The Daily Wales and Wales Weekly

In the past couple of weeks I've come across two brand new online news sites for Wales which I think deserve wider attention.

The Daily Wales is now a month old, and publishes several articles each day.


Wales Weekly appears to have been going since the beginning of February, and publishes a few dozen articles each Thursday.

Wales is a nation with remarkably few home grown media outlets, so these two online sites are very welcome, and I wish them all the best.

Bookmark and Share

Catalunya's referendum

There was a report about the upcoming referendum on independence for Catalunya on Newyddion 9 this evening.

As it doesn't seem to be on the BBC website, I thought it would be a good idea to put it here for anyone who might have missed it.


Update - 11:51, 21 March 2014

The BBC have now put the report on their website, here, though without the video. That's good, because it means people can use Google or Bing to translate it.

But it does seem strange that there is no English language version of the story. If the BBC go to the trouble and expense of sending out a reporter and film crew to Barcelona, they could produce an English version as well with minimal extra work and at virtually no extra cost. Mind you, the same is true the other way round too.

Bookmark and Share

Unlocking the lockstep

I'm sure most readers of Syniadau will know this; but for any who don't, the "lockstep" is a provision that devolved income tax rates can only be varied by exactly the same amount in each tax band rather than varied individually.

This is already part of the Scotland Act 2012 (although it has not yet to come into effect) and is something that Westminster wants to impose on Wales too, even though it is against the specific recommendations of the Silk Commission. Part of the reasoning behind this seems to be that Wales should only have the same as Scotland ... which is completely bogus, because the same reasoning would mean that Wales should have the same model of devolution as Scotland and that the same things should be devolved to us as are devolved to them.


The news today is that the Scottish Labour Party have just published the recommendations of a commission they set up about further devolution to Scotland in the event that Scotland votes No in September. The Executive Summary is available by clicking the image:


Interestingly, one of the proposals is that the base from which the devolved portion of income tax is varied should go up from 10p in the pound to 15p in the pound, and that the lockstep should be removed. Except for one small detail ...

The Scotland Act enables the Scottish Parliament to increase or decrease income tax rates in Scotland. In addition to extending this power, we will also introduce new Scottish Progressive Rates of Income Tax, so that the Scottish Parliament can increase the rates of tax in the higher and additional bands. For the first time, the Scottish Parliament will be able to alter both the level of tax and the progressivity of the tax system, but without the risk that a Scottish Government could force tax competition within the UK by cutting only the top rates, to the detriment of public services. Labour in the Scottish Parliament would be able to use these powers if a UK Government did not set fair taxes at these levels.

Yes, under Labour's version of devolution the Scottish Parliament can only increase, but cannot decrease, the higher rates of income tax relative to the basic rate. In other words, it can only enact Labour's policies, not those of any party that might want to cut the higher rates of tax relative to the basic rate. This shouldn't come as too much of a surprise, for the members of the Commission are all Scottish Labour politicians.


One other amazing recommendation in the report is that Labour in Scotland are committing themselves to retaining the Barnett Formula:

The Barnett formula should remain as the funding mechanism for public services in Scotland.

As this aspect of the report was trailled beforehand, John Osmond has already written about it in this article on Click on Wales. I agree with him.

If Barnett is retained for Scotland, it will also have to be retained for Wales, and therefore any chance of replacing it with a new funding formula based on need goes out of the window. It means that Scotland will continue to receive some £4bn a year more than it would get under a needs-based formula, and that Wales will continue to receive some £300m a year less than we would get under a needs-based formula. And our shortfall will increase due to the Barnett Squeeze as spending on public services rises.

The reasons for this are quite understandable. They want Scotland to remain in the United Kingdom, and therefore they have little choice but to say that they have no intention of cutting Scotland's block grant. If they said anything else, it would encourage more Scots to vote Yes in September.

The message to Wales is quite clear: we are of no importance whatsoever.

But perhaps there is another message. Just as Labour in Westminster are not going to take a blind bit of notice of anything that Carwyn Jones as so-called leader of Welsh Labour might want, are they going to take a blind bit of notice of what the so-called leader of Scottish Labour, Johann Lamont, might want? After all, this report is by the Scottish Labour Devolution Commission, not Labour in Westminster. Why should Ed Miliband or Ed Balls be bound by it?

