Tuesday 9 September 2008

There's news and there's...

According to today's Western Mail, it would seem that "senior Plaid officials" are "under fire" for "changing the rules" to avoid releasing the voting figures for our presidential election. Apparently, the "senior party officials" decided not to release the figures "because of embarrassment over earlier leaks".

It's a version of events which this "senior Plaid official" has some difficulty in reconciling with reality.

I could challenge many of the statements made, but I'll content myself with saying that not releasing the figures is a very long-standing policy. (I remember challenging it myself back in the 1970's, and on other occasions since then.) And the justification for it always had a great deal more to do with sparing the blushes of unsuccessful candidates for internal elections than with any embarrassment over leaks.

Just about the only part of the story which I do recognise as true is the suggestion that we will be looking at the policy again. But hey, a story is a story.


Anonymous said...


I draw your attention to this press release, issued by Plaid Cymru in August 2000, which clearly states the votes for each candidate in that year's Presidential election.

I am sure your statement regarding non-disclosure was made in good faith. Nevertheless, it does not appear to be supported by the facts.

Perhaps you could clarify?

John Dixon said...

Fair comment, but I think you're asking the wrong question in using that press release to suggest that what I said is not supported by the facts. The right question is "Why did Plaid make an exception to the normal policy in 2000?", Nice to know that you keep a comprehensive back catalogue of our press releases though. I'd better remember that!

I actually don't know the answer to what happened in 2000 - I wasn't chair at the time, or even a member of the NEC. We did decide to make a specific exception in 2003, and I remember that discussion. What I am quite clear about is that both were exceptions to the normal policy, rather than a change in policy.

My personal view has long been that we should publish the figures - not least because they always leak out pretty quickly anyway. As in this case! But as Chair, my job is to implement and explain - as best I can - the decisions that we take as a party, and I'm a democrat at heart.

Does that count as a clarification?

Anonymous said...

Nice to know that you keep a comprehensive back catalogue of our press releases though.

You can thank Mr Google for that.

But yes, I think that counts as a clarification. The only thing I'd say is that if the policy was waived for the last two such elections then it has only been observed once since 1991 (for this post, anyway). Is it really fair to imply that it is a long observed rule?


John Dixon said...

Mr Google has a great deal to answer for.

"Is it really fair to imply that it is a long observed rule?"

Given that the party has held many hundreds of internal elections and selection processes over at least 30 years without announcing the voting figures, I think that it's sntirely reasonable for me to answer a clear 'yes' to that question.

There are only two exceptions that I can think of; a rule followed in hundreds of cases for 30 years with only two exceptions looks like a 'long-observed rule' to me.

But, as you corrrectly point out, both the exceptions relate to the same job, and that job has not often been contested, so if you select the data to only include that one job, then you would indeed come to a different conclusion. That looks a little bit like being highly selective about the data in order to support a particular argument to me, although I suppose you might in turn say the same about me. My defence would be that I'm using all the data that I'm aware of, rather than the three most recent elections for just the one job.

However, as you may have gathered, I was trying to explain what has happened rather than defend it!