S4C: Plaid Find Their Inner Gwynfor.
Finally, after years of being nice and keeping their heads under the parapet, Plaid have decided at their annual conference that they actually have a voice, and some guts behind it as well – at least from a policy point of view. Of course it is yet to be seen how many of the Plaid delegates will actually go through with the proposed boycott of the licence fee in order to protect the current status of S4C, but the mere fact that the proposal has been supported is an indication that Plaid are finding a little of their former strength and conviction.
Most with an interest in the future of S4C will be well aware of the threatened hunger strike pitched by prominent Plaid politician Gwynfor Evans in 1980, and the key role it played in the creation of the essential Welsh language channel. While the consensus from Plaid today is not one that goes quite as far as Gwynfor’s plan, it is one that shows a degree of intent not seen from the core party for some time. The key distinction here is that the party membership are actually committing to breaking the law.
TV licence payment is a legal requirement, not paying it, or any fines that follow an initial reluctance to pay the licence, can result in imprisonment. Make no mistake about it, Wales’ nationalist party is inciting its membership to break the law, and potentially risk going to jail, and good for them. Again, it waits to be seen how many of those who raised their hands in favour of the motion would actually see through such measures, but one hopes that a statistically significant proportion of members would actually go through with their commitment, to make the sort of difference that Gwynfor did by risking, not his freedom, but his health and his very life in order to achieve his goals for the protection of Wales.
For far too long Plaid have been content with gains, small, measureable political gains, a syndrome seen most clearly in the last Assembly election campaign where point scoring became the core of the parties strategy. This move marks a new sense of intent. This is not a move that will appeal to the broadest range of voters in Wales, but a move that will appeal to its core voters, and its historical core intentions, fighting for Wales. We might hope that this is a move that will signal a fresh start to Plaid policies. Remembering where the party comes from, and remembering its core Welsh nationalist goals are essential for the party to grow and reclaim its position as the second party in Wales. Under Ieuan Wyn Jones, the party tasted government, and concentrated on working with what is had, rather than fighting for what it wants. Now as one of the true victories of Plaid’s history, S4C, is under threat, the party now rises to fight for what it might lose. Perhaps this will be the start of the party reclaiming its desire to fight for what it wants once more, though actions still speak louder than words.