Lord Elis-Thomas “under no constitutional obligation’ to stand down

By Sean Earley

Lord Elis-Thomas AM has ignored calls for a by-election to be held, following his decision to leave Plaid and remain as an independent member in the assembly. Lord Elis-Thomas led his party from 1984 to 1991, but announced last Friday that he “would put Wales ahead of the party”.

Lord Elis-Thomas had not seen eye to eye with the party leadership for some time now and has been disappointed with the direction of Plaid since the election. His Lordship felt disappointed with the party’s refusal to develop a better working relationship with Labour, who currently hold power in the Assembly.

Speaking to the BBC he said: “I don’t think it’s the role of any party in Wales to be in opposition for opposition sake.” He went on to say “I think all pro-devolutionists should be working together.”

Speaking to the BBC he said : “I don’t think it’s the role of any party in Wales to be in opposition for opposition sake.

“I think all pro-devolutionists should be working together.”

Lord Elis-Thomas has dismissed calls for a by-election claiming he has “no constitutional obligation” to stand down as an assembly member.

Many in his local party are angered by the Assembly Member’s decision to sit as an independent, especially as Lord Elis-Thomas had asked for their personal support following disciplinary action last year after he criticised the party’s general election campaign. The local party supported him and he went on to achieve a vote of 47 per cent in this year’s assembly elections.

The majority of Plaid members are in favour of a by-election and say it would be the right thing for constituents if Lord Elis-Thomas would step down. Rhun Ap Iorwerth, AM for Anglesey, claimed his Lordship had broken the trust of his party and constituents.

Iowerth said :“If this was happening towards the end of a parliamentary term, it might be different. But this was within five months of the election where Dafydd Elis-Thomas had an opportunity to stand as an independent.”

Speaking to BBC Radio Wales he claimed that “there was an attempt by the National Executive of the party to remove me as candidate before the last Assembly elections.”

“It was clear that there was no role for me within the party in the future, but there is obviously a role for me in developing the constitution of Wales as an independent member.”

As one of Plaid’s most recognisable and experienced members, he often came to blows with the party’s current leader Leanne Wood. When he served as Presiding Officer to the assembly in 2004, he ordered her to leave the Senedd chamber when she referred to the Queen as ‘Mrs Windsor’.

He failed to win the leadership race against her in 2012, and in 2014 he was fired as both chairman of the assembly’s environmental committee and transport spokesman, after he criticised Wood’s attack on UKIP voters in her party conference speech.