- History of Plaid Cymru
party_name = Plaid Cymru — The Party of Wales
party_articletitle = Plaid Cymru
leader = Ieuan Wyn Jones AM
chairman = Cllr. Dafydd Iwan
August 5, 1925
international = none | european =
European Free Alliance
europarl = Greens-EFA
colours = Yellow
headquarters = 18 Park Grove,
Cardiff, CF10 3BN
website = [http://www.plaidcymru.org/ www.plaidcymru.org]
"See also "
"Plaid Cymru; The Party of Wales" (IPA:/plaɪd ˈkəmri/; often referred in common speech simply as "Plaid") originated after a 1925
National Eisteddfodmeeting, held in Pwllheli, Gwynedd. [John Davies, "A History of Wales", Penguin, 1994, ISBN 0-14-014581-8, Page 547]
Representatives from the "Army of the Welsh Home Rulers" ("Byddin Ymreolwr Cymru") and "The Welsh Movement" ("Y Mudiad Cymreig"), both founded only the previous year, agreed to meet and discuss the need of a "Welsh party".Davies, "op cit", Page 547]
Founded originally under the name "Plaid Genedlaethol Cymru", the National Party of Wales, the party would attract members from the
political left, the political right, and the political centre, both monarchistsand republicans, whose principal aims include the promotion of the Welsh languageand for the political independence of the Welsh nation.
Discussions for the need of a "Welsh party" had been circulating since the 19th century. [Davies, "op cit", pages 415, 454] With the generation or so before 1922 there "had been a marked growth in the constitutional recognition of the Welsh nation", wrote
historianDr. John Davies. [Davies, "op cit", Page 544] A Welsh national consciousness re-emerged during the 19th century; leading to the establishment of the National Eisteddfodin 1861, the University of Wales("Prifysgol Cymru") in 1893, and the National Library of Wales("Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru") in 1911, and by 1915 the Welsh Guards("Gwarchodlu Cymreig") was formed to include Wales in the UK national component to the Foot Guards. By 1924 there were people in Wales "eager to make their nationality the focus of Welsh politics".
home rulefor Wales and Scotland amongst most political parties was strongest in 1918following the independence of other European countries after the First World War, and the Easter Risingin Ireland, wrote Dr. Davies. [Davies, "op cit", Page 523] However, in the UK General Elections of 1922, 1923, and 1924; "Wales as a political issue was increasingly eliminated from the [national agenda] ". By August 1925 unemployment in Wales rose to 28.5%, this in contrast to the economic boom in the early 1920s. For Wales, the long depression began in 1925.
It was in this climate that the two groups met. Both organizations sent a delegation of three to the meeting, with
H.R. Jonesheading the "Welsh Home Rulers" group and Saunders Lewisheading "The Welsh Movement". They were joined by Lewis Valentine, D.J. Williams, and Ambrose Bebb, among others. The principal aim of the party was to foster a Welsh speaking Wales.Davies, "op cit", page 548] To this end it was agreed that party business be conducted in Welsh, and that members sever all links with other British parties. Lewis insisted on these principles before he would agree to the Pwllheli conference.
According to the 1911 census, out of a population of just under 2.5 million, 43.5% of the total population of Wales spoke Welsh as a primary language. [http://www.bbc.co.uk/wales/history/sites/language/pages/1911.shtml BBCWales History language map 1911 extracted 12-03-07] ] This was a decrease from the 1891 census with 54.4% speaking Welsh out of a population of 1.5 million. [http://www.bbc.co.uk/wales/history/sites/language/pages/1891.shtml BBCWales History language map 1891 extracted 12-03-07] ]
With these prerequisites Lewis condemned "'Welsh nationalism' as it had hitherto existed, a nationalism characterized by inter-party conferences, an obsession with
Westminsterand a willingness to accept a subservient position for the Welsh language", wrote Dr. Davies. It may be because of these strict positions that the party failed to attract politicians of experience in its early years. However, the party's members believed its founding was an achievement in itself; "merely by existing, the party was a declaration of the distinctiveness of Wales", wrote Dr. Davies.
In these early years "Plaid Genedlaethol Cymru" published a monthly paper called "Y Ddraig Goch" (the Red Dragon, the national symbol of Wales) and held an annual summer school.
H.R. Jones, the party's full-time secretary, established a few party branches, while Valentine served as party president between 1925 and 1926. In the UK General Election of 1929, Valentine stood for Caernarfon and polled 609 votes. Later they became know as the '
the Gallant Six Hundred' when Dafydd Iwan, the current party president, immortalized them in song. [ [http://www.plaidcymru.org/content.php?nID=90;lID=1 Plaid Cymru: Who We Are] ]
By 1932 the aims of
self governmentand Welsh representation at the League of Nationshad been added to that of preserving Welsh language and culture. However this move, and the party's early attempts to develop an economic critique, did not lead to the broadening of its appeal beyond that of an intellectual and socially conservative Welsh language pressure group. [ McAllister, L, "Plaid Cymru: The Emergence of a Political Party", (2001), Seren “The tentative moves towards elaborating and broadening Plaid's policy portfolio did not allow it to shake off its early identity as a language movement or a cultural pressure group." See also Butt-Phillip, A, "The Welsh Question", (1975), University of Wales Press. "It is clear that the Welsh Nationalist Party was at the outset essentially intellectual and moral in outlook and socially conservative.]
The Lewis Doctrine 1926-1939
During the inter-war years, "Plaid Genedlaethol Cymru" was most successful as a social and educational
pressure grouprather than as a political party.Davies, "op cit", page 591] For Saunders Lewis, party president 1926- 1939, "the chief aim of the party [is] to 'take away from the Welsh their sense of inferiority... to remove from our beloved country the mark and shame of conquest.'" Lewis sought to cast "Welshness" into a new context, wrote Dr Davies.
Lewis wished to demonstrate how Welsh heritage was linked as one of the 'founders of
European civilization. Lewis, a self-described "strong monarchist," wrote "Civilization is more than an abstraction. It must have a local habitation and name. Here its name is Wales". Additionally, Lewis strove for the stability and well-being of Welsh-speaking communities, decried both capitalism and socialism and promoted what he called "perchentyaeth;" a policy of 'distributing property among the masses.
Broadcasting campaigns & 1931 Census
With the advent of broadcasting in Wales, "Plaid Genedlaethol Cymru" protested the lack of Welsh language programmes in Wales and launched a campaign to withhold license fees. Pressure was successful, and by the mid 1930s more Welsh language programming was broadcast, with the formal establishment of a Welsh regional broadcasting channel by 1937. [Davies, "op cit", page 590]
According to the 1931 census, out of a population of just over 2.5 million, the percentage of Welsh speakers in Wales dropped to 36.8%, with Ynys Mon recording the highest concentration of speakers at 87.4%, followed by
Cardiganat 87.1%, Merionedd at 86.1%, and Carmarthenat 82.3%. Caernarfon listed 79.2%. [http://www.bbc.co.uk/wales/history/sites/language/pages/1931.shtml BBCWales language map 1931 Extracted 12-03-07] ] Radnorand Monmouthranked lowest with a concentration of Welsh speakers less then 6% of the population speaking Welsh.
"Tân yn Llŷn" 1936
Welsh nationalism was ignited in 1936 when the UK government settled on establishing a bombing school at
Penyberthon the Llŷn peninsula in Gwynedd. The events surrounding the protest, known as "Tân yn Llŷn" ("Fire in Llŷn"), helped define "Plaid Genedlaethol Cymru".Davies, "op cit", page 593] The UK government settled on Llŷn as the sight for its new bombing school after similar locations Northumberlandand Dorsetwere met with protests.
However, UK Prime Minister
Stanley Baldwinrefused to hear the case against the bombing school in Wales, despite a deputation representing half a million Welsh protesters. Protest against the bombing school was summed up by Lewis when he wrote that the UK government was intent upon turning one of the 'essential homes of Welsh culture, idiom, and literature' into a place for promoting a barbaric method of warfare. Construction of the bombing school building began exactly 400 years after the first Act of Union annexing Wales into England.
