Well the election has come and gone, Labour have half the seats and probably will hold on to that position for the next 5 years. Plaid have slid back to third position in the lottery that is the National Assembly electoral system, but firmly in third place in terms of the votes.
What next? It has been clear since the election just how much the drive for greater powers for the people of Wales was provided by the presence of Plaid in the Welsh Government. Labour's equivocation on taxation and is belated requests for greater powers over the planning of energy generation prove it. There are those that call for a swift return of Plaid to government - and I understand that. Plaid was the convenient excuse used by those in Labour who believe that the interests of the people of Wales is best served by increasing the powers of our National Assembly, an excuse they could use on their more reluctant members. However I think a quick return to government would be a mistake. We aren't ready as yet. While I do not feel that the election was the disaster that some paint, I feel that the party does need a period to regroup and reflect on where we went wrong. Clearly a change of leader is now inevitable, and it needs to come within 18 months in my view. The new leader will need time to bed themselves down and gain recognition. Any longer and we will see what is perceived as a lame duck leadership become a serious impediment to our advancement.
Where we went wrong? So difficult to say, a few hundred more votes in the right places would have seen us retain more seats, if on a lower vote than the last National Assembly elections..... but that way complacency lies. We have to get our message out there - the message that independence is right for Wales and is the only way that Wales can recover. As part of the British Union Wales is peripheral. It is due to disinterested neglect rather than malice that we have consistently lost out economically and politically, we are just to small to matter and politically insignificant. The only way we are ever going to improve the economy of Wales is if we are given the economic leavers, and that can only come from a much enhanced devolution settlement if not out right independence. For the party to build it will have to learn not to shy away from independence, not make it a distant political goal, but one central to our vision for the future, not in 5 years time maybe, but in 10 or 15 and no more - not at some point in the remote future. We need to build on the Wales Can website and the ideas within it, we need to show each time how independence will benefit us.
It is quite likely that some of our votes will go as a result of this, but in the long run, if we make the case, and make it convincingly, then we will be offering people something genuinely different. We will be offering a chance for us to take control of our own destiny, not because we are power mad separatists but because with the leavers in our hands we can build a better Wales.