wales as a nation. Our aim is to take on Labour and beat them. Dafydd just doesn't have the guts for that sort of fight.

Rydd said...

Anon 10:59- don't worry about it. Labour will always enjoy Plaid's discomfort but they don't particularly need it to happen. Don't get the wrong impression from twitter. They don't actually care about us that much.

It would be much worse had he won the leadership election. We would be seeing defections and people leaving the party all over the place.

Anonymous said...

"A liar is usually found out by the contradictions in his story. He can't have it both ways."

There is an alternative explanation though isn't there: DET asked, someone acknowledged or gave permission, Leanne Wood didn't know that and instituted disciplinary action....until she found out the facts when she...dropped all talk of disciplinary action and reinstated the whip.

Yep! that works.

MH said...

I would simply repeat what I said before, Anon. If he asked permission to be absent, it is an acknowledgement that he required that permission. Therefore all that matters is whether he received permission or not. "Acknowledgement" is not the same thing at all, it would imply that Dafydd took it for granted that he could do what he wanted ... but it sounds plausible to me, in that it would be typical of his attiude of distain for what others in the Plaid Assembly group think.

I read what Gareth Hughes said in his blog. He claims that Dafydd was at first granted permission to be absent, but that the party then had "second thoughts" on the eve of the vote. If this is true, then I would have some sympathy for Dafydd and understand why he was annoyed. It would not justify what he said in the interview, but might explain it. For it would not be a professional way to manage the business of the party.

However at the time the suspension of the whip was announced Dafydd was described as having been absent without good reason. You want to make out that Leanne did not know the facts and that disciplinary action was dropped when she did find out. I would only say that the same would be true of every other member of the Assembly Group as well. If any of the AMs had known of the supposed permission Dafydd had obtained, the panel would surely not have been set up at all. In short, I think it is highly unlikely that he ever received permission to be absent, and he therefore was absent without leave.

He might well think he had a good reason to be absent, but that's not the point. The mature and constructive thing to do is to make your case to your colleagues in private beforehand, not to television cameras in public afterwards. What he said on Wednesday was childish, immature, and deliberately intended to bring the party and its leadership into disrepute. If it were up to me, he would be disciplined for that alone.

In short the picture I get (and not just from this episode) is one of Dafydd simply not being bothered to communicate with his colleagues at all. He evidently thinks it is beneath him.

Anonymous said...

I don't know MH; but neither do you. If I understand DETs explanation (such as it is) He notified that he would be absent WHEN THERE WASN'T a three line whip. In other words, it wasn't a big deal that he intended to honour a long time commitment rather than vote in what he perceived as a lost cause. Subsequently the leading opposition party insisted that all parties should put a three line whip in place. DET probably was told that the Tories were insisting on the Whip and DET seems to have puffed out his chest and said "since when do Tories tell ME what to do?"

He has a point. Plaid need to be careful. I'm not denying DET's culpability in making his thoughts public; Leanne has a right to expect discretion and party (if not personal) loyalty.

I ask you this: If DET's analysis of Plaid as Tory lapdogs gains credence in the Valleys what electoral advantage has Plaid got in having Leanne as leader?

maen_tramgwydd said...

All Leanne is doing is putting off the evil day. He should have been drummed out of the party years ago. By today he would be someone else's problem.

As PO he was in a position where the damage he could do to Plaid was minimised. His attitude during the leadership contest, both on TV and in the hustings, indicated to me that he would be a real problem to whoever was elected, and that has proved to be the case.

The damage he is causing to the party, which is trying to recover after a decade of poor leadership, is unacceptable. Sooner or later, Leanne has to bite the bullet and give him his marching orders. His monumental ego cannot be tamed. A head-on collision is inevitable, simply a matter of time.

Anonymous said...

What' s the difference between a tory lap-dog and a labour lap-dog? Remember the effect of disiplinary action in Llanelli!!!!!!!

MH said...

Of course I don't know exactly what happened, Anon, but I don't need to. The point I made was that Dafydd's account is self-contradicting, and therefore at least some of the story he's putting out cannot be true.

