Now that the election is behind us, I have been thinking about its impact on the cause of Welsh Independence. In order to achieve this goal, it is essential for Nationalist parties to get more seats than Unionist parties, and that just didn’t happen.
The problem is that we only have one Nationalist party, and while Plaid have done extremely well in Y Fro Gymraeg, they have not made much impact outside of their heartland. Plaid have a good base in the Valleys but even with a very unpopular Labour Party, they just can not seem to deliver. Just imagine what we would be talking about today if Plaid had secured another 5 or 6 seats…………
Politics is largely about momentum – the Liberal Democrats have often been very effective in starting a bandwagon in by-elections which swings floating voters behind them until they become unstoppable. Today, the Welsh Conservatives have some momentum, but no one is seriously suggesting that they can win anything in the Valleys, and they are in any case Unionists. Ron Davies’s group of independents almost got moving, but suffered from a lack of organization, but did again demonstrate that there is a large potential anti-Labour vote in the South, which just needs to be mobilized.
There are maybe two ways forward:
One is to establish a new Nationalist party – left of centre, and primarily English (or Wenglish) speaking, targeting the Valley seats, and supporting Plaid in a nationalist coalition. But the problem with this (apart from the costs and timescale) is that it would just split the existing Plaid base, and let the Unionists attack Plaid as not being representative of all Wales.
The alternative is to keep Plaid as the main Nationalist party, but to adopt a bit of niche marketing (or devolution). Create a new grouping – say Valleys Voice – with a visible local leader (why not Ron Davies??!!). The group would still be part of Plaid, and use the new logo, but could adopt local policies more suited to local problems. It would give Plaid a new momentum locally which was largely absent in these elections, and could make a big difference in the 9 Valley seats. Maybe a Clwyd Voice could help deliver 3 more seats and a West Glamorgan Voice 3 more. You get the idea.
Four years to the next election seems like a long time, but there are local councils to be won and Westminster seats to be fought before then, and Plaid have to strengthen their base before taking the next leap forward.
But I do not want to see Plaid elected for the sake of it – I want them elected to lead our drive for independence. I believe that Plaid can win 25 seats or more in the next Senedd, and win a vote on Independence by 2020 – providing that they start working towards it now!!