A NUMBER of Plaid Cymru activists are putting pressure on Janet Ryder AM to quit her National Assembly seat in favour of Dafydd Wigley.
In last week’s Assembly election, both were Plaid regional list candidates in North Wales. Although former Plaid president Mr Wigley had gained nearly four times as many votes as Mrs Ryder in the internal party selection ballot, she was given the number one spot on the list because of a Plaid rule reserving top placings for women.
With Plaid winning three of the constituency seats in North Wales, it was only entitled to one regional list seat, meaning that Mrs Ryder was elected and Mr Wigley was not.
In today’s issue of the Welsh language current affairs magazine Golwg, an unnamed Plaid constituency candidate from North Wales is quoted as saying, “Janet Ryder has lost the support of the party membership as well as the constituency candidates. Her behaviour towards party workers over the past 18 months means there’s not much confidence in her among the party hierarchy either.
“It became obvious during the campaign that her only interest was in keeping her seat. There are all sorts of stories coming out of Clwyd West. If Janet Ryder stays in place, we are not going to move on.
“I don’t think there’ll be a move to throw her out of the party. But I can foresee that people will ask her to take a step back and consider her position. I think people are going to ask for that in public meetings. I don’t know when that’s going to happen, but it will be sooner rather than later.”
Phil Edwards, who was Plaid’s candidate in Clwyd West, where the party made a strong showing but came third, told Golwg, “Four or five members of the Ruthin branch [Janet Ryder’s local branch] have spoken to me since the election. They say that Janet Ryder made it clear to them that it would be more difficult to elect Dafydd Wigley if they were to vote for me in Clwyd West.
“It’s unlikely this, in itself, would have made a difference to the result at the end of the day. But I would have rather that she hadn’t said what she said. It’s taken the shine off a good campaign.”
Meanwhile Nicholas Michael Morgan, who runs the Plaid-supporting website British Nationalists in Wales Watch, has posted a message saying, “It’s time for Plaid to put politics above personalities. Janet Ryder should do the honourable thing, and stand down from her North Wales seat and abdicate for Wigley.
“The fact that Plaid got such a strong vote in the north was in no small part down to Wigley. In truth, without Dafydd Wigley, Janet Ryder would be an ex-AM today. Plaid can’t afford to leave such a popular politician at home gardening. Janet’s a good, solid AM but Wigley has star quality. If Plaid want to win in 2011 it needs a charismatic leader who’ll be able to milk every single possible Plaid vote. It needs someone who can appeal to floating Tory and Labour voters and can bring gravitas to the job. Plaid needs someone who looks like a leader.
“It has two choices, Wigley and Adam Price. Plaid’s job is to get both of them into the Assembly by 2011. But first of all, Janet Ryder needs to stand down.”
Mr Wigley has said he accepted the “women first” rule when he agreed to stand as a candidate, and that he will not be calling for the rule to be changed.
Mrs Ryder, who was Shadow Education Minister in the last Assembly, did not respond to a message we left for her. A Plaid spokesman said, “Plaid ran a very professional and successful election campaign and now has a strong team in the National Assembly. No complaints have been received by the party on this issue. Janet has been democratically elected and continues to be a key figure in Plaid’s Assembly team.”