8 September 1936the bombing school building was set on fire and in the investigations which followed Saunders Lewis, Lewis Valentine, and D.J. Williams claimed responsibility. The trial at Caernarfon failed to agree on a verdict and the case was sent to the Old Baileyin London. The "Three" were sentenced to nine months imprisonment in Wormwood Scrubs, and on their release they were greeted as heroes by fifteen thousand Welsh at a pavilion Caernarfon.
Many Welsh were angered by the judge's scornful treatment of the Welsh language, by the decision to move the trial to London, and by the decision of University College, Swansea, to dismiss Lewis from his post before he had been found guilty.
Scholarand historian Dafydd Glyn Joneswrote of the fire that it was "the first time in five centuries that Wales struck back at England with a measure of violence... To the Welsh people, who had long ceased to believe that they had it in them, it was a profound shock.".
However, despite the acclaim the events of "Tân yn Llŷn" generated, by 1938 Lewis' concept of "perchentyaeth" was firmly rejected as "not" a fundamental tenet of the party. In 1939 Lewis resigned as "Plaid Genedleathol Cymru" president citing that Wales was not ready to accept the leadership of a
Roman Catholic. Academic and theologian J E Daniel, the party's former vice-president between 1931-1935, was elected as president of "Plaid Cenedlaethol Cymru" in 1939, serving until 1943. [ [http://yba.llgc.org.uk/en/s2-DANI-EDW-1902.html Welsh Biography Online, DANIEL, JOHN EDWARD, extracted April 20, 2008] ]
Saunders Lewis' perceived "elitist views", and a "condescending attitude towards some aspects of nonconformist, radical and
pacifisttraditions of Wales" drew criticism from fellow nationalist such as D.J. Davies, a leftist "Plaid Cymru" party member and founder. Davies argued in favour of engaging English-speaking Welsh communities, and stressed the territorial integrity of Wales. Davies pointed towards Scandinavian countries as a model to emulate, and was active in the economic implications of Welsh self-government. [Davies, "op cit", pages 591-592]
In many ways it was Davies' ideal of Welsh nationalism which was adopted after the
Second World War, wrote Dr. Davies. But it was Lewis' "brilliance and charismatic appeal" which was firmly associated with "Plaid Genedlaethol Cymru" in the 1930s.Davies, "op cit", page 592]
"Plaid Genedlaethol Cymru's" appeal may have been further complicated by the apparent "fascist-style corporatism shown by [Lewis] and other Roman Catholic leaders of the party", according to historian Lord Morgan.Morgan, K O, Welsh Devolution: the Past and the Future in Scotland and Wales: Nations Again? (Ed. Taylor, B and Thomson, K), (1999), University of Wales Press] Author
G. A. Williamscharacterized the party of the 1930s as a "right wing force", and "Its journal refused to resist Hitleror Mussolini, ignored or tolerated anti-Semitism and, in effect, came out in support of Franco". [Williams, G A "When Was Wales?", (1985), Penguin.] [Davies, D H, "The Welsh Nationalist Party 1925-1945", (1983), St. Martin's Press.] [Morgan, K O, "Rebirth of a Nation", (1981), OUP.]
However, within the context of the 1930s, other UK politicians of other parties offered endorsements for fascist leaders. In 1933
Winston Churchillcharacterised Mussolini as 'the greatest lawgiver among men', [Canadine op cit p52 ] and later wrote in his 1937 book " Great Contemporaries", "If our country were defeated, I hope we should find a champion as admirable (as Hitler) to restore our courage and lead us back to our place among the nations". In the same work, Churchill expressed a hope that despite Hitler's apparent dictatorial tendencies, he would use his power to rebuild Germany into a worthy member of the world community. And in August 1936, Liberal party member David Lloyd Georgemet Hitler at Berchtesgadenand offered some public comments that were surprisingly favourable to the German dictator, expressing warm enthusiasm both for Hitler personally and for Germany's public works schemes (upon returning, he wrote of Hitler in the "Daily Express" as "the greatest living German", "the George Washington of Germany").
"Bards under the bed" 1939-1945
Second World Warthe UK government felt it prudent to "avoid action which might foster the growth of an extreme Welsh nationalist movement". [http://www.south-wales.police.uk/fe/master.asp?n1=8&n2=253&n3=504&n4=846 Bards under the beds, South Wales police website] ] Clement Attlee, then UK Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, voiced concern over Welsh nationalists after a deputation of Welsh Labour UK parliamentarians met with him about ignoring Welsh issues during the conflict.
Attlee characterised Welsh nationalists as "mischievous [who] tend to be against the
war effort". In an effort to root-out Welsh nationalist sympathies in army units, the UK government minister of Labour and National Servicereported that Welsh speaking men were posted to predominantly Welsh speaking units to report on anti-war sympathies.
Additional plans were developed to counter growing "Plaid Cymru" influence and included "rolling out" a member of the U.K. Royal Family to "smooth things over", according to then constitutional expert
Edward Iwi. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/4329001.stm Royal plans to beat nationalism Tuesday, 8 March 2005 Extracted 10-31-07] ] In a report he gave to then Home Secretary Herbert Morrison, Iwi proposed to make the then Princess Elizabeth Constableof Caernarfon Castle(a post then held by the Earl Lloyd George of Dwyfor), and patroness of " Urdd Gobaith Cymru", and a touring of Wales as "Urdd's" patroness.
The idea of posting the princess as constable of Caernarfon Castle was rejected by the Home Secretary as it might cause conflict between north and south Wales, and
King George VIrefused to let the teenage princess tour Wales as to not add undue pressure on her. Additionally, the plan to make the princess patroness of "Urdd Gobaith Cymru " was dropped as it was thought unsuitable to link the princess to an organisation two of whose leading members were conscientious objectors".
If ignoring the largely pacifist traditions of Welsh nationalism, some articles in the Welsh language press could be seen to give credence to Attlee's fears that Welsh nationalists would be used to spearhead an insurgency. [ [http://www.south-wales.police.uk/index.asp Bards under the beds, South Wales police website] ] However, this characterisation misrepresented Welsh nationalist sentiments, as " [Welsh nationalists] did far more to bring victory than hasten defeat". [ [http://www.south-wales.police.uk/index.asp Bards under the beds, South Wales police website] ]
Ambrose Bebb, a founding member of the party, was one of the most outspoken party members in support of the War. Bebb considered Nazi Germany's total defeat in the war as essential.Davies, "op cit", page 599] Additionally, many of the "Plaid Genedlaethol Cymru" served in Britain's armed forces. Lewis maintained a strict neutrality in his writings through his column "Cwrs y Byd" in "Y Faner". It was his attempt at an unbiased interpretation of the causes and events of the war.
Outside of the party's initial position on the war, party members were free to choose for themselves their level of support for the
war effort. "Plaid Genedlaethol Cymru" was officially neutral regarding involvement the Second World War, which party leaders considered a continuation of the First World War. Central to the neutrality policy was the idea that Wales, as a nation, had the right to decide independently on its attitude towards war,Davies, "op cit", page 598] and the rejection of other nations to force Welshmen to serve in their armed forces. With this challenging and revolutionary policy Lewis hoped a significant number of Welshmen would refuse to join the British Army.
Lewis, who served in the
South Wales Borderersduring the First World War, was not anti-military. Rather Lewis and other party members were attempting to strengthen loyalty to the Welsh nation"over the loyalty to the British State". Lewis argued "The only proof that the Welsh nation exists is that there are some who act as if it did exist".
However, most party members who claimed
conscientious objectionstatus did so in the context of their moral and religious beliefs, rather than on political conviction. Of these almost all were exempt from military service. About 24 party members made politics their sole grounds for exemption, of which twelve received prison sentences. For Lewis, those who objected proved that the assimilation of Wales was "being withstood, even under the most extreme pressures".
University of Wales by-election, 1943
Prior to 1950, universities could elect and return representatives to the UK parliament. In 1943 Lewis contested the University of Wales parliamentary seat at a by-election, his opponent was former "Plaid Genedlaethol Cymru" deputy vice-president Dr
William John Gruffydd. Gruffydd had voiced doubts about Lewis' ideas since 1933,Davies, "op cit", page 610] and by 1943 he had joined the Liberal party. The "brilliant but wayward" Gruffydd was a favourite with Welsh-speaking intellectuals and drew 52.3 per cent of the vote, to Lewis' 22 per cent, or 1,330 votes.