Nearly everyone in Westminster believes that the Barnett Formula is way past its useful life and needs to be replaced, so it would be foolish to think that even a Labour government in Westminster wouldn't seize the opportunity to save itself £4bn a year ... if the Scots vote No in the referendum.

Update - 12:28, 19 March 2014

I've added the video of last night's interview with Johann Lamont on Newsnight Scotland.


Gordon Brewer echoes the point I made when he says, regarding Barnett: "Surely even a Labour Government in London would say, 'You must be joking!'"

Bookmark and Share

Tony Benn

I'd like to pay my tributes to Tony Benn, one of the giants of democracy and left-wing politics, who died today.



Bookmark and Share

Attacking UKIP

I have to say that I was a little surprised by the way that Leanne focused on UKIP at Plaid Cymru's spring conference last weekend. It goes without saying that UKIP is a party which fully deserves criticism for its anti-EU and anti-immigration policies, but I wondered why we would want to single them out for criticism.

Fairly obviously, the context for Leanne's concern is the European Parliament election which is now only a couple of months away on 22 May. The last European election was in 2009 and, as a reminder, these were the results for Wales:

Conservative ... 21.2%
Labour ... 20.3%
Plaid Cymru ... 18.5%
UKIP ... 12.8%
LibDems ... 10.7%
Greens ... 5.6%

BBC, 2009 European Election Results

It seems hard to believe that Labour could do quite so badly in any election in Wales, but these were the dire days immediately following the 2008 banking collapse, and the Labour government in Westminster was all but dead on its feet.

Now, after nearly four years of the Tories and LibDems in power at Westminster, and with UKIP playing a political tune that both the Tories and Labour seem more than willing to dance to, the polls are indicating a very different result. This is from the YouGov ITV Wales political barometer, with the changes from the December poll in brackets:

Labour ... 39% (-2%)
UKIP ... 18% (+5%)
Conservative ... 17% (-3%)
Plaid Cymru ... 12% (-1%)
LibDems ... 7% (-5%)

Wales Political Barometer, February 2014

If this poll is anywhere near accurate, then the chances of Jill Evans retaining her seat look very bleak. This is how the seats would be distributed:

First seat ... Labour ... 39%
Second seat ... Labour ... 19.5%
Third seat ... UKIP ... 18%
Fourth seat ... Conservative ... 17%

Notional fifth seat ... Labour ... 13%
Notional sixth seat ... Plaid Cymru ... 12%
Notional seventh seat ... Labour ... 9.75%
Notional eighth seat ... UKIP ... 9%
Notional ninth seat ... Conservative ... 8.5%
Notional tenth seat ... Labour ... 7.8%
Notional eleventh seat ... LibDems ... 7%

There are, of course, only four Welsh seats available, but I've gone down the list to show how the voting system works. We in Plaid might comfort ourselves by thinking we are fourth in the polls and are therefore in with a shout for the fourth seat, and the LibDems might comfort themselves by saying they are fifth. But for the LibDems it is such a poor fifth place that they would only win a seat if Wales had eleven seats, and Plaid would only win a seat if Wales had six seats.

So in practical terms we can forget about the LibDems because they don't stand any chance of winning a seat. However there is a chance that Plaid can hold onto a seat, but only if we understand what we need to do to win and, in particular, where to target our attack.


The overall picture is that Labour are way out in front, and there is probably very little that will prevent them from easily topping the poll in Wales. There is also very little doubt that Plaid are not doing too well in the polls, for both UKIP and the Tories are ahead of us. In order to hold on to our seat, we must therefore do two things:

     Ensure that Labour don't get more than three times as many votes as Plaid
     Get more votes than either the Tories or UKIP

The first is not so big an ask. At 12%, Plaid are only marginally short of a third of Labour's share of the vote at 39%. We only have to up our share of the vote by a couple of percentage points to do it.

But the second is more problematic. It involves making the right tactical judgement about whether we need to beat the Tories or UKIP. In my opinion we should be aiming to beat the Tories rather than UKIP.

We should be under no illusion about UKIP's popularity. They are doing better in the polls than they have ever done before, and they always do better in European elections than they do in any other elections. For what it's worth, I think that UKIP are quite likely to top the poll in England, although I think they might fall short of topping the poll in the UK as a whole. Compared with the December poll, UKIP are already up 5% points ... and I think that rise will continue. When Nigel Farage has his big TV showdown with Nick Clegg on 2 April, is anyone in any doubt who will come out on top? Not even the Guardian is in any doubt about it. That's not because Farage will win the argument, but because UKIP have only two, simple points to make (anti-EU and anti-immigration) and he will just hammer them home relentlessly.

