Hello there. Hope you’re feeling well today.If you placed a bet about ten months ago on which Welsh political party would be having a leadership contest then Plaid Cymru would have been the bookies favourite. All of this starting it should be noted when Welsh Plaid Cymru AM said that he would like to stand for the leadership of the party should Leanne Wood resign ( As I noted at the time a nuance that was tucked well into the BBC Wales online article).
But no. Labour, UKIP (though less of a party more a comedy combo) and now the Welsh Conservatives will be holding elections for party leader now that Andrew RT Davies has announced his intention to quit to spend more time with his food.
Leanne Wood though is still standing.
And yet through these months there have been chip, chip, chipping away at her leadership by I suspect people who should know better. The latest being former Plaid Cymru MP Elfyn Llwyd. It’s time then to step back a little and examine Leanne Wood’s leadership.
As I think I’ve mentioned in this blog before. There is I suspect a parallel universe where Dafydd Wigley did not resign because of ill health and became the Welsh Alex Salmond figure leading the party in the National Assembly and planning for a Welsh referendum. However we live in this universe. Mr Wigley did resign. And was replaced by the disastrous Iuean Wynne Jones. A man who went into coalition with Labour which did not help the Plaid at all (the tenplate for Nick Clegg) and crucially muddied the waters about Plaid’s attitude to independence. As I’ve also said in this blog before if Plaid Cymru is not the party of independence for Wales then it is nothing.
Since she took over as leader the party has stabilised, it is not in freefall. It’s critics may want a speedier turnaround but let’s face it slow progress is better than no progress at all. Also a lot of it’s critics did not try to turn the party around between the leadership of Wigley and Wood fast enough and yet it is they who are criticising the steady progress she has made.
And the real, key question is would any other leader have made any difference to Plaid’s popularity at that time. I suspect not. Leanne Wood’s success has been to push the party back into a place where it is no longer ignored by Welsh Labour. It is feared by Welsh Labour. Because only Plaid can produce a realistic alternative for voters in Wales that most of the people could relate to.
Name recognition by the Welsh public of Assembly Members is of course disturbingly low but I would suspect she would come second to Carwyn Jones.
I know I’m repeating myself here yet again. But if the next general election is held before the elections for the National Assembly for Wales then Plaid may have problems because many Welsh people might vote for Labour to get the Tories out. If this happens it’s not Ms Wood’s or indeed the party’s fault. That would be just circumstance. The real test for her (as she has acknowledged) is the next Welsh Assembly and local elections. Here is where Plaid must use it’s resources to show Wales that it is the party of alternative to the arrogant incompetence to Welsh Labour.
But in the meantime, with Welsh Labour having surrendered itself to Westminster. The Welsh Conservatives being run as a glorified glove puppets to London and UKIP producing stand up comedy in the Assembly it is not the time for the attacks on a leader who has being doing a good job. Especially by people who did not help the party’s position when it was at it’s lowest ebb before she took over.
Until the next time.