Friday, 12 November 2010

...and again

I was disappointed by today's story in the Western Mail, although I can't say I was really surprised.  If I were to worry too much about seeing part of what I say or write taken out of context and blown up, I'd never say or write anything.

I've never been one of those people who has a desperate need to 'set the record straight', so I will not go through the inaccuracies individually.  I will say though that the "Plaid source" quoted is someone who clearly doesn't know me very well, has a poor understanding of what happened in the 2007 and 2010 elections in Carmarthen West, and is clueless about what was or was not said in conversations between Ieuan and myself.  Perfectly placed to comment then.

The story does, however, illustrate two points.

The first is that people who are driven by strong personal ambitions always assume that everyone else is subject to the same drivers.  It ain't necessarily so, as the song goes.  (Not that there's necessarily anything wrong with some people having strong personal ambitions - as long as they're fully aligned with the aims of the organisation.)

And the second, and more important, echoes a point that I've been making for some time.  Plaid members briefing against other Plaid members is something which has, unfortunately, become all too frequent since the advent of the Assembly, and the huge increase in the number of professional politicians in the party.  But it's a diversion from the party's task.  Plaid has fallen into the modus operandi of the other parties; concentrating on personality rather than substance.  The party has lost its focus on outcomes, and is taking far too short-term a view.


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
John Dixon said...


Thank you for forwarding that link. I have deleted it, not because I have any problem with Heledd expressing such opinions, but because I feel that if she has changed her own mind about wanting to say that, I respect that view.

I think, though, it underlines the point that I was making about not assuming that everyone is driven by personal ambition.

Shambo said...

A point well made but somehow I feel sure I will be reading in WoS of how "angry Plaid man slams professional politicians". 'Twas ever thus.

Anonymous said...

"Plaid members briefing against other Plaid members is something which has, unfortunately, become all too frequent since the advent of the Assembly"...sadly very true john!

If people have something to say they should say it openly and publicly...not put the poison in against someone as an 'unnamed source'..that really is such a cowardly way of behaving i think....but all too prevalent of modern politics in the uk it seems!

On a wider should be noted that a person's age is no barrier to political office it the United states...thus respected figures like richard lugar and dick gephardt are still in office despite being well into their was the late and in my opinion great ted kennedy..arguably the most effective legislator US politics has ever seen!

Leigh Richards

Peter Freeman said...

Being misunderstood goes with the territory and no one would understand that better than you John.
However it's the last paragraph that I find the saddest because of it's seeming inevitability. As Plaid has become more "mainstream" it is no longer the sole province of Nationalists who have chosen the ballot box, it is now also the home of politicians who have chosen Plaid as a career path. That is not entirely negative, there was a time when a Plaid candidate knew he had no chance of winning but was standing just to wave the flag. When Ted Rowlands fought the Merthyr by-election in '67 he was terrified at the thought he might win. Gwynfor took us all by surprise, and when I was canvassing for Carwyn James in Llanelli in '70 we had the feeling that he was coming up behind us undoing everything we did. Still, he nearly won in spite of himself. Plaid would certainly not be where it is today if we had remained just a group of friends sitting in the pub singing rebel songs and "Talking Treason"
We need the career politicians even though I fear their self interest will result in a watering down of the substance you refer to. As I mentioned in a previous comment, they can cause us to have a partisan majority while still leaving us in a philosophical minority.
One final point; wouldn't it be a wonderful world if someone would interview you, get a clear idea of your thoughts and then write an article. Instead of taking one phrase, extrapolating it, adding sound bites from politicians and presenting it as a newsworthy headline. I have never considered the Western Mail to be a friend of Plaid Cymru or of objective journalism.

John Dixon said...


I think '67 was Vic Davies in Rhondda; Merthyr was Emrys Roberts in '72.

Understand the point though - my parliamentary elections in the Vale were all flag-flying exercises.

Peter Freeman said...

I'll be goshdarned, (Americanwr chi'n weld) that's embarrassing. Yes it was Vic' I was referring to. Ted rowlands was the Labour MP who won Merthyr after the death of S.O. Davies.
Interesting about the volatility of Welsh politics. In 72 Emrys lost his deposit, in 76 he was leader of Merthyr council.

Heledd Fychan said...

About to repost - had problems with my blog earlier. Not briefing against you in anyway John and have read your blog entries today. Actually sticking up for old men in politics who have a wealth of experience!

Spirit of BME said...

Whoops – I think you (and Adam) have found a raw nerve in Plaid’s Politburo.

Look, when you have a leadership that is inadequate and battling with lack of confidence, day in day out, the last thing you want is bright people with gravitas around you as AMs.
On that basis, Plaid has got the balance right, the young (not so) bright things will be compliant and grateful for their position. The older element owing to their track record are not (to be kind to them)” going to change the weather” as they say in business.
The job does not call for real ability as the Civil Service provides that (Gaud help us) and Plaid will continue to be timid and not prepared to test to destruction the system of government that Wales is saddled with.

Rydd said...

I'm completely uninterested in any debate about "career politicians" or who is too young or too old, but seeing the name Emrys Roberts takes me back.

Emrys, the stalwart of the Cymru-Cuba solidarity movement, friendly (though strident) rival to the more Gwynfor-orientated pole but still well thought of by the likes of Wigley, Eurfyl etc with whom he worked on the Plaid inquiry in the early 1980s. Last I heard of him he was still rallying the support for the Cubans.

Who is to say that the younger generation of Plaid activists are not just as passionate as the old guard?

In the next few years I feel politics will become radicalised and shocked. The challenges will be immense for politicians of all parties, in a climate where public spending is no longer growing. But the opportunities will be greater than ever to demonstrate that passion that the older guard did when they were a few decades younger.

Indeed it was Cynog Dafis one of the "old men" that constantly points out that we need to create new nationalists. I do recall Adam Price issuing a blog post under that same title only a year or two ago.

Anonymous said...

"Plaid members briefing against other Plaid members is something which has, unfortunately, become all too frequent since the advent of the Assembly"....

So you weren't briefing against Ieuan Wyn Jones yesterday?

Anonymous said...

Spot on, Spirit of BME. 'In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man will be king'.

Anonymous said...

Isn't there something rather ironic in you criticising politicians briefing against politicians when this started with comments you (a politician) made about another politician.

John Dixon said...

So many anons...

Anon (Not published). I've not published your comment because it really relates to Heledd's post not mine; better for you to comment there, I think.

Anon 23:53 and Anon 8:44,

You're both making the same point. I realise that there is a danger of you interpreting this as a 'Queen of Hearts' response (Words mean what I want them to mean), but what I am referring to as briefing is when people hide behind anonymous epithets such as "A Plaid source" to criticise other members. I've never done that - if I have something that I want to say, I say it openly and honestly in my own name,

Secondly, it's interesting that people have interpreted what I said as being 'against' Ieuan. I thought that I'd made it clear that, in principle, I agreed with him. I've spent a lot of time in Plaid trying to move the party away from more middle-aged men in suits, and his basic point is a sound one.

Perhaps some people might prefer that I hadn't been so open and candid about statements he made, but factual reporting isn't the same as attacking someone.