Plaid's tacticians therefore need to make this judgement. If UKIP's popularity is on the rise, then it is the Tories that we should be turning our fire on, not UKIP. At present, we seem to be focusing our attack on the wrong target.


To put things into perspective, we need to understand where UKIP's vote comes from. Helpfully, YouGov have just conducted a poll to ask this very question. The details are here, but in general those who are most likely to vote UKIP are very or fairly right wing, working class Tories, men over 60, and readers of the Daily Express or Daily Mail. No big surprise.


In terms of previous political affiliation, UKIP draw the majority of their new support from those who used to vote Tory. Disaffected Tory defectors to UKIP outnumber LibDem defectors by three to one, and Labour defectors by four to one.


These figures are important for this reason. Let's assume that potential UKIP voters take notice of Plaid's attack and decide to change their vote in May because of it. Who will they vote for instead? Very clearly, most of them will vote Tory. People primarily vote for UKIP because they are strongly anti-EU, so if they don't vote UKIP most of them will probably vote for the party that is the next most Euro-sceptic ... the Tories. But it is the Tories that we need to beat for Jill Evans to retain her seat. Therefore concentrating our attack on UKIP is in fact counterproductive. We can see this from the February Political Barometer: UKIP have risen 5% points since December, and that increase was primarily at the expense of the Tories, who lost 3% points.

As I see it, this is the sort of result we should be looking for:

Labour ... 36%
UKIP ... 23%
Plaid Cymru ... 15%
Conservative ... 14%
LibDems ... 6%

First seat ... Labour ... 36%
Second seat ... UKIP ... 23%
Third seat ... Labour ... 18%
Fourth seat ... Plaid Cymru ... 15%

Notional fifth seat ... Conservative ... 14%

This simply requires the same 5% point increase in UKIP's share of the vote as we have seen since December, coupled with the same 3% fall in the Tory share of the vote in the same period. All we then need to do is pick up a few percentage points on our own merits to just beat the Tories to the fourth seat. It's tight, but it can be done.

If it seems unlikely that the Tories should slip from topping the poll in Wales 2009 with 21.2% to losing their seat only five years later, the explanation is almost entirely to do with who is in power at Westminster. Labour, with Gordon Brown as Prime Minister and with an economy in freefall, were terribly unpopular in 2009 ... and a good part of the Labour-Tory floating vote went to the Tories as part of the normal Labour-Tory swing. Now the pendulum has swung the other way and the Tories (with their LibDem little helpers) are unpopular after four years of austerity for the poor and tax breaks for the well off. So of course the Tories are likely to lose support in Wales.


To be clear, I'm certainly not saying that Leanne was wrong to attack UKIP last weekend. UKIP's policies are diametrically opposite to those of Plaid, so of course we need to speak out against them. But what surprised me was that we should focus an attack on UKIP, but not put anywhere near the same effort into attacking Labour and, especially, the Tories.

With Labour so far out in front and all but guaranteed to win two seats in May, we need to beat either the Tories or UKIP in order for Jill to keep her seat. In this particular election there is no doubt that UKIP will do better than the Tories ... even in Wales. It therefore makes more tactical sense to concentrate our attack to pick off the weaker party rather than the stronger one.

Bookmark and Share

A new WM school in Grangetown/Butetown

Last week, Cardiff Council announced that they had reconsidered their previous decision to back track on their commitment to build a new one form entry Welsh-medium school in Grangetown – something which had already been approved by the Welsh Government and for which a share of funding had been arranged under the 21st Century Schools programme. Instead, they now intend to provide an additional 60 entry places for both Welsh- and English-medium education in the Grangetown/Butetown area, and have produced a shortlist of six sites that they consider suitable for development, as reported here.

This in itself is a major victory for both the parents who have been campaigning for it and for Neil McEvoy, who was able to use his position to "call in" the original decision.

The new proposals are set out in detail in this document, which is being considered by the Children & Young People Scrutiny Committee tonight. In this post I'd like to look at the shortlisted options.


The map below shows the six sites. Two are in Grangetown: Ninian Park Primary in green and Ferry Road (behind Channel View Leisure Centre) in turquoise. Four are in Butetown: Mount Stuart Primary in lavender, St Mary the Virgin CiW Primary in blue, St Cuthbert's RC Primary in orange and unused land just north of County Hall in yellow.


