Paying the Price for Toxic Politics

THE toxic culture within our political parties has reared its ugly head again this week with the fall of Plaid Leader Adam Price.

Price announced his resignation today (Thursday), following a damning report on the long-running problem of sexual harassment and bullying within the party.

The “Prosiect Pawb” report was chaired by ex-AM Nerys Evans, with 80 recommendations made by the panel to properly tackle such problems moving forward.

Some will mourn the fact that the party leader has had to be sacrificed for his whole party’s failings in this respect.

And that Adam Prices’s famed “Mab Darogan” status in Wales will never now be realised.

However, it now provides an opportunity for the whole national movement to consider what the next steps should be concerning independence.

Alongside the Plaid members themselves who will now have to choose a new leader.

Considering the absolute state of the Tories at Westminster and the complete loss of trust in the UK political system, it seems incredible that the two leaders of the main nationalist parties in Scotland and Wales have now had to resign within a couple of months of each other.

The SNP have been engulfed in a wave of sexual and financial scandals of late and are still the subject of on-going investigations by Police Scotland.

Whilst there are no suggestions of Police involvement as yet in Plaid’s predicament, it now seems clear that a toxic culture of sexual harassment has existed within the party going back a number of years.

With both young men and young women affected by this long-running toxic culture within.


Only this week, seasoned Welsh journalist Martin Shipton wrote an article in “Nation Cymru” saying the problem had been in place for many years having witnessed a direct sexual harassment example with his own eyes back in 2008.

Gwlad Leader Gwyn Wigley Evans said the whole sorry saga was a blow for the whole national movement in truth.

Gwlad leader Gwyn Wigley Evans. Image credit Golwg 360

“As a party, we don’t want to gloat about any of this, because it reflects badly on everyone to be honest” said Mr. Evans.

“Ordinary people will be looking at all this and asking themselves: what on earth is wrong with these people to behave like this? And asking themselves as well: do we really want to give such people more power in Wales?”

He added that it was obvious that Adam Price had to resign after such a damning report, but that making him the sole fall-guy for the whole problem was just an easy way out.

“Surely, the whole National Executive should also have to resign after presiding over such a seedy and unhealthy culture within the party for so many years?” he said.

“All of them have been sleeping at the wheel for years in allowing all this to happen under their watch”.

“And who are the actual culprits? Bethan Sayed has complained about sexual harassment of women. It’s fairly obvious that Price himself wasn’t doing that, so who was?”

One can only speculate why this sexual harassment problem has taken such a deep root within Plaid, especially considering its nonconformist roots.

But perhaps a long standing presumption to “speak for Wales” has fostered a sense of entitlement within the party. leading in turn to a sense of personal entitlement amongst elected members to be able to behave with such impunity.

And perhaps indeed that the frustrations of not being able to exercise political power in Wales has led some of them to exercise personal power over others in their own party.

What next?

So, what next for the national movement?

Many Plaid members and nationalists in general have been dismayed to see the party becoming so close to Welsh Labour over the past few years under Adam Price’s leadership, being almost indistinguishable in many ways.

Yes, the co-operation agreement has served to move some policy areas forward.

But the considerable downside is a complete inability to criticize Labour and show up their multiple inadequacies in governing Wales effectively.

And not being able to function as an effective opposition to all intents and purposes.

Surely, Plaid now have to choose a new leader who can decouple the party from Welsh Labour and make the case for independence in a more direct and honest way from this point on.

One would imagine that the clear choice to be able to do this would be the AS for Ynys Mon, Rhun ap Iorwerth.

But he’s only gone and shot himself in the foot by declaring for Westminster, thus being unable to rescue his party from its predicament.

Gwyn Wigley Evans said the idea of leaving the Senedd to go to Westminster was just another example of Plaid’s internal and external dysfunction at this point.

“What exactly is the point of him turning his back on Wales and going to Westminster at this point, after 23 years of devolved government?” he said

“Yes – we don’t like Virginia Crosbie that’s true – but what wider message does that give people about the importance of Wales and the importance of Westminster now?”

“Gwlad’s policy is not to send anyone to Westminster, where we have no influence at all amongst 650 members there – but to make sure we have all our best people here in Wales, serving the people of Wales alone”.

Time will tell who will emerge as a new leader of Plaid and how exactly this will influence the trajectory of the party going forward.

But one thing is clear, many voters and ordinary people in general will find it hard to forgive the party for allowing behaviour of this nature to go unchecked for so many years.

Because people do remember political betrayals, as has been proved with other parties so many times over the years.

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