How do you solve a problem like McEvoy?

Neil McEvoy AM

Ifan Morgan Jones

It’s difficult to have a sensible discussion about Neil McEvoy without becoming embroiled in an ill-tempered argument on Facebook or Twitter, or indeed the comments section on Nation.Cymru.

His supporters see any opposition to him within the Assembly as a plot orchestrated by shadowy figures who fear he will expose them.

His detractors will attempt to convince you that he’s a bully unfit for public office.

In truth, the reality seems to be far less complex. Neil McEvoy is just an independently minded man.

This is a virtue in many ways – he certainly isn’t part of the Cardiff Bay establishment and he isn’t afraid to ask difficult questions.

But it’s also makes working with him very difficult for the Plaid Cymru Assembly Group.

Their best-laid plans can go out of the window if Neil McEvoy just states his own opinion rather than sticking to party policy.

On some issues – such as the right to buy and domestic violence charities – he has directly contradicted the party leadership in a way that has created embarrassing headlines for them.

I don’t think the disagreement between him and the rest of the Plaid Cymru group is ultimately any more complex than that.

There are further accusations against him but because we don’t know what they are it’s impossible to comment, so I’m not going to. Innocent until proven guilty.

And since the internal investigation within Plaid Cymru is still ongoing we have to conclude that it was his independent streak rather than anything else that was behind this decision.

Crossroads

Neil McEvoy’s expulsion from Plaid Cymru isn’t the end of the story. He’s still a Plaid member and has the support of Cardiff West Plaid Cymru, and will no doubt be nominated by them at the next election.

For Plaid Cymru, the important thing now is to avoid a damaging split. That Leanne becomes the leader of one faction that sees the benefit of a more consensual style of politics and Neil McEvoy the de facto leader of a more anti-establishment alternative.

This isn’t unusual within political parties. Labour have Blairites and Brownities and Corbynistas, the Tories had their wets and dries and now their Brexit rebels and Eurosceptics.

But what the national movement really wants to avoid is that one branch or another breaks away into another party entirely. That would just split the vote and benefit no one.

However, Neil McEvoy’s expulsion could turn out to be a good thing in the long run, both for him and Plaid Cymru.

Unshackled from party discipline, Neil McEvoy can get on with what he does best – giving the Welsh Government both barrels.

His anti-establishment credentials will be burnished and he can attract votes from those who want to shake up the order at Cardiff Bay.

Meanwhile, Plaid Cymru will have lanced a long-festering boil and can get on with the job of being a disciplined team while keeping their distance from McEvoy’s more controversial views.

I believe that Neil McEvoy has a lot to offer Plaid Cymru. He’s a charismatic figure and seems to have a knack for inspiring a part of the electorate – the working class and diverse communities – that Plaid Cymru has struggled to attract.

He’s a good communicator, he’s ambitious, and he’s had proven electoral success in Cardiff.

But he’s just one talented AM out of many that Plaid Cymru does have. He has his strengths and others have their own.

Any national movement needs to be a broad church and Plaid Cymru is stronger for having them all as part of the party.


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Leia
Guest

The ‘problem’ is traditional party politics where there seems to be an unspoken assumption that everyone must share the same views on everything and no acknowledgement that almost everyone just choose the closet fit and is BOUND to have wildly different views on some it it.

If we could act like real humans having a conversation and parties could openly say things like “consensus is X so that’s our policy but some members do think Y” and have that considered normal instead of an excuse for opponents and newspapers to shred them, it would be helpful!

Jonathan Edwards Sir Benfro
Guest
Jonathan Edwards Sir Benfro

In fact we have some information on exactly what McEvoy has done wrong: “Speaking to BBC Radio Wales, Mr (Simon)Thomas (AM) said: “We feel Neil McEvoy’s way of working has undermined fellow assembly members, has left us demoralised and talking in every group about his behaviour.” “Undermining” – no details, so see below? “talking in every group about his behaviour.” What! That’s it? So lets picture it. The Plaid AM Group meet. Somebody raises McEvoy’s latest whatever. Others respond. The Group chair – Leanne Wood? – allows the “talking” to an extent that Simon Thomas gets fed up. What to… Read more »