The election effectively split the Welsh-speaking intelligentsia, and left Lewis embittered with politics.Davies, "op cit", page 611] However, the experience proved invaluable for "Plaid Cymru", as they began to refer to themselves, as "for the first time they were taken seriously as a political force".The by-election campaign led directly to "considerable growth" for the party's membership.
The Evans Legacy 1945-1981
With Lewis retreating from direct political involvement, and with the party drawing a modest increase in membership, Dr
Gwynfor Evanswas elected party president in 1945. Evans, born in Barry in Glamorganbut spending most his life in Llangadog in Carmarthenshire, only learned to speak Welsh as an adult. Evans was educated at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, and at St John's College Oxford, where he founded a branch of "Plaid Cymru" while he was a student. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/2002565.stm Plaid pioneer Gwynfor Evans dies] ] As a devout Christian pacifist, Evans was unconditionally released from conscription during the Second World War on grounds as a conscientious objector.
Building on a higher profile the party fielded more candidates in elections; and in the 1945 UK parliamentary election the party won 25 per cent of the vote in Caernarfon and 16 per cent in the Neath by-election. By 1945 "Plaid Cymru" was in a "better position then it had been in 1939," wrote Dr Davies.
Responding to Welsh nationalism; and despite opposition by Labour politicians such as
Aneurin Bevan, Morgan Phillipsand Attlee, the U.K. government felt it prudent to establish the Council of Walesin 1948, an unelected assembly of 27 with the brief of advising the UK government on matters of Welsh interest. [Davies, "op cit", page 622] The Council of Wales held no authority on its own, to the frustration of many of the councillors. [Davies, "op cit", pages 622-623]
Following the war "Plaid Cymru" challenged the UK government's continued military conscription in peace time, and protested the
War Office's use of Welsh lands for training exercises. First in the Preseli Hillsin 1946, then in Tregaronin 1947, and then Trawsfynyddin 1951.
1950's Evans reached out to other political parties in Westminister to establish a parliament for Wales. Though failing to establish a Welsh assembly, there was movement on devolution. With "Plaid Cymru" expanding its influence further into the industrial south-east constituencies, the UK government gave in on small concessions towards devolution. [Davies, "op cit", page 662] First with the established a Minister of Welsh Affairsin 1951, then a " Digest of Welsh Statistics" began publication in 1954, and in 1955 Cardiff("Caerdydd") was recognised as the Welsh capital city.
On Evans' initiative in response to a lack of Welsh-medium education at the collage level, the University of Wales set up a committee for the creation of a Welsh-medium college in 1950. [Davies, "op cit", page 649] By 1955 the university announced its expansion of a Welsh-medium curriculum, and its continued expansion in relation to the demand for classes in Welsh. [Davies, "op cit", page 650] Additionally, "Plaid Cymru" was attracting members from other parties, such as one time "Plaid Cymru" critic
Huw T. Edwards, who resigned from the Council of Wales and left Labour in 1958 over what he described as "Whitehallism."
A Welsh constitutional monarchy
At a party conference in 1949, fifty members left "Plaid Cymru" over Evans' strict observance of a pacifist political doctrine and over the party's continued emphasis on the Welsh language, but also because the party firmly rejected adopting a republican
manifesto.Davies, "op cit", page 623]
Breaking up the following decade, some of its aspects were later absorbed into "Plaid Cymru", such as the use of English and the engagement in English-speaking Welsh communities. This was "key ... to the party's increasing acceptability" to voters, wrote Davies.
Leading "Plaid Cymru" members advocated that an independent Wales would be better served by a Welsh
constitutional monarchy, one which would engender the affection and allegiance of the Welsh people and legitimize Welsh sovereignty.Jobbins, Siôn T., "Why Not a Welsh Royal Family?" Published in Cambria Magazine, January, 2008] An hereditary constitutional monarch would, they argued, embody and personify Welsh national identity above party politics, while political parties formed governments in a parliamentary systemsimilar to those of Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, or Spain. Socialistand economist D.J. Davies wrote an artical in "Y Faner" in 1953, and later published in English in the 1958 book "Towards Welsh Freedom", in which he advocated for the elevation of a Welsh gentry family as the Royal Familyof Wales. ["Wales Must Have A Monarchy", published in Welsh in the journal "Y Faner" 1953, and in English in the book "Towards Welsh Freedom" in 1958] Among the criteria for consideration, argued Davies, was that the family had to have a history of contributing to Welsh life and reside in Wales.
primogeniture, Sir David Williams-Wynn, 11th Baronet, may be heir to the Aberffraw legacy and claim as princes of Wales, and may be known as "Dafydd III of Wales". [ D.J. Davies wrote of the Rhys/Rice family of Dinefwr, prehaps unaware of the Williams-Wynn family and claims as decendants of the Wynn family.] [Conversly, he may be known as "Dafydd IV of Wales" if the 12th century usurption of Dafydd ab Owain Gwynedd were considered part of the line of rulers.]
The flooding of Capel Celyn
Capel Celyn, Llyn Celyn"
In 1956, a
private billsponsored by Liverpool City Councilwas brought before the UK parliament to develop a water reservoir from the Tryweryn Valley, in Meirionyddin Gwynedd. The development would include the flooding of Capel Celyn("Holly Chapel"), a Welsh speaking community of historic significance. Despite universal and bi-partisanobjections by Welsh politicians (thirty five out of thirty six Welsh MPs opposed the bill, and one abstained) the bill was passed in 1957.
Evans joined Dr Tudor Jones and Capel Celyn farmer David Roberts, aged 65, at the Liverpool Town Hall to protest, and had to be forcibly ejected by police.cite web
last = Coslett
first = Paul
title = Flooding Apology
work = Where I Live - Liverpool
date = 2005-10-19
url = http://www.bbc.co.uk/liverpool/content/articles/2005/10/17/feature_welsh_reservoir_feature.shtml
accessdate = 2008-08-17
quote = A motion passed by the council on Wednesday 19th October reads, "We realise the hurt of forty years ago when the Tryweryn Valley was transformed into a reservoir to help meet the water needs of Liverpool. For any insensitivity by our predecessor council at that time, we apologise and hope that the historic and sound relationship between Liverpool and Wales can be completely restored."]
The building of the reservoir was instrumental in an increase in support for "Plaid Cymru" during the late 1950s. Almost unanimous Welsh political opposition had failed to stop approval of the scheme, a fact that seemed to underline "Plaid Cymru's" argument that the Welsh national community was powerless. [Davies, "op cit"] At the subsequent General Election the party's support increased from 3.1% to 5.2%.
Of perhaps greater significance, however, was the impetus the episode gave to Welsh devolution. The Council of Wales recommended the creation of a
Welsh Office("Swyddfa Gymreig") and Secretary of State for Walesearly in 1957, a time when the governance of Wales on a national level was so demonstrably lacking in many people's eyes.Butt-Phillip, A, "The Welsh Question", (1975), University of Wales Press ]
The flooding of Capel Celyn also sharpened debate within "Plaid Cymru" about the use of
direct action. While the party emphasised its constitutional approach to stopping the development, it also sympathised with the actions of two party members (who of their own accord) attempted to sabotage the power supply at the site of the Tryweryn dam in 1962.
In October 1965 the
Llyn Celynreservoir opened to a sizeable "Plaid Cymru" organised demonstration. During the opening ceremonies, "posters reading ‘Hands Off Wales’ were displayed and pieces of rock where thrown at Liverpool’s Lord Mayor and Chief Constable".
"Tynged yr Iaith" and the 1961 census
Tynged yr iaith"
In 1962 Saunders Lewis gave a radio speech entitled "
Tynged yr iaith" ("The Fate of the Language") in which he predicted the extinction of the Welsh language unless action was taken. Lewis' intent was to motivate "Plaid Cymru" into more direct action promoting the language, however it led to the formation of " Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg" ("the Welsh Language Society") later that year at a "Plaid Cymru" summer school held in Pontardawein Glamorgan. [Morgan, K O, "Rebirth of a Nation", (1981), OUP ] The foundation of "Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg" allowed for "Plaid Cymru" to focus on electoral politics, while the "Cymdeithas" focused on promoting the language.