If the Ninian Park Primary site were to be developed, it would be as a permanent extension to replace the existing temporary accommodation, probably in the area marked on the picture below, which will involve taking a small piece of land from Sevenoaks Park. It could therefore only provide English-medium places. It is a two form entry school at present, and the extension would make it a three form entry school.


My guess is that the Ferry Road site would be the area shown in turquoise below. It is a relatively small site, but it might well be enlarged by relocating some of the car parking at Channel View Leisure Centre and/or by taking a small piece of the Marl in the same way developing Ninian Park would take a small part of Sevenoaks Park. I do not know the exact site boundaries Cardiff have in mind, but it is worth noting that they believe the site is large enough and suitable for a two form entry school in their report, with the play/sports facilities on the Marl being used by the school.

Personally, I would have no objection to this site being developed as a one form entry WM school, especially as the site is relatively small, but Cardiff have a preference for larger rather than smaller schools.


Therefore if there is to be a Welsh-medium School in Grangetown, this is the only one of the identified sites that could accommodate it. The only alternative to a WM school on this site would be one in Butetown.

It is perhaps worth noting that in this post, Labour Councillor Ashley Govier is quoted as saying that the plan is to create "a fully integrated site of play, leisure and school", which might be taken to include the Grangetown Play Centre to the right of it in the image. He might well have inside information not available to the rest of us, but I do not see any reason why the playgroup should not stay exactly where it is, and the new school be built to the left of it.


There are four identified sites in Butetown. Three of them involve building on the playing fields of existing schools, and one is a currently unused brownfield site.

Mount Stuart Primary is shown below. I would guess the most promising part of the site to develop is marked in lavender. The idea is to extend the existing school, making it a three form entry English-medium school. There is also the potential to enlarge the site onto the green public space to the west and the south of the site to compensate for this.


Cardiff have identified the need for an additional 60 English-medium entry places in Grangetown/Butetown, and I think the best way of achieving this would be to provide 30 of them at Ninian Park Primary and 30 of them at Mount Stuart Primary. However I might also say that although I think the figures for the overall numbers of additional children are probably right, I think that Cardiff are underestimating the numbers for WM schools and over-estimating the number for EM schools. They are working on an annual 4% "uplift".

St Mary the Virgin CiW school is shown below, and Cardiff have identified their playing field (marked in blue) as a site for development. I just can't see this working. Losing the playing field will affect the existing school very severely. For me, it's a non-starter. However I would not rule out creating some additional places at this school if there was a specific demand for more Church in Wales faith school provision. It might well be possible to build a small block of two or three classrooms immediately adjacent to the school without needing to build on the playing field.


The picture below shows two sites. The site shown in orange takes up part of the playing field of St Cuthbert's RC Primary and some adjacent land. I think it is possible to build a new wing to this school to increase it from a one form entry to a two form entry school, but I would again question whether there is specific demand for this many more Catholic faith school places, particularly as it would mean that the vital piece of maintained green space at Letton Road will be lost to the community. Providing just one or two additional classrooms could probably be done without having to take this public space.


In contrast, the site shown in yellow to the north of County Hall seems a much better proposition, and is so close both the St Cuthbert and St Mary's sites as to make no real difference in terms of travelling times. So why take much-valued playing space away from either of those two schools? To me, this seems an ideal site to develop as a two form entry school.


So it is now a question of choosing which of these options are best. So far as Welsh-medium education is concerned, there are only two practical possibilities from the six sites that Cardiff has shortlisted: either a new school at Ferry Road (turquoise) or a new school at County Hall (yellow). In my opinion, it would be better to develop the Ferry Road site, because Grangetown is more densely populated and has the greatest immediate demand for WM places.

For children in Grangetown to have to travel east to the County Hall site would be almost as inconvenient as for them to have to travel west to Pwll Coch. Schools in urban areas should be within easy walking distance. There are already four EM schools in Grangetown (Grangetown Primary, Ninian Park Primary, St Patrick's RC Primary and St Paul's CiW Primary) so it is only fair that there should now be an equally accessible Welsh-medium school in Grangetown as well.

Bookmark and Share

Traws Link Cymru

Thanks to a comment left by Old Miwl on this post, I've just found out about a new website dedicated to re-opening rail links in west Wales so as to provide a new north-south route.

