Academic Offers Two-Plaid Solution; Party Figure Rejects Analyst's Strategy as 'Political Disaster'

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), August 29, 2003 | Go to article overview
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Academic Offers Two-Plaid Solution; Party Figure Rejects Analyst's Strategy as 'Political Disaster'


Byline: Martin Shipton

A LEADING Welsh academic has suggested that the only way forward for Plaid Cymru may be to split into two parties.

Dr Laura McAllister, who is originally from Bridgend and is now a reader in public administration at Liverpool University, argues in an article for today's Western Mail that differences between Plaid's ''cultural nationalist'' and ''socialist'' wings is holding the party back.

She compares the political situation in Wales with that in other countries with a nationalist/regionalist dimension, concluding that having more than one nationalist party enlivens political life.

But Dr McAllister's argument came under fire from senior Plaid Cymru figures, who thought that splitting the party would be disastrous.

Plaid presidential candidate Cynog Dafis said, 'I have a great deal of respect for Laura as a political analyst who takes the national question seriously, and it is important to welcome some creative thinking.

'However I believe the scenario she describes is entirely unrealistic. Splitting Plaid at this time would be a political disaster. I would anyway question her account of Plaid as a party with serious policy disagreements.

'There are cultural differences, yes, with significant differences in emphasis on socialism, for example.

'But there is always a remarkable degree of unity and sense of common purpose with regard to national development and the aspiration ultimately for Wales to attain independence as a driving motivation. Compare the massive divergences in other parties: the Tories are split over Europe while Labour has totally turned its back on socialism despite the fact that much of its membership are committed socialists.

'In a country with a robust national consciousness there would be room for more than one pro-independence party. In the Basque country, Basque nationalist parties together take about 70% of the vote.

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