As I have said elsewhere, I’m not sure that objectivity is either possible or necessarily desirable in political commentary of this type. The reason for this is largely derived from my interpretation of epistemology and is of little importance here. However, I do believe that disclosure and honesty are crucial if one seeks to have a lasting impression on the ideas of others.
So, firstly, some disclosure...
I am a Welsh republican, I gravitate towards a Marxist interpretation of economic and social history, but I do believe that individual liberty and the freedom to accumulate a capital surplus is both deterministically inevitable and can be desirable when exercised ethically and proportionately. I seek to eliminate and prohibit the misdemeanours and imperfections of markets and capital, not replace exploitation by the few with tyranny by the many. However, I believe that there is an empirical as well as moral justification for state intervention in service provision, infrastructure development, job creation and industry (and that there always has been), but equally believe that this justification is not absolute or necessarily permanent in every instance.
I voted for Leanne Wood in 2012 and I have subsequently campaigned on the ground for her at all major elections since then. I have supported her publicly and will do so again if she is re-elected. I admire her honesty, integrity and bravery. I share her ambition to eliminate poverty, bigotry and injustice from the world, starting with Wales.
I lived in Ynys Môn for 5 years and had the pleasure of meeting and campaigning with Rhun ap Iorwerth on several occasions. He is a genuinely lovely person and an extremely effective campaigner. I share his vision of a party that engages more widely with the people of Wales; a confident, happy and positive party that seeks to bring everyone along on our journey. He has not been a politician very long, but he has made enormous progress in a short period of time and continues to develop and improve as a potential national leader.
I have admired Adam Price since he was first elected to Parliament in 2001. He takes the physiology of politics seriously, and has made the time-sacrifice we all know we should make, but rarely do, to command the economic and fiscal discourse, not be commanded by it. I thought the 2016 Assembly election manifesto was one of the most inspiring political documents I have ever read. If I go to conference, and I do from time to time, his is the first speech that goes on my ‘must-attend’ list.
Some further disclosure…
I supported this leadership election because I believed that it was the right time to re-assess our priorities as a party and the kind of leadership we want to see. No leader or person in a position of authority is exempt from periodic challenge and appraisal, and as it happens, I believed that if Leanne won again she and the party would be stronger and not weaker as a result.
I think it is healthy to recognise that as individuals we normally approach decision-making with what is known in management theory as ‘ingoing prejudices’. This isn’t necessarily a critical term, it just suggests that for any number of reasons we probably lean towards one option over another before the process begins. Our prejudice may change during the process, but consciously or subconsciously we undergo a process of validation, rejection or change before we make a final decision.
My ingoing prejudice before this campaign was that Adam Price would be the best next leader of Plaid Cymru, although I had never been dissatisfied with Leanne’s leadership, and I knew that Rhun had got so much to offer as well. I therefore determined to give myself plenty of time to observe the campaign, read any campaign literature that was produced and attend a hustings in person.
I also determined that once I had made my decision, I would make it public and campaign openly for that candidate. I have no illusions whatsoever of the importance of my opinions, nor do I care much what anyone else thinks about them, but if we do have an opinion, and we at least believe in the integrity of its formulation (if not the infallibility of the substance itself), then I think that we have a moral obligation to share it with those interested or affected by it.
And so after a month or so of consideration, and having attended the hustings in Pontypridd earlier this week, I am happy to confirm that I will be voting for Adam Price as leader of Plaid Cymru. I believe that he has the intellectual capability to strengthen and sharpen our policy positions and discursive lines of attack. I believe that he is an extremely credible first minister and that he will attract new support from voters and opinion-formers who want competent government and an ambitious vision of step-change for the Welsh economy. I believe that he can identify and communicate effectively with all sectors of society. I believe that he has a sense of controlled urgency that characterises all good leaders. I believe that he will dedicate every ounce of his being over the next few years to furthering the cause of Plaid Cymru, Welsh independence, decentralist socialism and social justice in general, or will die in the process (not literally, I hope…).
And so, I will now be campaigning full-throttle in favour of Adam’s candidacy. However, I will, if I may, politely put him on notice now that if he does win, and thereby has the privilege of leading our party and our movement for a number of years, I will be the first to support a periodic leadership review and election when right and proper to do so.If Adam doesn’t win, I will give my full support to the winning candidate and I will go out in all weathers delivering leaflets and canvassing the electorate on her/his behalf as I have done in the past. I will promote and defend her/him and the party on social media as resolutely as I would do for Adam. The cause of a Welsh republic is far greater than one man or one woman, and I will continue fighting for it under Adam’s, Leanne’s or Rhun’s leadership, all three of whom I am very proud to be associated with as fellow members of Plaid Cymru.