Sion
Guest
Sion

You’re dismissing the possibility that these complaints might be genuine causes of concern for members of the party. Unless you know that they aren’t – and I don’t see how that’s possible – then trivialising these complaints by calling them “supposedly genuine” isn’t really appropriate. If you took issue with the behaviour of a colleague and wanted to voice that concern, how would you react to that being prefixed with “supposedly genuine”? While it’s true that the facts on what McEvoy might or might not have done aren’t publicly available, that doesn’t mean that the concerns raised are for us… Read more »

AJ
Guest
AJ

Yes, it amazes me that hardly anyone in these kinds of threads even considers the possibility that there may, just may, be some pretty serious (and long-term) reasons why the entire Plaid Assembly group has reached the point of supporting his expulsion. It would be nice to understand more about those reasons, but then that’s just me being nosey. Any detail made public would probably lead to months of claim and counter-claim and distract even further from the priorities for Wales. Really, you don’t have to be all that well connected to know a bit about the kind of behaviour… Read more »

Daiboy
Guest
Daiboy

Personally, I hope Neil leaves Plaid, and joins the “Plaid Newydd”. At least it will give us something to vote for. Plaid are going nowhere. Their % share of the vote is lover now than it was 30 years ago. I would never vote for them under Leanne. I’m sure she’s a very nice lady, but she is not a leader and will never convince people to vote for her.

JD
Guest
JD

Most sane people think like you. I have already registered my interest in Plaid Newydd or whatever it will end up being called. Plaid are dead to me after Elin Jones expelled Gareth Bennett. Being told to leave the chamber for stating the TRUTH is all I need to know about what kind of people they are.

Suzi Avonside
Guest
Suzi Avonside

Not sure that Neil McEvoy would want to be a member of Alternatif i Gymru

JD
Guest
JD

Plaid Cymru is finished. How can anyone take Plaid or Leanne Wood seriously?

So it’s OK for Bethan Jenkins to drink and drive, claim expenses when she should not have* and not get disciplined let alone expelled but Neil has to go?

This man has got the folk of Fairwater and Ely and Canton out of their houses to vote for someone who speaks the truth. Time for him to set up his own party as thousands of us would flock to it.

[*I’ve reworded this in order to avoid potential libel – thanks, Ed]

JD
Guest
JD

No you haven’t reworded it, you’ve totally edited it. Don’t lie.

Daiboy
Guest
Daiboy

**hope for I meant, not “vote for”

Glen
Guest
Glen

I’m sure if Neil McEvoy directed his energies into attacking the Tories like he does Labour he wouldn’t be considered a ‘problem by the parties hierarchy’, he would no doubt be regarded as a hero.
Plaid are more concerned with fighting a class war than National Liberation.

Royston Jones
Guest

Let’s not forget that even before he entered the Assembly Neil McEvoy had made powerful enemies with his stance on domestic abuse. By suggesting that men are also victims he had annoyed those pushing the simplistic message that all men are bastards and all women are victims. These people have influence through the third sector and lobbyists through to the very top of Labour and Plaid Cymru.

When the truth eventually emerges, the similarities between the Sargeant and McEvoy cases might startle many people.

Anarchist and Welsh Nash
Guest

Two related events this week. On Monday LW “re-launches” her leadership. On Tuesday, Neil McEvoy is permanently banned from the PC group in Y Senedd. LW has now cynically ensured that there will not be any real challenge to her leadership this year. Plaid Cymru are stuck with her until 2021. This is surely the death knell for a party which is going absolutely nowhere, and which has now lost two key members from its group over the past few months. It’s the sheer hypocrisy which rankles here. How many times did Dafydd Elis Thomas openly defy the party line… Read more »

Keith Parry
Guest
Keith Parry

Its very disappointing Neil McEvoy has been dropped from the Plaid Cymru Senedd Group. He has said he will appeal and it is to be hoped common sense prevails and he is restored. I have worked closely with Neil on council elections and on Cardiff City Council.for eleven years. He is driven hard working and knows the Labour Party inside out. He fights for the underdog and is greatly liked and supported by people in Cardiff West and South Central Wales. I have never known him bully anyone and he is no misogynist This campaign against him has the Labour… Read more »

kim erswell
Guest
kim erswell

Leanne Woods, seems quite of late…

Pen-Cloch
Guest
Pen-Cloch

The headline should actually read “How do you solve a problem like Plaid Cymru?” Only those who have been members or who have actively campaigned and voted can realise how vacuous the Plaid Assembly group in the Senedd come across. Simon Thomas is being used by that group to try and ameliorate the strong feelings engendered by this episode by calling the disciplinary process within PC as appalling. This is actually all about control, PC cannot control Neil McEvoy and because they were formed on 5th August 1925 feel that they can pull rank despite now being an irrelevance to… Read more »

JD
Guest
JD

Brilliantly put!

