Plaid leadership contenders face-off

Plaid leadership contendersBelow is a brief summary of the speeches given by the three Plaid Cymru leadership contenders in Cardiff on 2 February.

At the bottom of this post is the  video (14 minutes) of the actual speeches.

Synopsis

Dafydd Elis-Thomas

Breaking the ice with a little ‘Assembly humour’, Dafydd suggests we are entering in a new era for Wales and talks about the challenges that face us including changing climate, economics and the future constitution of the UK – given Scotland’s march to independence – wrapping up with a reference to a Roc Cymraeg oldy-goldy. The inference seems to be that these are uncertain, even historic times and steady hand on the helm is needed. He keeps his speech to a merciful 3½ minutes but only in Welsh which I found a little odd having discovered recently that he can speak English fluently.

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Elin Jones

Elin warns us not to think that Scotland and Wales are comparable on our roads to independence and then goes on to highlight Plaid’s highest priority – “rescuing communities from this recession” and creating a “second industrial revolution” – “all of this is within our control”. She emphasised the need to broaden the appeal of the party to the majority. She is ready to lead party, and even topple Carwyn Jones to become the next Prif Weinidog. She reminds us she has been a long-term politician and underlines her good leadership characteristics: experience and ambition. She spoke for 6½ minutes.

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Leanne Wood

Leanne launched into the need to reform a failed capitalist system that was “exposing poor and vulnerable people” and threatens the welfare state. Solutions included harnessing renewable energies, combating climate change, by means of [state?] control over natural resources. Her top priority is jobs and economy. “Real independence is a means to an end, not the end in itself”. The goal is to get the power to protect communities, language, and “build communities from bottom up”. In her Wales, “everyone who can work – does!”. To achieve these goals she tells us we need “full control” over resources and the economy (which justifies independence). She spoke for 4 minutes.

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Review  (the Verdict)

It’s hard to tell where Dafydd is coming from. He keeps his cards close to his chest. Elin and Leanne throw what they believe to be their best cards down on the table.

I have no doubt that Dafydd would make a good diplomat. When I’m President of the Welsh Republic I will not hesitate in selecting him to head up diplomatic missions to a troubled areas, such as England. Dafydd is clearly the ‘safe choice’.

Both Elin and Leanne present similar versions of “it’s the economy, stupid” theme characterising Wales as “poor and vulnerable” needing “protecting” and “rescuing”.

Although their intentions may be honourable their approach is worrying. Coupled with a religious-like desire for ‘full control to fix the system and save their people’ Elin and Leanne are concocting a recipe for an oppressive, controlling governance ‘for our own good’.

Many years ago I might have been inspired by their rhetoric of championing the downtrodden and building the New Jerusalem. But I have long since replaced those comic books for instruction manuals on how things really work.

Sure, Wales has deep systemic problems, as does the entire Western World, but it’s still a place where the English are moving to in the thousands. Mass English immigration is more of a threat to Welsh nationhood than the economy. Our real vulnerability is our open borders.

The economy could be easily corrected without oppressive government interference. We simply need to find the courage to say ‘enough is enough’ to private banks’ fraudulent control of the money supply.

The spirit of genuine democracy and true independence is anarchistic in nature. Only when ‘we the people’ become empowered, both politically and financially, will we be truly free and independent.

When it comes to the ‘perfect leader’ I like what Lao Tzu wrote many many centuries ago:

“Of the great leaders the people will say we did it ourselves.”

in other words, the best leaders inspire and enable – not proscribe.

Plaid Cymru leader contenders – in a nutshell

BBC sent out number of identical questions to the four hopefuls to become the new leader of Plaid Cymru and has published their answers on four separate web-pages – which makes comparison difficult.

plaid-cymru-leader-candidates-2012

 

Additionally, when you cut out the fluff (a disease most British politicians seem to be plagued with) we can make fast and useful comparrisons of their postions.

Below are the 6 BBC questions and the abridged answers below for easy comparison:

Q: Why did Plaid go backwards at the last assembly election?

Dafydd Elis-Thomas: Lack of ‘electability’ – not credible enough.

Elin Jones: Lack of ambition and clear national vision.

Simon Thomas: Our message was confused and not getting through.

Leanne Wood: Not forward looking enough.

Q: Is it true, as Eurfyl ap Gwilym says, that some Plaid candidates and spokespeople need to pull their socks up?

Dafydd Elis-Thomas: My socks are made in Wales.

Elin Jones: Yes we need to work harder and be more focussed.

Simon Thomas: I do think the whole party has to up its game.

Leanne Wood: Yes – No member of Plaid Cymru is exempt!

Q: How can Plaid strike the balance between calling for independence and avoid “appearing to be interested in constitutional matters only”?

Dafydd Elis-Thomas: Sustainable development, effective use of natural resources.

Elin Jones: Wales needs more powers to create a fairer society and stronger ecomony.

Simon Thomas: Fight for the control and ownership of our natural resources.

Leanne Wood: Focusing on the economy and jobs.

Q: Do you expect to see an independent Wales in your lifetime?

Dafydd Elis-Thomas: Yes

Elin Jones: Not sure.

Simon Thomas: Yes

Leanne Wood: Yes.

Q: After years of trying to promote the party as representing everyone in Wales, why did the review find there was still a perception that you are perceived as the “Welsh-speaking party”?

Dafydd Elis-Thomas: Excuses are made for a lack of real political engagement.

Elin Jones: Ours is a vision for the nation, not any one constituent part.

Simon Thomas: Plaid’s message needs to be heard in a different accent.

Leanne Wood: I’m not sure.

Q: Should Plaid be called the Welsh National Party in English?

Dafydd Elis-Thomas: No, “the party of Wales” is better than “Welsh National Party”

Elin Jones: It’s not important. It’s a matter for the party as a whole.

Simon Thomas: No, the party already has an English name – the party of Wales.

Leanne Wood: No – it’s mere cosmetic change.

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So who’s the winner? Here’s my take:

1 point for Dafydd for his Welsh socks 😀

minus 1 point for Elin for waffling on an independent Wales in our lifetime.

minus 1 point for all 4 candidates on being too conservative not open to reconsidering the party name in English.

(When you consider the fact that the name of the party is possibly the only thing a majority of voters know about Plaid Cymru, or consider when it comes to marking their X, the name could be the single most important factor. This is a case of the candidates not seeing the forest because the trees are in the way.

Additionally, the current use of the term ‘Plaid’ for Plaid Cymru, or in other words, a singular ‘Party’ or more accurately in English – ‘The Party’ – has some creepy Staninesque overtones.)

Final tally – Dafydd narrowly wins with the humour factor! But none of the four rocked me with their vision or inspired me with their drive and ambition. Seems like they have spent too much time in committee-land secure in their fortress called the Assembly. As a result they start to sound like their masters – the bureaucratic chieftains.

What do you think?

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If you want to read the entire transcripts the BBC links are below:

Dafydd Elis-Thomas

Elin Jones

Simon Thomas

Leanne Wood

The candidtes have their own websites;

Dafydd Elis-Thomas

Elin Jones

Leanne Wood

(I have been unable to source a website for Simon Thomas. If such a website exists please put it in the comments section below)