You have now changed the account again. According to you he "notified that he would be absent". That is very different from what he said to the BBC in the report I linked to, namely that he asked permission to be absent. So the question is whether he received it. If he did then it is inconceivable that disciplinary action against him would have been initiated. So the only reasonable conclusion is that he didn't, and he was therefore absent without leave.

The Tories have only been thrown in as a red herring. Dafydd is under the Plaid whip, not the Tory whip, and he is answerable to Plaid. His objection isn't, as you claim, being told what to do by the Tories, but being told what to do by his own party leader. He seems to think that the rules of being in the Plaid Group in the Assembly don't apply to him. That's his real problem.

And, as it seems to have escaped everybody's attention, I would remind people that it was actually a LibDem motion. Does that mean that both the Tories and Plaid are the LibDem's lapdogs? That's how ridiculous the whole idea is.


In response to your last question, I would say that the it is much more dangerous for Plaid's electoral prospects if we are seen as being Labour's lapdogs. If Plaid, as would have been the case under Dafydd's leadership, are always going to seek to be in coalition with Labour, what on earth is the point of anyone voting Plaid? People would just vote for the real thing rather than the pale imitation.

And when people become dissatisfied with Labour (as they surely will at some time in the future) they wouldn't then vote Plaid; they would be forced to vote for the Tories or LibDems instead.

From Dafydd's point of view, Plaid should just be the voice of the Labour party in those parts of Wales where Labour can't get elected under their own name. Yes, it would mean that the Fro Gymraeg is still elects a handful of Plaid AMs, but it would would be a disaster for Plaid in those parts of Wales where Labour is already strong.

The name of the game is to beat Labour, not to play second fiddle to their lead.

MH said...

I tend to agree, MT. In 2010, when Dafydd hinted that he would not stand again as Llywydd, I said in this comment that he wouldn't be able to make the transition back to being a party AM.

"He has been Llywydd for some time now, and even though the constitutional implications of the role are not as well defined as they would be for the Speaker of the Commons at Westminster, I am very uncertain about whether it would be wise for him to seek to re-enter the Assembly as a normal AM. Unlike the Speaker of the Commons, his seat has been contested ... but hardly seriously, since it is rock solid Plaid territory.

I think it would be a grave political error for him to try and be a normal AM again. Players can become referees, but I don't think it is a good idea for referees to become players. So I would urge him not to do it, and urge the party to act if that is what he is intent on doing."

As a party we didn't act (though with Ieuan as leader, perhaps that's not a surprise) even though the writing was clearly on the wall, and we are now paying a heavy price for it. Dafydd's life revolves around status and position. Having spent twelve years being above party rules in the Senedd, it was naïve to think that he would willingly subject himself to those rules again.

But I don't think it is necessary or desirable to kick him out of the party. We just need to put him in his place within the party. I'll repeat again that we should do two things:

First we should take away his portfolio, so that he no longer officially speaks for Plaid in any policy area in the Senedd. That is entirely in Leanne's hands as party leader. She can reshuffle her shadow cabinet in any way she wants. Withdrawing the whip is (at least for now) the wrong thing to do, but withdrawing his portfolio is entirely appropriate.

Second, we must ensure that Dafydd cannot stand as a Plaid candidate in the next elections. The way to do this is to remove him from the list of approved candidates. This decision rests in the hands of the party's National Executive, and that is where the real battle will take place. We have just over three years to make sure he never stands as a Plaid candidate again.

Anonymous said...

With regard the process, my understanding is that DET was originally paired with a Labour AM for this week's Plenary Session but Labour, naturally, withdrew the whip as soon as the motion became an issue of confidence in the Health Minister and issued a 3 line whip, as did the other parties. The Plaid group then rightly requested all members to be in the Chamber for this important debate and DET said he wouldn't attend - with no explanation to the group apart from the fact that he wanted to stay in Bangor. He then decided to communicate with the group through the media. What needs to be considered in this case is that this was not a vote on whether Labour's proposals re the NHS were right or wrong. It was a vote on whether the Health Minister misled the Assembly by claiming that the Marcus Longley report making the case for change was 'independent' when clearly it was not.

MH said...

That sounds quite plausible, Anon 13:06 (though obviously you mean Labour withdrew the pairing arrangement, not the whip, in case anybody is confused).

