Last week, this column led with the news that Plaid Cymru’s working arrangement with Welsh Labour was under pressure following the publication of a damning report into the former’s internal culture.
At that point Adam Price, the nationalist leader, was insisting that he wouldn’t quit, claiming that to do so would be an abdication of responsibility.
This morning the Daily Telegraph reports that abdicating responsibility is the order of the day after all. he has resigned, after “a lengthy meeting of Plaid’s national executive committee to discuss “next steps” following the Prosiect Pawb report.”
Plaid’s MSs this morning nominated Llyr Gruffydd as interim leader at their meeting this morning; his position will be ratified on Saturday at a meeting of the party’s National Council. Apparently the plan is for Price’s successor to be in place by the summer.
His departure will likely ease pressure on Welsh Labour over their working arrangement with the Nationalists. Price had already accepted every recommendation in the report, and the new leadership is unlikely to resile from that.
But the relationship will surely be in the spotlight in the coming leadership contest. Despite the Scottish National Party’s recent travails, Plaid members can only envy the extent to which it has supplanted Labour and dominates political life north of the border.
With Welsh Labour stealing many of the nationalists’ clothes – to the extent of running pro-independence candidates and accusing London ministers of “colonial attitudes” for comparing school outcomes in England and Wales – Plaid has struggled to position itself for a similar breakthrough.
Under Leanne Wood, Price’s predecessor, it tried being stridently left-wing. Yet with one exception – her personal victory in the Rhondda’s Senedd seat – the nationalist vote remained mostly confined to the Welsh-speaking west.
Given the Government’s waning fortunes, there might be space for Plaid to try and win disaffected Conservative voters who want at least a stronger opposition at Cardiff Bay, as the SNP did during their ‘Tartan Tory’ years. But this too seems unlikely. We shall have to see.
Meanwhile, the SNP are in hot water after it was reported that Patrick Grady, an MP who was found to have sexually harassed a teenaged staffer, has not been ruled out from fighting the next election – although the boundary review means that he may be squeezed out by colleagues in any event.
And in Scotland…
This morning’s Times reports that Peter Murrell, Nicola Sturgeon’s husband and until recently long-time Chief Executive of the SNP, kept party officials in the dark about the purchase of a luxury motorhome seized by police from his mother’s drive as part of an ongoing investigation into the party’s finances:
“Douglas Chapman, the former party treasurer, was kept in the dark about the six-figure luxury vehicle expense while he was in post. Colin Beattie, the other official to hold the position, has also said that he only became aware of the vehicle being bought through the SNP’s 2021 accounts.
“It means officials meant to scrutinise how the party spends money were unaware of a significant high-value purchase purportedly to be used as an election battle-bus.”
The official story – that the vehicle was meant to be used as an election battle-bus – was never very plausible, given it was never used as such, is so small, and that such things are normally rented. But that would still not explain why it was hidden from officials.
Police Scotland have apparently called in the National Crime Agency (“Britain’s FBI”) to assist with the investigation into where up to £600,000 in donations, supposedly ring-fenced for a future referendum campaign, have gone.
Meanwhile the new auditors the party has hired to try and get its accounts in order may have been running a tax avoidance scheme, according to the Guardian.
In other news, the SNP have been warned that its policy of free tuition is causing a brain drain; has claimed that rolling back Brexit would be its price for backing Labour in the event of a hung parliament; and been attacked for proposals to abolish jury trials for rape cases.