THE incumbent leader of Plaid Cymru Leanne Wood AM was in Llanelli today, Tuesday (Aug 21) for the second time in a week as part of her leadership campaign reaching out to rank and file members of Plaid Cymru.
Ms Wood met with a number of local Plaid Cymru activists at the Thomas Arms Hotel including Mari Arthur and Deris Williams. The informal gathering is just one of many Ms Wood will be undertaking as she embarks on her travels through Wales in an attempt to bolster support for her re election as the leader of Plaid Cymru.
Speaking to Llanelli Online Ms Wood said that she was very confident, optimistic and positive about her chances of beating the other two challengers Adam Price and Rhun Ap Iorwerth.
The lady from the Rhondda is not short of support and she says she is enjoying the chance to go up and down the country. She said: “I have a week of further trips ahead. The reception has been very positive. The grass roots members are very supportive of the work I have done up until now.”
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When asked if she believed the challenge to her leadership was based on a lack of faith she said: “Plaid Cymru is an ultra democratic party. Our internal positions come up for elections every two years and thus far I have not been challenged. There are obviously political differences. There are people who don’t agree with the way in which I am taking the party and the way I run things and so the leadership election is the perfect opportunity to have a debate about some of those issues.
“The vast majority are happy with the policies we have got. The changes I want to make are in relation to the party organisation and structure to make sure that we are in a position to be as effective a campaign force as is possible. There is an awful lot we can do to improve our electoral chances. I don’t sense from members that there is an appetite to change our policies.”
When asked what she made of the comment by Adam Price that there should be a joint leadership she said: “It is an interesting debate. I am a collective leader. The best way of utilising people’s talents is something that I am ready to discuss but the timing and the way that suggestion was made was not the best way to go about it.”
There has been criticism of Ms Wood’s leadership from within the party with some declaring that she lacks the vision and ability to deliver Plaid’s message. Her dissenters have a battle on their hands as Ms Wood continues to push what she believes is the way forward for the party and Wales in her 32 page ‘How To’ entitled ‘The change we need – a democratic and empowered Wales’.
In the document Ms Wood begins by saying: “People in Wales face many problems and challenges which cannot be solved by our National Assembly because of its limited powers. Neither can they be solved by Westminster where the concerns of Wales are an afterthought at best. Only we can solve the problems Wales faces. It is not good enough for a Welsh First Minister to blame the Tories in Westminster for almost all of Wales’ ills, while at the same time, refusing to push for the powers to tackle those problems in Wales. The under-resourcing of our media ensures a continued lack of understanding as to how devolution works
“Becoming an independent country is one way for Welsh people to become empowered. However, the concept of real independence as put forward by Raymond Williams goes much further than mere national constitutional arrangements. It covers the attitude, outlook and confidence people have when they are politically and economically empowered to determine the direction of their own lives. Plaid Cymru believes that decisions are best made by those who are directly affected by them. We therefore believe in further devolution within Wales.”
The document aligns itself with a movement sweeping across other nations by the name of LEAP. Although the manifestos differ in different countries, the principles appear to remain the same. In Canada the manifesto claims to be an inspiring, big-picture road map for an energy transition based in principles of justice, human rights, and worker solidarity. It appears to be an additive based policy rather than subtractive, i.e. the community is at the heart of decision making on issues, which affect their future wellbeing.
Ms Wood is not alone in her calls for independence and control of one’s own destiny and for a country seeking decentralisation where people share the wealth. Brexit has also forced the debate for many countries and regions like Ireland, Scotland and Wales who now find themselves at the mercy of civil servants bartering deals, which tend to focus on those sectors and regions which are the least exposed parts of the UK economy. This means that whatever is finally negotiated is unlikely to alleviate the effects of Brexit on the vast majority of the UK.
Even the Green Party might be happy with the contents of the document, which offers a version of LEAP for Wales, which can be viewed here and which, focuses heavily on taking control over one’s own natural resources as a way of generating wealth through publicly owned companies.
Will this document demanding change and the informal chats over coffee be enough to convince the Plaid Cymru membership that Ms Wood is right the person for the job of leading a party, which historically has been reinventing itself to the point whereby there is a definite disconnect looming between those who are hanging on to a party comfortable with playing second fiddle to Welsh Labour and Westminster hand me downs and those who want to grasp the nettle of this brave new movement, which is gaining momentum across the world where each country becomes master of its own culture, economy, resources governance and destiny? Ms Wood apparently believes so.