This is what they say about themselves:

Traws Link Cymru is a campaign to re-instate rail links in west Wales. We’re calling for rail links between Carmarthen and Aberystwyth and between Afon Wen on the Cambrian Coast line and Bangor to create a rail corridor along the west coast of Wales. We believe that closure of these routes was a mistake which should be put right. We need a rail link to boost the economy, protect the environment and connect the nation.

Traws Link Cymru

There have been a number of different groups campaining for this, and I don't know whether this is a brand new one or a re-incarnation or amalgamation of old groups, but contact them at to find out more.


Meanwhile, I thought it might be a good idea to remind people of a video I put together some five years ago showing my suggestion for how a north-south rail link could be reinstated ... although my northern section isn't the same as the route proposed by Traws Link Cymru.


The video is just under 20 minutes long. If you click the bottom right hand button you can see it in full screen, but I've had to downgrade the quality slightly so that it still streams. Use the time slider to focus on any part of the route:

     Carmarthen ... 3:40
     Llanbedr Pont Steffan ... 6:30
     Aberystwyth ... 9:40
     Harlech ... 14:20
     Blaenau Ffestiniog ... 16:00

The new sections are from Carmarthen to Aberystwyth, and from the Cambrian line near Llandecwyn to Blaenau Ffestiniog. The first is mainly along the line of the old railway, but with some improvements (the old route is shown paler) and the second was mentioned in more detail here.

Bookmark and Share

More than a thousand

I'm now back after taking a few weeks off to enjoy the end of winter, and looking forward to getting my teeth into blogging again with renewed vigour.

While I was away, Syniadau reached a new milestone. I have now posted more than a thousand articles since the first one in April 2009, with the post on 18 February being the thousanth. That's something I'd like to celebrate with everybody who reads this blog.


In terms of popularity, the number of people who read Syniadau keeps increasing. These are the latest StatCounter graphs for weekly and monthly page loads, unique visitors and return visitors. The full details are on this page.



The figures are based on cookies, and different computers will have different cookie settings. A visitor who looks in several times a day will probably register that number of visits, provided they are more than an hour apart. But those who subscribe by email or by RSS feed will not register at all. So my best guess is that Syniadau has now reached the milestone of more than a thousand regular daily readers, and maybe another thousand who visit a few times a week.

Thank you.

To put things into perspective, we still have quite some way to go before reaching these dizzying heights, but at least the trend is in the right direction.

Bookmark and Share


Over the past three weeks readers of Syniadau will have read a series of posts about the disciplinary action taken by Plaid Cymru against me following a complaint by Elin Jones about what I wrote on the subject of the Ynys Môn by-election last year.

Rather than offer a running commentary, I took the decision to publish the complete correspondence between myself and the various people involved in a neutral and unvarnished way, because I think what has happened speaks for itself. Of course I realized that if I tried to do it all in one long post, nobody would read it through to the end, so I decided it would be more effective to publish the unfolding drama in a series of instalments. In fact I've written all the posts in this series in advance and scheduled them to be published automatically, one each day. Meanwhile, I decided to take what I'd like to believe is a well-deserved holiday ... killing two birds with one stone by giving me a break from politics, while at the same time giving everybody who reads Syniadau something to read while I enjoy the last few weeks of winter.

This is the last post in the series, and I'm writing it to explain why I have taken the decision to make what has happened public.


The first thing to note is that, throughout the disciplinary process, I have taken care to follow all the rules as set out in Plaid Cymru's Standing Orders. Unless we all act in accordance with an agreed set of rules, the party will descend into chaos. It was the Membership, Discipline and Standards Panel (the Hearing Panel is made up of three members of the MDSP) that broke these rules, and that is why my appeal against their decision was successful. They acted unjustly.

However, in now publishing what has happened I am still not breaking any of the rules set out in Standing Orders. Several people involved in the disciplinary procedure against me have tried to use Clause 9.1 of Standing Orders to make out that the procedure is confidential, but this simply isn't true. This is what Section 9 actually says:


9.1  No public statement regarding the circumstances or persons involved in a disciplinary procedure shall be made by any member other than the Chair of the Party until after the conclusion of any appeal or until after the last day for the making of an appeal in the event of no appeal being made.