The issue is not Labour's NHS reorganization proposals, and it is only indirectly about the no confidence motion. But I'm not surprised that Dafydd, and now Cynog Dafis, are trying to talk up these things rather than the matter of Dafydd's attidude towards the rest of the Assembly Group and his refusal to consider himself accountable to Leanne as leader.

The rights and wrongs of Labour's policy are a matter of debate, as is the most effective way of trying to get them to revise their plans. But Dafydd and now Cynog are using it as a smokescreen to draw attention away from Dafydd's bad behaviour.


Taking a few steps back, I think we're seeing a final rearguard defiance from those who haven't come to terms with Leanne's leadership. Leanne was directly elected as leader by the membership; who have a clear idea of what Plaid is for. This gives her all the mandate she needs. However there are some in tiers of power within the party that don't exactly see things the same way, and were probably quite content with a party that wasn't so clear about its aims. So there are very real power struggles taking place behind the scenes, which malcontents like Dafydd want to bring out into the public arena.

It will probably take a couple of years before National Executive, National Council and some of the local power bases like Constituency Committees come to reflect the same overwhelming support for Leanne as has been shown by the membership as a whole. But I'm confident it will happen, especially as members consider who they vote into such positions when the next votes take place.

Anonymous said...

"the same overwhelming support for Leanne as has been shown by the membership as a whole."

Really? 2879 voting members thought that Leanne was the best choice but 3,162 thought that she wasn't.

Of DET's supporters 447 reckoned that Leanne was second best choice but 610 thought that Elin Jones was. 221 wanted no one but DET.

We don't know how many of Elin Jones supporters wanted anyone BUT Leanne. We do know that 831 of DET's supporters wanted anyone BUT Leanne.
There is the possibility that Leanne Wood is unpopular with a significant minority of Plaid members and so I think that the claim that "Overwhelming support" has been shown to her by the membership is a bit dubious....particularly after Welsh voters in general rejected Plaid in the local elections there may have been many "second thoughts".

Anonymous said...

Anon 10.18

Leanne's margin in the election would have been the envy of most contenders for leader in any party.

Anonymous said...

Second thoughts?? Pathetic.

You're clutching at straws. You lost. You came last.

Stop this silly campaign to re-run the leadership election. Accept the result and get on with the rest of your life.

Anonymous said...

It's a little bit disturbing that Anon 10.18 is actually a real person, that has been crunching those numbers, and trying to suggest that "211 wanted no one but DET" is a good thing!

Contrast this with the dignified way Elin Jones has accepted the result and is a team player and now Deputy Leader of the group.

Anonymous said...

It was not necessary at all for DET to attend the graduation at Bangor. Many universities have deputies presiding at degree ceremonies. It was a feeble excuse used to undermine Leanne Wood.

His whole psychological make-up can be summarized in a few words - "mab y mans", son of the manse. These people, especially the Methodists, can never have enough attention as they have been brought up to think that they have an 'elect' position in society.

Has anyone noticed that it is in DET's constituency that Llais Gwynedd is the major party in the council elections? I wonder why?!!

Anonymous said...

Di-Enw 17:16

(Fel un sydd yn fab y mans o'r Hen Gorff, mae dy syniadau tipyn yn annheg! Dydi plentyn ddim yn cael dewis ei rieni.

Dydw i ddim yn credu am eiliad fod gennyf le etholedig mewn cymdeithas, na breintiedig chwaith.

Paid felly a beio rhai fel fi am wendidau yr Arglwydd)

DET left the Presbyterian Church of Wales and embraced Anglicanism and the Establishment. Having said that, I have nothing but respect for Dr Barry Morgan, who has stood up for Wales in a dignified way, and in my humble opinion has achieved considerably more for his country than the Lord.

In my opinion the latter has damaged the party in the past by his remarks, is damaging it now, and I have no doubt that he will continue to do so in the future. Shame on him.

MH said...

I hope you meant the former, 18:02. Barry Morgan would be a rather more formidable enemy.

Anonymous said...

I referred to his Lordship in my final paragraph, in case there was any doubt. 'Latter' referred back to 'Lord' in the previous sentence.

Anon 18:02

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