Royston Jones
Guest

Plaid Cymru receives the Fro Gymraeg vote because people hope Plaid will protect the language and culture by stemming the influx and doing something about the exodus of the young, many to Cardiff. But Plaid will never speak out against English immigration and is wedded to the Cardiff project. Sooner or later the Fro Gymraeg will wake up – or just disappear – and that’ll be the end of Plaid Cymru.

Graham John Hathaway
Guest
Graham John Hathaway

The treasure of any political anthem if it’s driven by the different forces, is the homogenaity of is message and its messengers. If there isn’t then you need a war cabinet. If there is then use signposting and a diverse practice of healing wounds and a cold compress. It’s whether the cause of Wales and its torrid history of mischief and disparity of views and feuding, is again about to strike. There is precedent, there is also a solution to any perceived mishandling by either party. I do suggest a calming off period and compromise. I think it’s called conciliation… Read more »

Graham John Hathaway
Guest
Graham John Hathaway

As a supplementary may I add how well judged and readable is Ifan Morgan Jones’ article. Not easy for anyone but so necessary a contribution.

Gwylon Phillips
Guest
Gwylon Phillips

There are a lot of issues here. What on earth was Plaid doing on Tuesday having launched a new policy paper on Monday? I’m afraid that the Party is being manipulated by persons as yet unnamed but the truth will emerge. Compare Neil’s treatment with that of Dafydd Elis Thomas. I don’t believe Leanne is a willing participant in this debacle. Some personal ambitions are making things difficult for her.

ANDREW ROBINSON REDMAN
Guest
ANDREW ROBINSON REDMAN

Why can Plaid NOT make public the reason for expelling N.McEvoy from the party? If this is NOT a personal witch hunt by certain members of the party then there should be NO reason not to make these things public. (if only to make anyone wishing to stand for Plaid is aware of the requirements needed to hold any post in the party).

Jonathan Edwards Sir Benfro
Guest
Jonathan Edwards Sir Benfro

Sion I am not “dismissing the possibility that these complaints might be genuine causes of concern”. I am simply saying, “Hold on, we weren’t born yesterday!” If you have a genuine complaint you can go the police, or sue in an Employment Tribunal or do what Labour do in Wales and that is complain to an Ombudsman (appointed by them). If this happens the complainant will get every consideration and a fair deal. And so will the alleged bad guy, at least in theory. But we are not dealing with cut and dried official complaints impartially investigated. We are dealing… Read more »

Tudur
Guest
Tudur

Considering that the Welsh Lib-Dems are down to a single Assembly Member, an intelligent Neil McEvoy would scoot over to that party and take any credit for building it up from scratch at national level. ‘But, what would happen to his commitment to Welsh freedom?’, you ask, with a puzzled chops. Neil should resurrect the Liberal tradition of Home Rule for Wales, and in so doing, give Welsh nationalists some choice come election time. Not to mention some much-needed challenge to a now barely credible Plaid Cymru. This idea sounds bizarre at first, but think about it for at least… Read more »

John Sweeney
Guest
John Sweeney

I do not know Neil McAvoy apart from through his radio and television interviews. I do know that a political programme can only be taken forward by a publicly united party which does its arguing in private. In the current system maverick members , however charismatic, contribute nothing of any substance and for the most part burn brightly for a while then fade away

Neil McEvoy
Guest
Neil McEvoy

I have been requesting mediation with the Plaid Group since early November. All requests have been rebuffed. It is poor practise not to talk openly and honestly in private, with a view to attempting to settle differences. I am publishing the March 2017 complaints in full today. I have redacted some names as is fair and proper. The public and Plaid members can judge how Deryn has behaved in being connected to all March 2017 complaints.

vicky moller
Guest
vicky moller

An intelligent debate showing the responsibility and concern in this admirable movement. I think the article sums up the situation, Neil can be difficult to work with, he is a valuable fighter. raising issues that no-one else raises which are urgent and destructive.
I am saddened that Plaid is not able to manage its strong characters with more appreciation. I have seen things that are not pretty going on. A breakaway party is not the answer.