My partying days are over

Whenever I make critical comments about Plaid Cymru I can almost guarantee two responses in the comments. One will suggest that I join Plaid Cymru and try to persuade the party, from within, towards a more tolerant view of non-socialist politics. The second will suggest that I join the Tories, presumably in order to persuade that party from within, towards a nationalist view of conservatism.

Thirty years ago both of these suggestions would have been practical.

When I joined the Liberal Party in 1975 (before the days of the Liberal Democrats) I was able to make suggestions at local level, which, if passed, could go up to Welsh level and then on to UK conference. Most of my silly teenage ideas were killed off at local level - but never without a proper discussion and a democratic vote of local members. A couple of my ideas (after much amending) actually made it to the party's election manifesto.

When I joined Plaid, the same was true. An individual member's idea could go through the party process and become national policy. I can recall a particularly pleasing experience when I made an argument in a constituency meeting and then heard the local MP make my case, almost word for word, a few days later on the radio programme Yesterday in Parliament.

Big kudos! I was part of the party!

Sadly those days, when one could influence party ideas as a party member, have long gone. Now half a dozen party strategists decide party policies. The basis of manifesto commitment is the view of focus groups, psephologists, experts, influential donors, media response analysts and such like. Motions backed by swathes of party members are refused conference time by political experts and analysts who advise conference organisers. The day of the individual member's influence is long dead.

Plaid Cymru will not allow a proper internal party debate on the topic of socialism v nationalism neither will the Welsh Conservatives allow a debate on unionism v nationalism, even if a majority of either party's members want to have that debate, unless or until external advisers tell them that such a debate will be advantageous.

I can't see the point of joining any political party in our days.

I am much happier blogging my political viewpoint independently of any party straitjacket. The party hacks might not like it, but it gives me the feeling of freedom, of honestly held opinion; similar to that I use to have within the party structure in the late seventies / early eighties.

And who knows? A member of a focus group or a media analysts might be reading!


  1. We do still do it in the Lib Dems believe it or not, to the point where sometimes we get distracted debating silly fringe issues at party conferences. I know exactly what you are saying though, and it goes beyond people within parties to the general public. Its this sense of helplessness and feeds in to the "they're all the same" mentality. Politicians not only need to learn to listen, but to learn to be seen to be listening.

  2. "Politicians not only need to learn to listen, but to learn to be seen to be listening"

    How come the LibDems are in direct opposition to the man on the street on so many issues then? Immigration, Crime & Punishment, Europe, The nanny State etc. Seems to me you are all just the same, elitists infected with moral conceit.

  3. That is absolute rubbish. Who are these so called strategists that have the ability to set party policy, bypassing the party's constitution?

    You are sitting on the outside listening in, hearing nothing nore than moans from people on the outside with you. National Council takes place 3 times a year and along with the main conference in Autumn, sets party policy. Your early experiences have not changed as the constitution has not. Many policies proposed by central bodies such as the NEC get changed or blocked by members at these gatherings and rightly so.

    Plaid would not exist as the party it is if it followed the Labour model of centralisation and I for one would not be a member, if it did.

    The reason why you have so many Plaid members criticising you, is that your views do not represent mainstream Plaid.

  4. Oh dear Ian, you are a touchy thing!

    This post is not a criticism of your precious party, it is an explanation of why I don't want to be a member of any party at the moment, not just yours. I don't care what the mainstream view of any party is be it Plaid, Tory, Labour or Lib Dem, I enjoy the freedom of expresion that rejecting all party constraints gives me.

  5. ian when you were a young member of plaid about how old were you when you were putting motions and changes to policy forward in your younger days with plaid

    and why can't you now put a motioon forward with plaid and see it put forward to national conference

  6. Alwyn,

    That's fine. All I did was correct your incorrect comment on how Plaid operates.


    I am not sure what point you are trying to make? I have been a party member for 13 years and have put forward motions to conference of national council (through my branch or party trade union section) almost every year. Sometimes they get passed and sometimes they don't. It's down to the members. I'll be doing the same this year and hope that as many branches as possible do the same-it makes for a better conference in the Autumn.

  7. i was just interested to know how many motions got to national council and the conference coming up in march. i wasn't trying to prove a point. but the conservatives will destro this country if they get power in the u.k or wales it could be absoulutely devestating for wales. i'm 16 and i just wondering how early you started getting your motions through to national council. the quicker indepenedence comes the better. with wales winning the grand slam and the welsh success in the olympics,heineken cup,magners league, edf energy cup, league 1, fa cup, welsh football side, wrexham staying up, boxing and rugby league. it could be a fantasic year for wales and more people in my view would vote plaid because of national identity

  8. plaidcymruifanc,

    You can put a motion to National Council a couple of weeks before and sometimes almost on the day if it's an emergency. The deadline for the Autumn conference is the end of May, which gives more opportunity as it is over 3 days. The Spring Conference is not a constitutional gathering and does not carry motions.