Standing Orders for Membership, Discipline and Standards

There is no mention of confidentially in this clause or anywhere else in Standing Orders, and indeed the procedure cannot be confidential, for how else could an accused person take advice or have the right to choose to be represented by someone else at any hearing? The idea that the procedure is somehow confidential is completely bogus, but when this bogus claim gets repeated time and time again, it is hard to escape the conclusion that Chris, Dafydd and Alun were trying to intimidate me to avoid embarrassment to themselves. Such bully-boy tactics might work on others, but they won't work on me.

Clause 9.1 is not about confidentiality, it only restricts a member from making public statements until after the conclusion of any appeal. An appeal (whether it turns out to be the only one or not is irrelevant) has now been concluded, therefore I am perfectly free to make any public statement I wish. Once again people in positions of power in Plaid Cymru need to learn to read the rules as written, rather than ignore them or pretend that they say something different.


However, even though there is nothing in Standing Orders that prevents me from now speaking out about what has happened, I feel I need to make it clear why I am doing this. Despite what some people might think, it is definitely not because I want to damage the public reputation of Plaid Cymru. Quite the contrary, I am doing this in order to uphold our values and reputation as a party. Yes, I have exposed the lies, double standards, wrongdoing and hypocrisy of some people in positions of power within our party, and I make no apology for that, but I am doing this so that others in the party know about what is being done in their name and can take action to put these things right. Our reputation as a party will be enhanced, not damaged, if we are seen to do this. I have not, at least not yet, given up on Plaid Cymru. I am and I intend to remain a member of Plaid Cymru in order to fight for what I see as the soul of our party. Most people leave political parties because they don't agree with party policy; am I to go down in history as someone who is thrown out of my party because I do agree with party policy?

One crucial thing that makes us in Plaid Cymru different from Labour and the Tories is that our party policy is decided democratically by members at conference rather than imposed from on high by leaders or shadowy committees. It is explicitly set out in section 15.2i of our constitution that conference is responsible for determining the party's policy. No matter how "inconvenient" this may be for those in positions of power in the party, our rules are quite clear.

Time after time delegates and now ordinary members of Plaid Cymru have reaffirmed at conference our total opposition to the construction of any new nuclear power stations, without making any distinction between new nuclear power stations on new sites and new nuclear power stations on existing nuclear sites. We cannot let this, our right as members to decide policy, be hijacked by those who want to undermine what we have decided by telling lies about it, no matter what positions they hold in the party. It is the thin end of a very dangerous wedge.


As I see things, this is not particularly about me or any disciplinary procedure against me. As I said in my email to Leanne on this page, I regard this disciplinary procedure as a relatively minor matter. What is important is that we in Plaid Cymru should be clear in public about what our policy on nuclear energy is.

Over the past few years a series of high-profile Plaid Cymru politicians such as Elfyn Llwyd, Bob Parry, Dafydd Elis-Thomas and now Rhun ap Iorwerth have told blatant lies about our nuclear policy ... yet our leaders will not speak out to put the record straight. Although he probably didn't use these exact words, Edmund Burke is usually credited with saying, "all that is necessary for evil to triumph is that good men do nothing", and it's true. Because the leadership of Plaid Cymru have sat on their hands and done nothing, the lie that people such as Elfyn, Bob, Dafydd and now Rhun keep repeating has gained traction to the extent that most people in Wales probably believe it.

All I asked Leanne to do was to ensure that either she as our leader, or Llyr Gruffydd as our spokesman on energy, put the record straight by saying, explicitly, that it is not our policy to treat a new nuclear power station on or next to an existing nuclear site any differently from a new nuclear power station somewhere else. We need to make it clear beyond any shadow of doubt that Plaid's policy is one of total opposition to the construction of any new nuclear power stations.

But she hasn't done this, and neither has Llyr. In fact Llyr has gone out of his way to ignore the subject even when it cried out to be addressed. Only a few weeks ago he published a policy paper on energy, which is available here. In many ways it's a good paper, but it doesn't mention our policy on nuclear energy at all. How can we possibly have a policy on energy without it addressing the issue of nuclear power? By ignoring the elephant in the room, he has turned a good piece of work into something that cannot be seen as credible. For some hidden reason, the good people in our party who should be speaking out about our policy on nuclear energy have been silenced, and this means that the lies go unchallenged and gradually become accepted as fact.

