Plaid Cymru’s office in the Senedd is quiet. This is perhaps apt for a party that finds itself lost in the political wilderness. Unlike its sister party, the SNP, Plaid are no closer to government after two decades of devolution. To boot, they have also recently found themselves awkwardly overshadowed by a report that found misogyny, harassment and bullying are rife in the party. Its former leader, Adam Price, heralded not long ago as the key to unlocking the dream of Welsh independence, was forced to step down days after its publication.
I am meeting his replacement, Rhun ap Iorwerth, after his coronation as Price’s successor. No other Plaid candidate wanted to stand against the former BBC journalist, to grasp what could be described as the poison chalice of Welsh politics. The party, which has an intensely rich history, is now at its most critical junction. Is ap Iorwerth the right man for the mammoth task of restoring this nationalist party? ‘I’m genuinely positive about our ability to set things straight,’ the new leader says, while admitting that leading Plaid Cymru is ‘daunting’ in its current predicament.
In recent interviews, ap Iorwerth has been guilty of churning out platitudes when pressed on the damning report into Plaid. Wasn’t he shocked by the revelations? ‘Of course… That report was difficult reading and didn’t reflect the party that we wanted to be and didn’t reflect the values that I know we have and hold very, very dear as a party. But it is of its time. It is something that we are seeing across society. This was our time. We should all as different organisations have dealt with these issues before, but we’re doing it now.’
I point out that one question he didn’t want to answer in a recent media round was whether anyone complained to him directly about the allegations that later surfaced in Prosiect Pawb.