Three arguments on both sides as Plaid Cymru mull over a possible name change.
Plaid Cymru could be set for a name change as the Wales-based political party considers a rebrand. Angus Robertson - a Scottish National Party MP - has found that Plaid Cymru could benefit from a “more inclusive brand”.
In an article published in New Nation magazine by think tank Novo Cambria, via BBC News, Robertson said: “There should be a more inclusive brand for the party. Choosing the name Plaid Cymru Newydd/New Wales Party - as suggested during the leadership campaign - may be one way forward and merits discussion.”
Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price first put forward this idea in August 2018 during his successful leadership election campaign. He proposed the name “New Wales Party”, though “Plaid Cymru Newydd/New Wales Party” could be a bilingual alternative.
This idea did not originate with Price, though, and was discussed back in 2012, as per this article by The Guardian.
But would Plaid Cymru really benefit from a rebrand? Would the name change improve the party's service to Welsh people? We take a look at three arguments for and against a potential rebrand.
Arguments for the name change
Adam Price, leader of Plaid Cymru, has discussed a possible name change.
Reaching out to non-Welsh speakers
The belief is that a name change can make Plaid Cymru more inclusive for all Welsh people, not just those who speak Welsh. Because Plaid Cymru has a strong relationship with the Welsh language, it has less appeal to those who do not speak Welsh. It is seen within Wales as the party for the Welsh speakers but this could change if it adopted an English or bilingual name instead.
SNP can be used as the model for success
One of Plaid Cymru's primary goals is a vote on Welsh independence, so the SNP should be the model. Back in 2014, after much campaigning, there was a Scottish independence referendum - which ended in defeat for SNP. Although their name was not the sole reason for succeeding in calling a referendum, it certainly helped outsiders know that they were pro-independence. Plaid Cymru is less clear, but the “New Wales Party” could aim to follow in the SNP’s footsteps by getting an independence referendum.
“New Wales” brings optimism for the future
The name “New Wales” carries a positive message: it aims to be the party that will provide new direction for a region that has historically been mistreated. This is, at least, the message that Price wants to get across. While running his leadership campaign, Price said: “We need to create a radical Welsh populism which turns the old Welsh story - a country mistreated, a people let down - into a new Welsh story of optimism and hope.”
Arguments against the name change
Plaid Cymru is associated with Welsh patriotism.
Preserving history, roots, and identity
Plaid Cymru’s formation was born out of the necessity for Welsh representation in British politics. And one of the founding policies of this group was the idea of making Welsh the only official language in Wales. Today, the revival of the Welsh language is a prominent policy set out in Plaid Cymru’s constitution; abandoning the name arguably compromises a core principle of the party.
“New Wales” brings optimism but no guaranteed success
Although the idea of “New Wales” could bring about a sense of optimism among Welsh people, it does not guarantee that Plaid Cymru will enjoy any success. “New Wales” seems more like a suitable slogan, rather than a party name, otherwise it runs the risk of becoming a one-dimensional party. Moreover, it brings the risk of alienating some of the voters. Those who are particularly patriotic might lose faith with the party’s direction if it believes it is pandering towards English speakers and against Welsh speakers.
Name change does not equal change of direction
Whether this is seen as a positive or a negative is subjective, but Plaid Cymru will remain the same party even if it changes its name. Generally speaking, the public votes on a party’s policies, rather than its name. Plaid Cymru currently fails to appeal to some Welsh people for various reasons, such as its focus on Wales as a whole rather than localised issues and its apparent favouritism towards rural areas over urban areas. If the name change means a change of party direction, it alienates its current faithful; if the name change has no effect on the party direction, then their new target audience will not be interested.
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