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‘People are disgusted by Westminster’ – Plaid Cymru leader on exodus from leading parties

News‘People are disgusted by Westminster’ – Plaid Cymru leader on exodus from leading parties


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People from across the UK will head out on Thursday to cast their vote in the local elections. Thousands of seats are up for grabs in England, Wales and Scotland, while those in Northern Ireland will vote for 90 members of the country’s devolved assembly. Pollsters and experts have touted several seats as “ones to watch”, as the ruling parties prepare to battle it out with their rivals for control.

In Wales, the Labour Party is tipped for a serious contest by Plaid Cymru and the Welsh Green Party who have forged an alliance to “bring a new kind of politics to Cardiff”.

Welsh Labour has both deep political and cultural ties to Wales — especially in the Valleys — where the industrial revolution saw its emergence as an inseparable partner of the people.

But with the decline of industry and empty mines across the country, Welsh Labour too has in recent years fallen into decline — although the country continues to vote for a Labour Government each general election, something that has happened for more than 100 years.

Adam Price, leader of Plaid Cymru, the only major party in Wales to advocate Welsh independence, believes the tide is turning and the local elections are a precursor for future nationwide elections.

Adam Price: Plaid Cymru's leader said the party was attracting former Labour and Conservative voters

Adam Price: Plaid Cymru’s leader said the party was attracting former Labour and Conservative voters (Image: GETTY)

Plaid Cymru: It is the only major party in Wales advocating for independence

Plaid Cymru: It is the only major party in Wales advocating for independence (Image: GETTY)

Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, he said people are growing “tired of Westminster” and realising that there were “alternatives” like Plaid.

Mr Price said: “At a local government level we are challenging Labour in those areas where they are running the local authorities, and we’re getting a lot of support from former Labour voters that are actually very disgruntled with the lack of leadership at a local level.

“We’ve had a very energetic campaign in Cardiff, a city that feels that Labour has lost a sense of its values — a party they feel has become very corporate, building over every piece of green land and tearing down many historic buildings against the wishes of local people.

“Even in the Valleys areas where Labour has been in power for pretty much over 100 years, a lot of people there are reaching out to Plaid because they feel the Labour Party is departing from its core values and isn’t the party of old.”

Reports suggest that people in Wales are not only fed up with Welsh Labour, as Mr Price suggests, but also with the repeated scandals that have hit the Conservative Party and Westminster in recent months.

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Senedd: Wales' national parliament is located in Cardiff Bay

Senedd: Wales’ national parliament is located in Cardiff Bay (Image: GETTY)

In early April, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak were fined after the Metropolitan Police concluded that they had broken the law by attending a gathering at No 10.

Further parties — part of the so-called ‘Partygate’ saga — are said to have taken place in No 10 and other Government buildings.

The Tories have also been marred by the conduct of their own MPs, most recently Neil Parish who was suspended and later resigned after being caught watching pornography in the House of Commons.

Despite this, Labour has only recently taken a clear lead over the Tories — and even this is only by a gap of six percentage points ahead, according to YouGov.

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Labour Party: It has managed to hold on to Wales, gaining the country's vote for over 100 years

Labour Party: It has managed to hold on to Wales, gaining the country’s vote for over 100 years (Image: GETTY)

Welsh Tories: Andrew RT Davies (right) is leader of the Welsh Conservative Group

Welsh Tories: Andrew RT Davies (right) is leader of the Welsh Conservative Group (Image: GETTY)

Mr Price said continued scandals by the Tories and lack of leadership by Labour was a “fantastic opportunity” for Plaid to have conversations with new voters.

He continued: “And that’s we’re actually seeing — not just traditional Labour voters in those Labour areas who are attracted by Plaid’s positive program, but also Tory voters who are looking at what’s happening in Westminster and are completely disgusted by the state of British politics and everything that’s been going on.

“I think they really value the fact that in Wales they have another option, they don’t just have to think about the traditional Westminster parties, they have in Plaid Cymru a party that’s community-based, built and unfolded by volunteers.

“There are no oligarchs in Wales that I’m aware of and they’re certainly not funding Plaid Cymru.

Welsh independence: Polls suggest that appetite for a UK breakaway is growing

Welsh independence: Polls suggest that appetite for a UK breakaway is growing (Image: GETTY)

“Generally, there is a lot of warmth for Plaid out there at the moment, partly because people are looking at traditional politics and the culture of Westminster, and partly because they’re looking at us and seeing something that is refreshingly different.”

He added: “People are tired of Westminster.”

Yet, while Mr Price says Plaid is enjoying a surge in support, the party has not been without its own problems.

It recently suspended Trystan Lewis, a councillor for Conwy County council, after he stood against another Plaid member, Susan Lloyd-Williams, who has represented the area for Plaid since 2008 but recently moved from the area.

Leanne Wood: The former Plaid leader has called on the party permanently exclude Trystan Lewis

Leanne Wood: The former Plaid leader has called on the party permanently exclude Trystan Lewis (Image: GETTY)

Mr Price was also recently quizzed by Plaid’s former leader Leanne Wood after she called for MP Jonathan Edwards to be permanently excluded from the party after he was cautioned for assault at his home in May 2020.

Mr Edwards currently sits as an independent after he was suspended for a year by Plaid but remains a member of the party.



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