Because I have been one of the few people in the party who has not been afraid to expose the lies that Elfyn, Bob, Dafydd and Rhun have told, the guns have now been turned on me. Rather than stand up for what they know is true, some people would prefer to maintain a false semblance of party "unity" by accepting these lies as if they were true. This is spineless capitulation, and I am not prepared to fall into line behind a lie. Silence implies consent, therefore I must speak out. It is because I have spoken out that people like Elin Jones want to punish me for it ... and she has found willing accomplices in those members of the MDSP who were prepared to ride roughshod over party rules in order to stitch me up.


To be clear, the MDSP not only rode roughshod over party rules in order to find me "guilty" of bringing the party into disrepute; they also rode roughshod over party rules in the way they refused to set up any investigation or take any action against Elfyn, Bob, Dafydd and Rhun for bringing the party into disrepute through their lies. If the minutes of the MDSP meeting are to be believed (and there is a very large question mark over that) the MDSP made the decision to ignore their wrongdoing, but neglected to inform me of that decision or give any reasons for it, even though they are specifically required to explain their reasons under Clause 3.5 of Standing Orders. I'm not at all surprised. There is no reason they could possibly give that wouldn't immediately be seen as hollow and ridiculous.

As a result of this decision, more than anything else, they have made Plaid Cymru a complete laughing stock. The members of the MDSP had a duty to treat my complaints against Rhun, Elfyn, Bob and Dafydd in exactly the same way as they treated Elin's complaint against me. Their refusal to act in an impartial and even-handed manner shows blatant bias and prejudice, has damaged the reputation of those responsible, and has brought shame and disgrace upon the party as a whole. Yet to add to that hypocrisy, it did not even enter their heads to want to "re-start" the disciplinary process against Rhun, Elfyn, Bob and Dafydd. They only want to "re-start" the disciplinary process against me.

Yet despite all their bluster, there is no provision under Standing Orders that allows the MDSP to "re-start" the disciplinary process after an appeal, and Dafydd Trystan acknowledged in his email of 4 February that there is no constitutional provision for it. Even so, I have said that I am prepared for there to be a new investigation. However the remit of any new investigation must include my complaints against Rhun, Elfyn, Bob and Dafydd, as well as Elin's complaint against me. Rhun, Elfyn, Bob and Dafydd must be formally told that their statements are being investigated as part of a disciplinary procedure against them and must be made subject to the same potential sanctions as I might be. The investigation must be carried out by someone of stature from outside the party, must itself reach firm conclusions as to culpability, and must be published. This is the only way to handle things fairly.


In short, those in positions of power in Plaid Cymru are now faced with a choice. On the one hand, if they insist on taking this matter further, it must be done on a level playing field and in the light of public scrutiny rather than behind closed doors. I have no doubt that a proper, independent investigation carried out by someone of stature from outside the party will find that Rhun, Elfyn, Bob and Dafydd have lied and misled the public, and that it is they who are guilty of damaging the public reputation of our party, not me. It's not often that I'll give the Liberal Democrats credit, but they undoubtedly did the right thing by referring the recent complaints against Chris Rennard to an independent QC. We should learn from them. No in-house investigation would or could be credible, because Chris Rennard in the case of the LibDems and Rhun, Elfyn, Bob and Dafydd in the case of Plaid Cymru are in positions of power within their respective parties.

But, on the other hand, if those in positions of power in Plaid Cymru are not prepared to do this, then it might be better for Elin to withdraw her complaint and for Alun to drop his threat of further disciplinary action against me. If they do this, then I will be happy to withdraw my complaints against Rhun, Elfyn, Bob and Dafydd.

I have no doubt that some people are incensed that I managed to foil a blatant attempt to stitch me up behind closed doors. People in positions of authority don't like being challenged. Egos have been bruised, tempers are frayed, and things now need to cool down. That's one reason why I decided that this would be a good time to take a break. I hope that by the time I get back in March, wiser counsel will prevail and the leadership of Plaid Cymru will step in to say that enough is enough. I'm sure we all have better things to do, not least fighting the next election. Jill Evans, as we can read here, was not intimidated by Bob Parry's lies when she spoke at a conference against nuclear energy in 2010, and it would be a tragedy if we did not come together as a party to make sure that someone who agrees with party policy keeps her seat in the European Parliament.

Bookmark and Share

Happy St David's Day

Dydd Gwyl Dewi hapus i bawb ohonoch chi.


The illustration is by Paul Bommer, and there are lots more of them here.

Bookmark and Share