Following on from the Druid's recent post on Ieuan Wyn Jones's pensions announcement, I thought it would be interesting to add a short post scriptum on the symbology behind this announcement and its significance in illuminating Plaid Cymru's election strategy.
Of course Ieuan Wyn Jones gave his speech in Mountain Ash which is smack bang in the middle of the former constituency of 'Merhyr Tydfil and Aberdare' - a seat once held by Keir Hardie, one of the founders of the Independent Labour Party and their first MP. Even to this day, this area is proudly Labour supporting as the recent YouGov Wales polls shows:
The figures above also show that it is one of the areas where Plaid Cymru struggles the most - probably through failing to find traction for a nationalist agenda in a mostly English speaking area. The people here vote Labour because they always have - its part of their Valleys, working class identity. However, there aren't many ex-miners in the more metropolitan inclined Labour party of today, dominated by such people as Peter Mandelson, Harriet Harman, Alastair Darling, the Miliband Brothers and so on - all from wealthy and privileged backgrounds. No doubt people in Mountain Ash and elsewhere in South Wales are struggling to identify with the party they were always brought up to believe they should vote for - and it is this, coupled with the general current unpopularity of the Labour Party, which Plaid Cymru is obviously trying to exploit.
They have realised that the 2010 General Election is an opportunity to extend their vote from beyond their normal heartlands of Anglesey, Gwynedd and West Wales - but only if they can broaden their appeal by stealing some of Labour's traditional values. Hence Ieuan Wyn Jones's speech on "fairness" and "a living pension" given symbolically in Keir Hardie's old constituency.
Its a clever strategy and could well work - it also means Labour has to work harder for the South Wales votes they have increasingly taken for granted. But, as per my previous post, it would probably be much more effective if Plaid Cymru focussed on promoting policies which they at least have some chance of implementing - to do otherwise just makes them look silly and not serious.