Now that there is the possibility of a leadership challenge within the party, the obvious question to ask is what kind of leader should Plaid Cymru have?The most obvious quality that comes to mind of course is the ability to win elections for the party. And when I say win, I mean have a serious chance at making Plaid a truly national party in Wales and one that may actually be able to lead a government in Cardiff Bay.
Labour have been in power for two decades straight and, let’s just say that it’s been disappointing – and it’s simply not right that even in such circumstances, the opposition has seemingly no realistic chance at taking power.
In order to have a reasonable chance at leading a Welsh Assembly Government, Plaid Cymru needs to have a leader who is willing to work with other opposition parties and not one who refuses to work with any one but Labour – even if you did want to go into coalition with Labour, you must never enter a negotiation telling the other side that they’re your only option!
This is just one example of where there needs to be a fundamental change in the programme of the leadership. A move away from the hard left and towards the center of Welsh Politics is necessary for several key reasons:
- The whole aim of any political party is to win as many votes as possible in order to try to win power – by making the party ultra-left wing, it has only turned itself into a niche within a niche catering mainly to people who are both nationalist and ultra-socialist. Instead, the party should appeal to Welsh patriots from across the political spectrum.
- And of course, as discussed, Plaid Cymru needs to drop it’s hard-left attitude of refusing to work with right of centre parties if it ever plans to lead a government in any circumstances that resemble the present.
Plaid Cymru does of course have core values which it must never compromise – protecting and saving the Welsh culture and language and achieving greater prosperity, happiness and self rule for Wales. But that aside, the party should be a lot more flexible.
As I have argued, Plaid Cymru should be less hostile towards the Monarchy – that was a motion forwarded at a party youth conference by two members from Caernarfon back in 2015, and one that I immediately supported as I saw it being forwarded in front of my eyes.
I’m sure that there are many patriotic Welshmen who happen to support the Monarchy so why should Plaid have to put them off, when it could instead be like the SNP and win over both Republicans and Monarchists?
What Plaid Cymru needs therefore, is a leader who is strongly committed to the party’s core values but is a lot more pragmatic and willing to give ear on other issues.
I do have great respect for Leanne Wood as she is clearly a politician of great principle. But that, if anything, is a key problem – she has too many hard line principles and not enough flexibility where flexibility is exactly what the party needs.
Therefore I believe that the right combination of principle and pragmatism is what any new leader of Plaid Cymru should have.