Éire Ghaelach – Éire Shaor
In an article for WalesOnline former Plaid Cymru minister Rhodri Glyn Thomas asks the question that hangs over the Welsh nationalist party as it faces a new leadership election and demands that it embrace a new form of progressive nationalism:
“PLAID Cymru has gone backwards since 1999 and desperately needs to find a new way of talking to the voters, a former minister has claimed.
Rhodri Glyn Thomas, who was Heritage Minister in the One Wales coalition with Labour from 2007 to 2008, said he hoped the party’s leadership election, which will be launched formally tomorrow, would start a revival in Plaid’s fortunes.
“The question is, what does Plaid Cymru stand for now? We need clear leadership, which we haven’t had for the last 12 years. My view is that the emphasis should be on nation building rather than independence. I’m waiting to hear what the leadership contenders have to say before deciding which of them to vote for.””
For the last two decades the party has effectively abandoned its core belief, the establishment of an independent Wales, and instead embraced cultural nationalism with conservative regionalist politics. This has seen the remarkable transformation of Wales into a bilingual society and the creation of a strong regional government for the Welsh people. However the main beneficiaries of this have been the establishment British parties like Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal-Democrats. Plaid Cymru itself has been eclipsed in many constituencies.
Is it now time for Plaid to follow the path trod by the SNP and a revival of a progressive movement for sovereignty? If Plaid Cymru’s successes in cultural politics has shown it anything it is surely that advanced nationalism, in language or politics, is the long-term key to success.