Lewis gave his radio speech responding to the 1961 census, which showed a decrease in the number of Welsh speakers from 36% in 1931 to 26%, out of a population of about 2.5 million. [http://www.bbc.co.uk/wales/history/sites/language/pages/1961.shtml BBCWales History language map 1961 extracted 12-03-07] ] In the census; Merionnydd, Ynys Mon, Carmarthen, and Caernarfon averaged 75% concentration of Welsh speakers, with the most significant decrease in the counties of
Glamorgan, Flint, and Pembroke.
Responding on the calls of Welsh devolution, in
1964the Labour Government gave effect to these proposals establishing the unelected Welsh Office( _cy. Swyddfa Gymreig) and Secretary of State for Wales.
Evans' election 1966
If "Plaid Cymru" had been disappointed at the U.K general election, 1966, then the Carmarthen by-election of
14 July 1966was reason for celebration. The contest was significant in that it resulted in the election of Gwynfor Evans, the first ever "Plaid Cymru" M.P. The contest was caused by the death of Lady Megan Lloyd George, Liberal MP and daughter of Lord David, 1st Earl Lloyd George of Dwyfor.
Evans' surprise win is credited with laying the foundations for
Winnie Ewing's victory for the Scottish National Partyat the Hamilton by-election, 1967, an event of equal significance for Scottish nationalism.
This was followed by two further by-elections in Rhondda West in 1967 and Caerphilly in 1968 in which the party achieved massive swings of 30% and 40% respectively, coming within a whisker of victory as both also won a higher proportion of the vote then it had won in Carmarthen.
The results were caused partly by an anti-Labour backlash. However, in Carmarthen particularly, "Plaid Cymru" also successfully depicted Labour's policies as a threat to the viability of small Welsh communities. [ Tanner, D, "Facing the New Challenge: Labour and Politics 1970 - 2000" in "The Labour Party in Wales 1900-2000" (Ed. Tanner, D, Williams, C and Hopkin, D), (2000), University of Wales Press] Expectations in coal mining communities that the Wilson government would halt the long-term decline in their industry had been dashed by a significant downward revision of coal production estimates. [ Francis, H and Smith, D, "The Fed: A History of the South Wales Miners in the Twentieth Century", (1980), University of Wales]
Welsh Language Act 1967
With "Plaid Cymru's" electoral successes the issue of devolution was back on the national political agenda, wrote Dr Davies. [Davies, "op cit", pages 667-670] A "Plaid Cymru" under Evans and a Labour party influenced by
Gwilym Prys Davies("Gwilym Prys Davies had published a Labour pamphlet calling for a National Assembly of Wales in 1963"Davies, "op cit", page 667] ) and James Griffiths, the argument "in favour of a political system in Wales more answerable to the electorate" was plausible.
But by 1967 Labour retreated from endorsing home rule mainly because of the open hostility expressed by other Welsh Labour MPs to anything "which could be interpreted as a concession to nationalism", and because of opposition by the
Secretary of State for Scotland, who was responding to a growth of Scottish nationalism.
By 1967 the Welsh Language Act was passed, giving some legal protection for the use of Welsh in official government business. The Act was based on the
Hughes Parry report, published in 1965, which advocated equal validity for Welsh in speech and in written documents, both in the courts and in public administration in Wales. However the Act did not include all the Hughes Parry report's recommendations. Prior to the Act, only the English language could be spoken at government and court proceedings.
'79 "Yes Campaign"; Hunger Strike for S4C
Welsh devolution referendum, 1979, S4C, Hunger strike"
In the 1970 General Election "Plaid Cymru" contested every seat in Wales for the first time and its vote share surged from 4.5% in 1966 to 11.5%. Also in that year, founding member Saunders Lewis was nominated for the
Nobel Prizefor Literature. Evans, however, lost Carmarthen to Labour, lost again by three votes in February 1974, but regained the seat in October 1974, by which time the party had gained a further two MPs, representing the constituencies of Caernarfonand Merionethshire. Alarmed at the decrease in the number of Welsh speakers, Evans began a campaign for the establishment of a Welsh language television channel.
At the 1979 General Election the party’s vote share declined from 10.8% to 8.1% and Carmarthen was again lost to Labour.
"Plaid Cymru" led the "Yes Campaign" in favor of devolution, though some party members were somewhat ambivalent toward home rule (as opposed to outright independence). McAllister, L, "Plaid Cymru: The Emergence of a Political Party", (2001), Seren] The
referendumwas held on St David's Day( March 1) 1979, but the people of Walesvoted against proposals to establish a Welsh Assembly.
Only 12% of the Welsh electorate voted to set up a directly elected forum which would have been based in
Cardiff's Coal Exchange. The Assembly would have had the powers and budget of the Secretary of State for Wales. The plans were defeated by a majority of 4:1 (956,330 against, 243,048 for). The Wales Act contained a requirement that at least 40% of all voters backed the plan. After the referendum results many in the party questioned its direction.
Following the "Yes Campaign's" defeat, and believing Welsh nationalism was "in a paralysis of helplessness," the UK Conservative government Home Secretary announced in September 1979 that the government would "not" honour its pledge in the previous May's election campaign to establish a Welsh language television channel,Davies, "op cit", page 680] much to widespread anger and resentment in Wales, wrote Dr Davies.
In early 1980 over two thousand members of "Plaid Cymru" pledged to go to prison rather than pay the television licence fees, and by that spring Evans announced his intention to fast to death if a Welsh language channel were not established. In early September 1980, Evans addressed thousands at a gathering in which "passions ran high," according to Dr Davies. The government yielded by
17 September, and the Welsh Fourth Channel ( S4C) was launched on 2 November 1982.
The Wigley & Elis presidencies 1981 - 2000
Dafydd Wigleysucceeded Gwynfor Evans as president in 1981, inheriting a party whose morale was at an all-time low after the defeat of the "Yes Campaign". In 1981 the party adopted "community socialism," or a " decentralisedsocialist state," as a constitutional aim. This was in part as a consequence of Thatcherism's effect in Wales. While the party embarked on a wide-ranging review of its priorities and goals, Evans continued his successful campaign to oblige the Conservative UK government to fulfil its promise to establish S4C.
Wigley's election was seen as instrumental in deciding the future direction of "Plaid Cymru". Though Wigley described his own politics as '
right-wing', at the time he represented a moderate, pragmatic social democracypolicy, in sharp contrast with rival candidate Dafydd Elis Thomas' far-leftsocialism. Wigley's triumph was also somewhat a pyrrhic victory- he won the presidency, but Thomas would have a greater influence over the party's ideology throughout the 1980s.
In 1984 Wigley resigned from the presidency because of his children's health. In the 1984 party leadership elections Dafydd Elis-Thomas was elected President, defeating
Dafydd Iwan, a move that saw the party shift to the political left. Wigley returned to the job in 1991 after the resignation of Elis-Thomas. Ieuan Wyn Jonescaptured Ynys Mon from the Conservatives in 1987.
The 1991 census revealed that the decline in the number of Welsh speakers was arrested, and remained at the 1981 levels of 18.7% in a Welsh population of over 2.8 million. Gwynedd retained the highest concentration of Welsh speakers with 61%, followed by Powys, Clwyd, and Dyfed averaging in the mid-twenty percentile. [http://www.bbc.co.uk/wales/history/sites/language/pages/1991.shtml BBC Wales History language map 1991 extracted 12-04-07] ]
The Yes for Wales campaign
After the 1997 general election, the new Labour Government argued that an Assembly would be more democratically accountable than the
Welsh Office, echoing calls for self-governmentsince 1918.
For eleven years prior to 1997 Wales had been represented in the UK Cabinet by a Secretary of State who did not represent a Welsh constituency at
Westminster. [ [http://www.comisiwnrichard.gov.uk/content/template.asp?ID=/content/evidence/oral/wlga/index-w.asp Evidence to Richards Commission] of Cllr Russell Goodway. 10 July 2003. Retrieved 9 July 2006.] "Plaid Cymru" joined a bi-partisan " Yes for Wales" campaign, alongside the Labour and Liberal Democrat parties.
