Psychology Guru Gives Plaid's Top Politicians a 'Touchy Feely' Experience; PARTY SPOKESMAN SAYS THERE WERE ' POSITIVE OUTCOMES'

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), September 29, 2012 | Go to article overview

Psychology Guru Gives Plaid's Top Politicians a 'Touchy Feely' Experience; PARTY SPOKESMAN SAYS THERE WERE ' POSITIVE OUTCOMES'


Byline: MARTIN SHIPTON Chief Reporter martin.shipton@walesonline.co.uk

PLAID Cymru leader Leanne Wood and the party's other elected politicians have received coaching from a psychology guru who has advised Premier League football clubs and the SNP, we can reveal.

Ms Wood, together with Plaid's 10 other AMs, three MPs, sole MEP and life peer Lord Wigley, attended training sessions last week provided by Claire Howell at the University of Wales' remote residential centre Gregynog Hall in Powys.

A Plaid source said: "There were a lot of team building exercises, though no-one was expected to build a totem pole.

"Dafydd Elis-Thomas [the Assembly's former Presiding Officer who was facing possible disciplinary action before the summer recess after missing a key vote] has been brought back into the fold and that was cemented during the sessions at Gregynog.

"It was all quite 'touchy feely' and the watchword in future is positive."

Plaid lost seats at last year's Assembly election and its role in government.

Its campaign was criticised for being too anti-Labour after spending four years in coalition with the bigger party.

Ms Howell has previously worked for Plaid's sister party the Scottish National Party and figures in David Torrance's recent biography of Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond.

The book tells how, as the SNP prepared for the 2011 Scottish Parliament election, Ms Howell sought to soften Mr Salmond's image and make him come over as less confrontational during TV interviews. One training session involved him having a bag of coins and being told by Ms Howell to put a penny on the table every time he said something negative.

Ms Howell is chief executive of Derbyshire-based REDco - The Really Effective Development Company - and has described herself on its website as an "executive coach to chief executives for personal performance and strategic skills" and says her clients include "high-profile sports people" and "members of the British peerage".

A biography of her from a 2008 conference states that she has worked with Mr Salmond and with former Liverpool striker Stan Collymore.

Earlier this year it was reported that Ms Howell had advised the SNP to stop using the word "independence" in the campaign running up to a referendum in 2014 that could result in Scotland leaving the UK. …

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