I read with interest today’s article in the Western Mail about Plaid’s former chairman claiming that he’d been told not to stand because he was an old man. I had to laugh when reading some of John Dixon’s claims as well as the Labour response. You only have to look at the profile of most of our candidates for the Assembly next year to know that there’s no truth in the fact that Plaid blocks men of a certain age from standing! They make up the majority!
Personally, I wish we had a more varied list of candidates comprising of more females and more people in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s and also from different backgrounds and ethnicity. But, they didn’t put themselves forward or weren’t selected so like the other parties, we’ve ended up with a lot of men of a certain age standing for us. And to be honest, they are all dedicated, hardworking candidates who would make great Assembly Members. Certainly, there’s a job of work to be done to encourage more diversity of candidates in the future but that’s true of every party and I know that Plaid are taking positive steps to encourage and mentor people who might never have thought of standing to do so.
One of Plaid’s greatest strengths at the moment is the fact that so many young people are actively involved but I reject John’s claim that there is a cult of youth. Yes, Plaid are excellent at supporting and encouraging those of us who are new to politics but we’re not automatically given seats – we still have to win selection contests that anyone on the national register of candidates can put their names forward for. And not all of us are successful as many members value more experienced candidates. But does that mean that we sulk and become bitter, and make unhelpful comments on blogs? No. We get on with the job of supporting those who were selected, and help behind the scenes in the hope of one day having the opportunity to be Assembly Members ourselves having learnt from observing those who are experienced.
I sympathise with John. I know he’s written a blog today, saying he wanted to prompt a wider debate about candidates and that he hadn’t expected people to pick up on the personal illustration. But, journalists were bound to notice. .
Personally, I’ve heard only good things about Nerys and I think it’s brilliant that she’s decided to run for a seat rather than going for the list again. It’s a brave decision, and she’s working extremely hard to try and win. I truly hope that she does, as she’s been a fantastic Assembly Member and deserves to return next May.
I also hope John find another role within Plaid in the future as he's made a hugely important contribution over the years, and still has a lot to offer. Us young ones have a lot to learn from the old men and are grateful for their advice and guidance as we embark on our own political journeys.