During the campaign for a Welsh Assembly,
Diana, Princess of Waleswas killed in a car accident in France. The campaign had been temporarily suspended and it was wondered what effect the death of the Princess of Wales would have on the election.cite news
last = Horton
first = Nick
title = That's When I Ran to the Phone...
date = 2007-09-18
url = http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/6993569.stm
accessdate = 2008-08-17] Commentators pondered what effect the death of the princess and focus on the UK Royal Family would have on the devolution debate and turn out.
A second referendum was held on
18 September 1997in which voters approved the creation of the National Assembly for Wales by a majority of just 6,712 votes. [cite news
last = Rozenberg
first = Joshua
title = Devolution
work = Politics 97
year = 1997
url = http://www.bbc.co.uk/politics97/analysis/rozenberg2.shtml
accessdate = 2006-07-09]
The following year the Government of Wales Act was passed by UK parliament, establishing the
National Assembly for Wales( _cy. Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru).
First Welsh Assembly, 1999 - 2003
In the 1999 election "Plaid Cymru" gained seats in traditionally-Labour areas such as in the Rhondda, Islwyn and Llanelli and achieving by far their highest share of the vote in any Wales-wide election.
Ieuan Wyn Joneswas the campaign director during "Plaid Cymru's" first elections to the Welsh Assembly in 1999. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/6288722.stm A 'remarkable journey' for Jones, BBC Wales, 11 July 2007] ] While "Plaid Cymru" presented themselves as the natural beneficiary of devolution, others attributed their performance in large part to the travails of the Labour Party, whose nomination for Assembly First Secretary, Ron Davies, was forced to stand down in an alleged sex scandal. The ensuing leadership battle did much to damage Labour, and thus aid "Plaid Cymru" whose leader, by contrast, was the more popular and higher profile Dafydd Wigley. The UK Labour national leadership was seen to interfere in the contest and deny the popular Rhodri Morganvictory. Less than two months later, with a further slump in Labour support, "Plaid Cymru" came within 2.5 percentage pointsof gaining the largest vote share in Wales. Under the new system of elections, the party also gained two MEPs.
Lord Elis-Thomas was elected
Presiding Officer of the National Assembly for Wales.
Jones' presidency; 2000 - 2003
In a speech at the 2000 National Eisteddfod at
Llanelli, Cynog Dafis(pronounced "Davis"), "Plaid Cymru" AM for Mid and West Wales, called for a new Welsh language movement with greater powers to lobby for the Welsh language at the Assembly, UK, and EU levels. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/871220.stm Call for new language movement Tuesday, 8 August, 2000 extracted 27 Jan 2008] ] Dafis felt the needs of the language were ignored during the first year of the Assembly, and that in order to ensure a dynamic growth of the Welsh language a properly resourced strategy was needed In his speech Dafis encouraged other Welsh language advocacy groups to work closer together creating a more favorable climate in which in which using Welsh was "attractive, exciting, a source of pride and a sign of strength". Additionally, Dafis pointed towards efforts in areas such as Cataloniaand the Basque country as successful examples to emulate.
Lord Elis-Thomas dissagreed with Dafis assessment, however. At the
UrddEisteddfod Lord Elis-Thomas said that there was no need for another Welsh language act, citing that there was "enough goodwill to safeguard the language's future". [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/776895.stm Elis-Thomas in language row Sunday, 4 June, 2000 extracted 27 Jan 2008] ] His controversal comments prompted "Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg" to joined a chorus calling for his resignation as the Assembly's presiding officer.
Lord Elis-Thomas was also under fire from Welsh Labour's
Alun Michaelfor his endorsement of Ieuan Wyn Jones as Plaid Cymru's president, however Elis-Thomas said he volenteered his preference as a matter of public interest and as a party member, not in his position as Assembly presiding officer.
Dafydd Wigley resigned late 2000, citing health problems but amid rumours of a plot against him. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/wales/770799.stm Plaid Cymru leader steps down, BBC Wales, 31 May, 2000] ] [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/wales/832595.stm 'Wigley downfall' plot denied, BBC Wales, 14 July, 2000] ] [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/wales/858312.stm Ousting rumours 'unfair' says Wigley, BBC Wales, 31 July, 2000] ] Ieuan Wyn Jones was elected President of "Plaid Cymru" with 77% of the vote over
Helen Mary Jones[ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/wales/3110168.stm The Comeback Kid extracted, BBC Wales, 15 September, 2003] ] a few months later. Jones reshuffled the party leadership with Jocelyn Daviesas Business Manager; Elin Jonesas Chief Whip and Agriculture & Rural Development Officer; Phil Williamsas Economic Development; and Helen Mary Jonesas Environment, Transport and Planning, plus Equal Opportunities. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/wales/871450.stm Plaid leader reshuffles cabinet, BBC Wales, 9 August, 2000] ]
The party's move toward the political centre during this period may have been made easier by the formation of Welsh language pressure group "
Cymuned" ("Community") and the " Cymru Annibynnol" ("The Independent Wales party"), which provided another home for "radicals". [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/wales/2271794.stm Jones' uphill struggle for votes by Simon Morris, BBC Wales, 20 September, 2002] ]
"Plaid Cymru" and the
Scottish National Party, having cooperated together since the 1980s, formalised their relationship by establishing the " Celtic Alliance" voting block in 2001. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/wales/1410009.stm Plaid and SNP form Celtic alliance, Thursday, 28 June, 2001] ] The Celtic Alliance created the third largest oppositional voting block in the UK parliament.
Llandudno Party Conference
Llandudno"Plaid Cymru" party conference of 2002, Jones called for greater Assembly authority " [on parity] with Scotland's parliament", and "opposed any military conflict in Iraq, saying it would destabilise the Middle East". [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/wales/2269666.stm Plaid leader aiming to govern, BBC Wales, 20 September, 2002] ] Jones also criticized health and public services policies and would end the "endless revamping of structures and administration".
Language and Housing Controversy
Commuter town, gentrification"
Controversy erupted in mid-winter 2001 when
Seimon Glyn, Gwynedd County Council's housing committee chairman and "Plaid Cymru" member, voiced frustration over "English immigrants" moving into traditionally Welsh speaking communities. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/wales/1182994.stm Plaid bids to defuse 'racism' row, BBC Wales, 21 February, 2001] ] Glyn was commenting on a report underscoring the dilemma of rocketing house prices outstripping what locals could pay, with the report warning that '...traditional Welsh communities could die out..." as a consequence. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/wales/1521881.stm 'Racist' remarks lost Plaid votes, BBC Wales, 3 September, 2001] ]
Much of the rural Welsh real-estate market was driven by a cycle of growing dormitory towns, which was exacerbated by second home buyers and growing
retirement communities. Many buyers were drawn to Wales from England because of relatively inexpensive house prices in Wales as compared to house prices in England. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/1480685.stm Property prices in England and Wales Wednesday, 8 August, 2001, extracted 24 Jan 2008] ] [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/1688974.stm House prices outpacing incomes Monday, 3 December, 2001, extracted 24 Jan 2008] ] The rise in home prices outpaced the average earnings income in Wales, and meant that many local people could not afford to purchase their first home or compete against commuter or second-home buyers.
In 2001 nearly a third of all properties in Gwynedd were bought by buyers from out of the county, and with some communities reporting as many as a third of local homes used as holiday homes. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/wales/1123782.stm Apology over 'insults' to English, BBC Wales, 3 September, 2001] ] [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/wales/524419.stm UK: Wales Plaid calls for second home controls, BBC Wales, November 17, 1999] ] Holiday home owners spend less then six months of the year in the local community. Additional concern was expressed by "Cymuned", which included disillusioned "Plaid Cymru" members, when it was pointed out that real-estate in
North Waleswas specifically marketed to affluent buyers in England rather than locals. These growing dormitory towns along the North Wales Expressway serve more as commuter communities for Chesterand other cross-border cities, effectively driving-out Welsh-speaking communities, activists pointed out. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/2513737.stm Protest over Welsh home sales Tuesday, 26 November, 2002 Extracted 28 Jan 2008] ] [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/1819872.stm Language activist's assembly warning Thursday, 14 February, 2002 Extracted 28 Jan 2008] ]
In housing markets where commuters are wealthier and small town housing markets weaker than city housing markets or suburbs, the development of a bedroom community may raise local housing prices and attract upscale service businesses in a process called
gentrification. Long-time residents may be displaced by new commuter residents due to rising house prices. This can also be influenced by zoning restrictions in urbanized areas that prevent the construction of suitably cheap housing closer to places of employment.
