Tweet I enjoyed the debate piece by Daran Hill and Adam Higgitt over at WalesHome, but found myself turned off a little by a lot of what happened in the comment thread afterwards. Both Daran and Adam offered us their perspectives 'from the outside looking in' as it were, and such perspectives are always useful.
Not having the hang-ups and baggage that so many of us within the party carry is both a plus and a minus; it enables them to think more outside the box than we can, but they don't necessarily have the same close understanding of the internal dynamic and some of the limitations which it can pose.
Returning to the comment thread, though, there is a danger that we get too caught up in debating what label we want to apply to ourselves, and what labels we want to apply to our opponents. It's a bit of an Endian argument to me; words like left, right, and centre don't have a lot of resonance outside the world of politicians; people are more likely to want to know what's inside the shell than which end we're going to crack it. And we'd be better off trying to explain that than to argue about whether we're more left or right or centre.
It's also the case that the UK mainstream political spectrum has become increasingly narrow over the years; the differences between Labour, Conservative, and Lib Dem are often more superficial than real in large areas of policy. A comment made - by Duncan, I think - was that Plaid could adopt elements of policy from any of those parties if it needed to. Up to a point, I agree with him; it's a reflection of how narrow the spectrum has become.
Despite Plaid's formal adoption of the word 'socialist' in the 1980s – and I plead guilty to having been involved with that change - the reality is that Plaid has always been a loose coalition of disparate people with different ideas about what sort of Wales we want, agreeing (well, most of the time, anyway) on one main objective, namely independence. (Although we've had a fair few arguments about what to call it!)
A party of government, however, needs to have a coherent set of policies which are implementable. That need for coherence poses rather more of a challenge to a party of government than it does to a party of opposition. And a party of government inevitably has to deal with the short term as well as the long term – again, a constraint which a party of perennial opposition does not have to face up to.
The danger, for Plaid, is that we end up becoming a fourth party competing in the same narrow spectrum of politics, fighting on largely short term questions rather than long-term ones. In that situation, what is our USP?
One consequence of trying to play the game of politics in a crowded field within a very narrow spectrum is that parties have become afraid to put forward a real alternative viewpoint. For instance, in an attempt to appeal to aspirational floating voters, there has been an increasing trend for parties to put forward policies which are seen to advance the interests of, and appeal to the instincts of, that particular group.
And one result of that is that mainstream parties in the UK have largely abandoned any real attempt to provide a shared vision of a more co-operative and egalitarian society in which people work collectively to build a better world for all. With no-one putting that case, it can surely be no surprise that advancing personal rather than collective interests has become the norm; and has then developed into a self-reinforcing vicious circle.
If any party is well-placed to rediscover and present that sort of alternative vision of society, it is surely a party whose raison d'etre is to build a different sort of Wales and which has consistently argued for a participatory approach to management of companies and institutions, and for the empowerment of communities.
Plaid MEP approaches Information Commissioner over data protection concerns - *Press Release. Datganiad i’r Wasg.* Plaid Cymru MEP Jill Evans is to address concerns regarding the sale of personal data following an approach from seve...
49 minutes ago