Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood says she stands by her decision to sack Dafydd Elis-Thomas from his spokesperson job and to seek to remove him as chair of the Assembly's Environment committee. She took the action after he criticised her anti-UKIP stance during her recent conference speech.
Dafydd Elis-Thomas is expected to try to challenge his removal from the committee chair and has called for the Assembly's committees to be more independent of the political parties.
Plaid's Health spokesperson Elin Jones says the party 'isn't against that discussion' but that it should be held as part of a wider review of the Assembly's rules and not' in the context of one instance.'
Welsh Labour has sought to link the sacking of Dafydd Elis Thomas to another controversy facing Plaid Cymru to claim that the party is 'rattled' ahead of May's European elections. A spokesman said:
Plaid Cymru members might very well ask what is really going on here, and why it is that Dafydd Elis Thomas is continually slapped down by his party leader whilst others escape discipline. Despite repeated calls to do so, Leanne Wood refused to criticise Jonathan Edwards’ unacceptable comments about Wales captain, Sam Warburton. It seems that members of her senior leadership team get special treatment.
Plaid Cymru are obviously incredibly rattled at the prospect of losing their seat in the European elections. But, everything they are doing at the moment – talking up UKIP as a threat, disciplining their most recognisable and popular AM and letting Mr Edwards run amok on twitter – this is all making Jill Evans’ defeat more, not less likely.
In this extract from my interview with Dafydd Elis Thomas following his sacking he explains why he was so opposed to the anti-UKIP criticism by his party's leader Leanne Wood. It was that opposition, and his public expression of it, which led to the action she's now taken against him.
He also says that he only became aware that Leanne Wood was planning to use the term 'un-Welsh' about UKIP's policies in her leader's speech to Plaid Cymru's conference when he read it on the ITV Cymru Wales website.
In the event, she didn't use the term and sources close to her say it was explained to him at the weekend that the term and the speech referred to 'values not nationality.'
Lord Elis-Thomas rejects my suggestion that the underlying reason for his opposition is that he has never been reconciled to Leanne Wood's leadership, saying 'it's not a matter of who the leader is; it's where the leadership is taking us.'
He says that direction should be focussed on improving devolution following the Silk Commission's report rather than making negative attacks on other parties.
Dafydd Elis Thomas says he may challenge his removal as chair of the Assembly's Environment Committee. Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood has said he will no longer be the party's nominee for the rôle.
I understand that the meeting between Leanne Wood and Dafydd Elis-Thomas took place in the Assembly last night. The last time they'd had a similar meeting was when she restored the party whip to him after he'd failed to join Plaid members in a confidence vote against the former Health Minister.
At that earlier meeting I'm told it was made clear to Lord Elis-Thomas what was expected of him if he wanted to keep his committee chair and that that didn't include making publicly critical comments of the kind he made at the weekend,all of which meant last night's meeting had become inevitable.
Sources close to the leadership say a number of conference delegates had criticised his comments, saying they'd been a distraction and had undermined morale. There's been no official response yet from Dafydd Elis-Thomas, but in and outside Plaid, a lot of people are waiting to see what he does next.
Plaid Cymru's leader Leanne Wood has explained why she's taken action against Dafydd Elis-Thomas:
Dafydd Elis-Thomas AM will be replaced as Plaid Cymru’s spokesperson on Transport and as Plaid Cymru’s nominee as Chair of the National Assembly’s Environment and Sustainability Committee.
Plaid Cymru sought over the weekend to highlight the dangers posed to Wales by UKIP, because we fundamentally and sincerely believe that their politics and policies are not in the best interest of the people of our communities.
Dafydd Elis-Thomas decided to publicly oppose this position without raising any concerns in advance. The people of Wales, and Plaid Cymru members, expect and deserve a national party that is united in addressing the challenges our country faces; on jobs, the economy and will continue to put Wales first.
Alun Ffred Jones AM will be Plaid Cymru’s nominee for chair of the committee. He is a former Welsh Government Minister, and is an experienced and much respected colleague who has a keen interest in our nation's natural resources and in securing a sustainable and prosperous future for Wales. I am confident that fellow AMs will agree that he would be an asset to the committee as Chair. Rhun ap Iorwerth AM will be the Plaid Cymru Group Transport spokesperson.
The former leader of Plaid Cymru, Dafydd Elis-Thomas has been stripped of his job as chair of the Environment committee as punishment for criticising comments made by his party's leader at the weekend.
Plaid Cymru has confirmed that Lord Elis-Thomas will be replaced as chair of the Assembly's Environment Committee by Alun Ffred-Jones. He'll also lose his job as Transport Spokesman.
There's been a strong reaction online to the news that former Welsh Office minister Rod Richards has joined UKIP and is said to be seeking selection as one of the party's candidates in next year's European Parliament elections. Plaid Cymru's Dafydd Elis Thomas tweeted his response:
Matthew Evans, who leads the Conservative group on Newport council, said he was sorry to see Mr Richards finally sever links with his party.
But one UKIP tweeter was doubtful about the former minister's chances of winning the support of members of his new party.
Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood will speak in tomorrow's Assembly session marking the death of Margaret Thatcher. A party source says her contribution will be 'sensitive and respectful' but will set out 'a vision for the future of Wales which is very different to the Thatcherite vision.'
Assembly Members will be given the opportunity to speak about the former Prime Minister in the Senedd chamber before the weekly First Minister's Question session. Former Presiding Officer Dafydd Elis-Thomas has said he won't attend.
The former presiding officer of the Assembly says he'll stay away from the Senedd when tributes are paid to Margaret Thatcher.Read the full story ›