The issue of locals being priced out of the local housing market is common to many rural communities throughout Britain, but in Wales the added dimension of language further complicated the issue, as many new residents did not learn the Welsh language. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/567938.stm Double tax for holiday home owners Thursday, 16 December, 1999, extracted 24 Jan 2008] ] [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/wales/1527298.stm Controls on second homes reviewed Wednesday, 5 September, 2001 extracted 24 Jan 2008] ] [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/wales/1918383.stm Gwynedd considers holiday home curb Tuesday, 9 April, 2002, extracted 24 Jan 2008] ]
Concern for the Welsh language under these pressures prompted Glyn to say "Once you have more than 50% of anybody living in a community that speaks a foreign language, then you lose your indigenous tongue almost immediately". [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/wales/1397281.stm Plaid plan 'protects' rural areas, BBC Wales, 19 June, 2001] ]
"Plaid Cymru" had long advocated controls on second homes, and a 2001 taskforce headed by Dafydd Wigley recommended land should be allocated for affordable local housing, and called for grants for locals to buy houses, and recommended council tax on holiday homes should double, following similar measures in the
Welsh Labour-Liberal Democrat Assembly coalition rebuffed these proposals, with Assembly housing spokesman Peter Black stating that "we [can not] frame our planning laws around the Welsh language", adding "Nor can we take punitive measures against second home owners in the way that they propose as these will have an impact on the value of the homes of local people".
In contrast, by fall 2001 the
Exmoor National Parkauthority in England began limiting home ownership there which was also driving up local housing prices by as much as 31%. Elfyn Llwyd, "Plaid Cymru's" parliamentary group leader, said that the issues in Exmoor National Park were the same as in Wales, however in Wales there is the added dimension of language and culture.
Reflecting on the controversy Glyn's comments caused earlier in the year, Llwyd observed "What is interesting is of course it is fine for Exmoor to defend their community but in Wales when you try to say these things it is called racist..."
Llwyd called on other parties to join in a debate to bring the Exmoor experience to Wales when he said "... I really do ask them and I plead with them to come around the table and talk about the Exmoor suggestion and see if we can now bring it into Wales".
By spring 2002 both the Snowdonia National Park (Welsh: "Parc Cenedlaethol Eryri") and
Pembrokeshire Coast National Park(Welsh: "Parc Cenedlaethol Arfordir Penfro") authorities began limiting second home ownership within the parks, following the example set by Exmoor. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/1857381.stm Park to ban new holiday homes Wednesday, 6 March, 2002 extracted 24 Jan 2008] ] According to planners in Snowdonia and Pembroke applicants for new homes must demonstrate a proven local need or the applicant had strong links with the area.
In the 2001 General Election, "Plaid Cymru" lost Jones' old seat of Ynys Môn to Labour's
Albert Owen. An internal report commissioned by "Plaid Cymru" following the 2001 General Election attributed the loss of significant votes directly to Glyn's controversial comments. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/wales/1521881.stm 'Racist' remarks lost Plaid votes, BBC Wales, 3 September, 2001] ] Despite this, "Plaid Cymru" recorded their highest ever vote share in a General Election of 14.3%, gaining Carmarthen East and Dinefwrand electing Adam Price.
2001 Census and tickbox controversy
Demography of Wales, Welsh people"
According to the 2001 census the number of Welsh speakers in Wales increased for the first time in 100 years, with 20.5% in a population of over 2.9 million claiming fluency in Welsh, or one in five. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/wales/2755217.stm Census shows Welsh language rise Friday, 14 February, 2003 extracted 12-04-07] ] Additionally, 28% of the population of Wales claimed to understand Welsh. The census revealed that the increase was most significant in urban areas; such as Cardiff ("Caerdydd") with an increase from 6.6% in 1991 to 10.9% in 2001, and
Rhondda Cynon Taffwith an increase from 9% in 1991 to 12.3% in 2001. However, the percentage of Welsh speakers declined in Gwyneddfrom 72.1% in 1991 to 68.7%, and in Ceredigionfrom 59.1% in 1991 to 51.8%. Ceredigion in particular experienced the greatest fluctuation with the a 19.5% influx of new residents since 1991.
The census also revealed that one-third of the population of Wales described themselves as of
British nationality, with respondants having to write in whether or not they were Welsh. Controversy surrounding the method of determining nationality began as early as 2000, when it was revealed that respondents in Scotland and Northern Ireland would be able to check a box describing themselves as Scottish or Irish, an option not available for Welsh respondants. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_depth/uk_politics/2000/conferences/plaid_cymru/936077.stm Census equality backed by Plaid 23 September, 2000 extracted 12-04-07] ] [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/wales/2288147.stm Census results 'defy tickbox row' 30 September, 2002 extracted 12-04-07] ]
Prior to the Census, "Plaid Cymru" backed a petition calling for the inclusion of a Welsh tickbox and for the National Assembly to have primary law-making powers and its own
National Statistics Office.
With an absence of a Welsh tickbox, the only other tickbox available was 'white-British,' 'Irish', or 'other'. Critics expected a higher porportion of resondants describing themselves as of Welsh nationality had a Welsh tickbox been available. Additional criticism targeted the timing of the census, which was taken in the middle of the Foot and Mouth crisis of 2001, a fact organizers said did not impact the results. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/wales/2755217.stm Census shows Welsh language rise Friday, 14 February, 2003 extracted 12-04-07] ] However, the Foot and Mouth crisis did delay UK General Elections, the first time since the
Second World Warany event postponed an election.
The Mittal Affair
Controversy ensued in 2002 as Adam Price exposed the link between UK prime minister
Tony Blairand steel magnate Lakshmi Mittalin the Mittal Affair, also known as ' Garbagegate' or "Cash for Influence". [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/1813620.stm Plaid reveals Labour steel cash link Monday, 11 February, 2002, extracted 11-01-07] ] [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/1820324.stm Lakshmi Mittal, steel mill millionaire Thursday, 14 February, 2002, extracted 11-01-07] ] [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/1818955.stm Q&A: 'Garbagegate' Thursday, 14 February, 2002 extracted 11-01-07] ] Mittal's LNMsteel company, registered in the Dutch Antillesand maintaining less than 1% of its 100,000 plus workforce in the UK, sought Blair's aid in its bid to purchase Romania's state steel industry. The letter from Blair to the Romanian government, a copy of which Price was able to obtain, hinted that the privatisation of the firm and sale to Mittal might help smooth the way for Romania's entry into the European Union. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/1813620.stm Plaid reveals Labour steel cash link Monday, 11 February, 2002, extracted 11-01-07] ]
In exchange for Blair's support Mittal, already a Labour contributor, donated £125,000 more to Labour party funds a week after the 2001 UK General Elections, while as many as six thousand Welsh steelworkers were
laid offthat same year, Price and others pointed out. Mittal's company, then the fourth largest in the world, was a "major global competitor of Britain's own struggling steel industry, Corus, formerly known as British Steel". Corus and Valkia Limitedwere two of the primary employers in South Wales, particularly in Ebbw Vale, Llanwern, and Port Talbot. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/1827460.stm Steel firm condemns 'Mittal aid' Monday, 18 February, 2002, 14:47 GMT extracted 11-01-07] ]
Iwan's presidency; 2003 - Current
econd Welsh Assembly, 2003 - 2007
In the May Assembly election of 2003 "Plaid Cymru" lost five seats, with critics pointing towards a less organised electoral organisation which often found difficulty articulating the party's message in the media. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/4746753.stm Shadow over Plaid's 80th birthday Friday, 5 August 2005 Extracted Oct 29 2007] ] This was in sharp contrast to the electoral organisation and performance of 1999.
Within a week of the Assembly elections, there were accusations of a plot headed by AM Helen Mary Jones and four other "Plaid Cymru" Assembly Members manoeuvering for Jones' removal. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/wales/3110168.stm Jones The Comeback Kid extracted 07-19-07] ] [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/wales/3014327.stm Plaid, the president and the 'plot'] ] But Helen Mary Jones denied involvement. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/wales/3049654.stm Plaid president's comeback attempt extracted 07-19-07] ] However, Ieuan Wyn Jones resigned as both party president and leader of the
By summer 2003 the party underwent a constitutional reorganisation dividing its
Cardiff Bayand Westminsterresponsibilities. The organisational change prompted new party elections, with Ieuan Wyn Jones standing again for Assembly group leadership, having received both grassroots support from "all over Wales" and senior party members. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/wales/3049654.stm Plaid president's comeback attempt extracted 07-19-07] ]
With the move towards digital programming, "Plaid Cymru" urged the "UK government to make Wales one of the first areas to completely switch over to digital television from the current analogue service". [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/3914063.stm I'm a celebrity, get me Welsh TV Thursday, 22 July, 2004 extracted 11-01-07] ]
Impeachment of Blair Campaign, 2004 - 2007
Impeach Blair campaign"
In August 2004, Adam Price began a campaign to impeach then UK Prime Minister
Tony Blairover the alleged misleading of the UK Parliament and for allegedly making a secret agreement with then US President George W. Bushto overthrow Saddam Hussein, amongst other charges. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/3600438.stm Blair impeachment campaign starts Friday, 27 August, 2004] ] "Plaid's" Parliament group leader Elfyn Llwydand then Scottish National Party(SNP) group leader Alex Salmondco-drafted the motion.
17 March 2005Price was ejected from the Commons chamber after accusing the Prime Minister of having "misled" Parliament and then refusing to withdraw his comment, in violation of the rules of the House. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/4358313.stm MP thrown out over Blair war jibe MP thrown out over Blair war jibe Thursday, 17 March, 2005] ]
In November 2005, the campaign announced a new motion (this time with the support of the Liberal Democrats) asking for a Commons committee to examine the conduct of ministers before and after the war. The campaign tabled an [http://edmi.parliament.uk/EDMi/EDMDetails.aspx?EDMID=29437&SESSION=875 Early Day Motion] :
:"Conduct of Government Policy in relation to the war against Iraq"
:"That this House believes that there should be a select committee of 7 Members, being members of Her Majesty's Privy Council, to review the way in which the responsibilities of Government were discharged in relation to Iraq and all matters relevant thereto, in the period leading up to military action in that country in March 2003 and in its aftermath".
The motion collected 151 signatures, including some Labour back-benchers.
By October 2006, Price opened a three hour debate on an inquiry into the
Iraq War, the first such debate in over two years. The SNP and Plaid Cymru motion proposing a committee of seven senior MPs to review "the way in which the responsibilities of government were discharged in relation to Iraq", was defeated by 298 votes to 273, a Government majority of 25, but was supported by a significant number of opposition MPs, and twelve "rebel" Labour MPs, including Glenda Jackson.
Despite the lack of debate on the original impeachment motion, Price pledged to continue his campaign. However, with the resignation of Blair on
27 June, 2007, the entire issue of impeachment may now be moot.
80th Anniversary and Evans celebrated 2005
In 2005 "Plaid Cymru" celebrated both the life of
iconicfigure Gwynfor Evans, who had passed away in April, and of the 80th anniversary of the party's founding. At Evans' funeral in Aberystwyth, attended by thousands, "Plaid Cymru" president Dafydd Iwan said "For "Plaid Cymru" members and supporters, young and old, Gwynfor Evans has been "Plaid Cymru's" spiritual leader and will continue to be so. It is impossible to underestimate Gwynfor's unique contribution to building "Plaid Cymru" into the party it is today". [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/4469517.stm Tributes to Plaid Cymru statesman Thursday, 21 April, 2005 Extracted 29 Oct 07] ]
Evans was "Wales' most remarkable politician," according to "Plaid Cymru" parliamentary group leader Elfyn Llwyd, adding that Evans will be remembered for his "fearless dedication to the cause of peace and international understanding". [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/mid/4561429.stm Plaid supports 'Gwynfor' building Thursday, 19 May, 2005 extracted 29 Oct 2007] ] Evans was voted third Top Welsh millennium hero in 2000, and fourth Welsh hero in 2004, according to
BBC Walesonline polls. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/wales/583864.stm Glyndwr is Welsh man of millennium extracted 12-04-07] ] [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/wales/3523363.stm Bevan is ultimate Welsh hero extracted 12-04-07] ]
Cymru Xwas founded in 2005 to merge "Plaid Cymru's" two existing movements in to one new youth movement. The student federation 'the ffed' and the youth movement were merged to create a brand new youth organisation available to anyone under the age of 30.CymruX is run by its National Committee, chaired by Mabon ap Gwynfor. The committee is elected every March.
While working as President of the
Aberystwyth Guild of Students, Bethan Jenkinssaw "Plaid Cymru" defeated in Ceredigion. After leaving Aberystwyth University, Jenkins worked in the office of Leanne Wood AM and used her contacts there to set up the organisation Cymru X. Cymru X launched the first ever interactive text referendum on a Parliament for Wales, as well as campaigns against nuclear arms. Glyn Wisefrom Big Brother fame also took part in a campaign alongside Cymru X to encourage young people to vote prior to the National Assembly election in 2007.
There are also some link-ups with the student and youth wings of the SNP.
Crossroads, leadership, and rebranding
2005 also saw the party in a kind of "crossroads," as historic tensions within the party resurfaced between "Plaid Cymru" as a social pressure group and "Plaid Cymru" as an electoral political party. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/4746753.stm Shadow over Plaid's 80th birthday Friday, 5 August 2005 Extracted Oct 29 2007] ] Professor
Laura McAllister, a "Plaid Cymru" history expert and former party candidate, said that unless the party shed its "pressure group past" it could not expect more than to form a coalition government with other parties.
Helen Mary Jones, however, disagreed with McAllister's assessment and in 2005 said that "Plaid Cymru" speaks to and for all the people of Wales." Former
Rhondda Cynon Taff"Plaid Cymru" councillor Syd Morganagreed with Helen Mary Jones and said that the issue was not with the party's message, but because of a lack of a "modern corporate image" that the "party as a whole does not resonate with the people of Wales."
In February 2006 "Plaid Cymru" undertook changes to its party structure, including designating the Welsh Assembly group leader as the overall party leader. This move placed Ieuan Wyn Jones again at the head of the party, with Dafydd Iwan remaining party president and popular Dafydd Wigley remaining Honorary President.
Responding to calls from within the party to reinvigorate its image, at a party conference the unveiling of a radical change of image prompted some controversy from within the party. Changes included officially using "Plaid" as the party's name, although "Plaid Cymru - The Party of Wales" would remain the official title. The adoption of "Plaid", which had long been used in less formal speech as referring to "the party", was a recognition of its use for all party business. Additionally, the party's colours were changed from the traditional green and red to yellow, while the party logo was changed from the 'triban' (three peaks) used since 1933 to a yellow
Welsh poppy(Meconopsis cambrica).
The Government of Wales Act 2006
Government of Wales Act 2006was heavily criticised by "Plaid" for not delivering a fully-fledged parliament. Additionally, "Plaid" criticised the Welsh LabourParty's allegedly partisan attempt to alter the electoral system. By preventing regional Assembly Members from standing in constituency seats Welsh Labour was accused of "changing the rules" to protect constituency representatives. Labour had 29 members in the Assembly at the time, all of whom held constituency seats.
Third Welsh Assembly, 2007-2011
In the Welsh Assembly election of
May 3, 2007, "Plaid" increased its number of seats from 12 to 15, regaining Llanelli, gaining one additional list seat and winning the newly created constituency of Aberconwy The 2007 election also saw "Plaid's" Mohammad Asgharbecome the first ethnic minority candidate elected to the Welsh Assembly. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/6622925.stm First ethnic minority AM elected] BBC News, 4 May 2007. Retrieved 6 May 2007.] The Party's share of the vote increased to 22.4%. After a tight race, Helen Mary Joneswon back the important Llanelli constituency for "Plaid", with a majority of 3,884 votes.
"Plaid" AM Dr Dai Lloyd hailed the 2007 Assembly election campaign as the "most professional" campaign that "Plaid" had run, and made special note that it was funded from exclusively Welsh sources. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/wales/6970164.stm Parties triple election spending] BBC News, Thursday, 30 August 2007,retrieved 30 August 2007] In the 2007 Assembly election "Plaid" spent just under £261,286 on the campaign, about three times that of the 2003 Assembly elections. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/7131082.stm Plaid outspent Labour at election 6 December 2007 extracted 12-08-07] ]
19 October 2007, "Plaid" AM Asghar escaped death as a terrorist explosion in Karachi, Pakistan, killed 130 others. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/7052236.stm AM speaks of Bhutto bomb horror BBC Wales, 19 October, 2007] ] He had been within 35 metres of the blast. Asghar had accompanied Benazir Bhutto, former Prime Minister of Pakistan and intended target, on her return there from exile.
Following the Assembly elections, a UK parliamentary standards and privileges committee found "Plaid" MPs Elfyn Llwyd, Adam Price and
Hywel Williamsguilty of improperly advertising during the elections. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/7101679.stm MPs' adverts broke election rules Monday, 19 November 2007 extracted 22 January 2008] Though the committee admitted the three did not break any clear rules of the UK House of Commons, the committee believed the timing of the adverts was planned to coincide with the Assembly elections.
Parliamentary funds are available for MPs to communicate with constituents regularly. However the committee found that the three used this communication allowance improperly as part of "Plaid's" campaigning during the elections as the adverts were placed in publications with a circulation outside of their respective constituencies.
"Plaid" MP group leader Elfyn Llwyd said that they had "...acted in good faith throughout, and fully in line with the advice that was offered to us by the DFA (Department of Finance and Administration) at the time of the publication of the reports", but that they would comply with the findings. The three had to repay the money, about five thousand pounds each, and report the costs as part of "Plaid's" election spending.
The "One Wales" Agreement
"Plaid" entered into negotiations with Welsh Labour to form a stable government only after "Plaid"'s initial attempts to form a three-party coalition with the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties failed. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/6754849.stm Labour calls coalition conference, BBC Wales, Friday, 15 June 2007] ] The "
One Wales" agreement hammered out promised aid to "first-time house-buyers, pensioners and students and a review of NHS reconfiguration", [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/6246428.stm Details of Labour-Plaid agreement, BBC Wales, 27 July 2007] ] and with a "commitment by Welsh Labour to campaign favourably for full parliamentary powers, similar to the Scottish Parliament, in a referendum held before 2011". The historic [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/6275036.stm Labour agrees historic coalition, BBC Wales, 6 July 2007] ] "One Wales" agreement was approved by both political parties by 7 July. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/6245040.stm Historic Labour-Plaid deal agreed, BBC Wales, 27 June 2007] ] [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/6278848.stm Labour-Plaid coalition is sealed, BBC Wales, 7 July 2007] ] Only a coalition between "Plaid" and Welsh Labour would provide the necessary two-thirds majority in the Assembly to trigger the referendum. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/wales/7136723.stm Waltzing to political pas de deux Friday, 28 December 2007] ]
The "One Wales" agreement did receive criticism from fellow "Plaid" members. "Plaid's" honorary president Wigley summarized disagreement when he warned that the pact was reached too quickly and not enough planning had gone into it. Wigley believed that the agreement's failings might jeopardise the Assembly receiving full parliamentary powers by a 2011 referendum, and that other provisions of the agreement would not be fully funded. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/wales/6934842.stm Wigley's coalition deal criticism, BBC Wales, Tuesday, 7 August 2007] ] Indeed, with the budget outlined after the coalition was formed "Plaid" was obliged to defend spending cuts it may have otherwise criticized.
Queen Elizabeth II confirmed Ieuan Wyn Jones as Depuy First Minister of Wales and minister for Economy and Transport on
July 11, 2007. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/6290480.stm "Jones confirmed as deputy leader"] , BBC Wales, 11 July 2007] ] "Plaid's" deputy president Rhodri Glyn Thomas, who argued in favour of the Welsh language channel S4C becoming bilingual after digital switchover despite the circumstances of S4C's founding, was appointed Heritage Minister. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/7067729.stm Digital S4C 'could be bilingual'] ] Ceredigion AM Elin Joneswas appointed to the Rural Affairs brief in the new ten member Cabinet. As if in an effort to underscore "Plaid's" identity within the coalition, Plaid ministers sit with the Plaid assembly group rather than with Labour cabinet members.
Of "Plaid's" entering into government for the first time Jones said "The party's role so far has been one of the opposition party, which put pressure on the other parties to move things forward for the benefit of Wales". Speaking about moderation and consensus at the
British-Irish Councilat Stormonton 16 July 2007, Jones said that Wales has seen "a coming together of parties with different traditions, on the basis of a shared programme for government, and a shared commitment to improve the lives of all our people in all parts of Wales". [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/6900349.stm Jones and Brown meet at Stormont, BBC Wales, 16 July 2007] ]
Jones joined the Queen representing Wales in
Belgiumat the 90th anniversary ceremony of the Third Battle of Ypresat Passchendaele ( World War I). During the battle celebrated Welsh poet Hedd Wynhad died, along with thousands of other Welshmen.
Broadcast news controversy
In August 2007 MP Adam Price highlighted what he perceived as a lack of a Welsh focus on
BBCnews broadcasts. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/6955263.stm Plaid MP's BBC licence fee threat Monday, 20 August 2007] ] Price threatened to withhold future television licencefees in response to a lack of thorough news coverage of Wales, echoing a BBC Audience Council for Wales July report citing public frustration over how the Welsh Assembly is characterised in national media. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/6898870.stm BBC audiences 'want modern Wales' Monday, 16 July 2007] ] AM Bethan Jenkins agreed with Price and called for responsibility for broadcasting to be devolved to the Welsh Assembly, voicing similar calls from Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond. Criticism of the BBC's news coverage for Wales and Scotland since devolution prompted debate of possibly providing evening news broadcasts with specific focus for both countries.
Party Conference 2007 and Peerage Call
At the Llandudno party conference, 2007, "Plaid" members discussed the new European Union reform treaty, a change in placing women at the top of regional lists in the Welsh assembly elections, and the party's position on nuclear power. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/6992521.stm Plaid is urged to nominate peers BBC Wales Thursday, 13 September 2007] ]
Grass roots party members blame the policy of placing women at the top of regional lists as the cause for Dafydd Wigley's failure to be elected to the Assembly. "Plaid" began the policy of placing women at the top of regional lists to attract more women into the political process, however opponents pointed out that the policy discriminated against men. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/7210035.stm First Plaid peers to be nominated Saturday, 26 January 2008, Extracted 26 Jan 2008] ] In the so called "Zip system" whoever wins the greatest amount of party votes will be placed at the top of the regional list, followed by the opposite gender candidate who received the next highest vote share.
Additionally, "Plaid" parliamentary leader
Elfyn Llwydencouraged the party to nominate peers into the UK House of Lords, citing that "Plaid" peers would "help ensure planned legislation for Wales was not blocked at Westminster", adding that many in the Lords may want to prevent full law-making powers for Wales. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/7186636.stm Wigley accepts Plaid peerage call Monday, 14 January 2008 Extracted 16 Jan 2008] ] With consensus building from within the party to nominate peers, honorary party president Dafydd Wigleywas nominated for peerage. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/wales/7210035.stm Wigley is nominated as Plaid peer Saturday, 26 January 2008 extracted 27 Jan 08] ] Other "Plaid" nominees for life peerage include Eurfyl ap Gwilym, and Janet Davies. Currently, Lord Elis-Thomas is the lone "Plaid" peer.
In a recent poll, "83% of the people of Wales now support self-government - with a clear majority of the Welsh electorate supporting a full law-making and a tax-varying Parliament for Wales", according to "Plaid" MP for Caernarfon,
Hywel Williams. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/7008225.stm Plaid 'aspirations' under attack BBC Wales Saturday, 22 September 2007] ]
Plaid Cymru party leaders
Plaid Cymru Leader
Welsh AssemblyGroup Leaders since 1999
UK Members of Parliament Group Leaders
History of the Welsh language
List of Plaid Cymru MPs
Politics of Wales
National Assembly for Wales election, 2007"
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